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Successful Copywriting for SEO AND Customers
If prolific American novelist and full-time drunkard Charles Bukowski were alive today and someone told him what SEO Copywriting was, he’d no doubt write a semi-literate collection of poetry on how the world has gone down the pan and how everyone is a sell out. A marketing concept as technical as SEO and a discipline as rooted historically in romance and pure creativity as writing seem diametrically opposed – to many, the idea that good, engaging writing and SEO can co-exist in the same piece of copy seems impossible.
Of course, that is a load of nonsense – with a bit of imagination and tact, any copy can fulfil the dual purpose of SEO and being interesting to a reader. In fact, the very cornerstones of our discipline demand it; with Google de-ranking any content it deems to be poor quality and article submission sites rejecting any piece it judges as more of a sales pitch than a quality piece of writing.
On the flipside, a good copywriter has to rein in any delusions of artistry he or she may have. Flowery prose and extended metaphors are fantastic for that novel you’ve had planned in your head for 10 years, but when writing copy for SEO, your client and their search engine rankings should always be at the forefront of your mind.
Achieving the fine balance between SEO and writing engaging copy is difficult, but it’s ultimately the most important aspect of an SEO Copywriter’s job. Below are a few pointers to creating great copy that will satisfy both SEO and customers.
Keywords should always be the crux of any good piece of copy for SEO, but it’s important not to get too hung up on including them – randomly jettisoning keywords into your copy will usually stand out a mile and turn off cynical readers. Keywords should be your friend; they act as a great starting point for ideas and can help focus your copy, even if you’re dealing with a topic you aren’t particularly comfortable with. Using keywords as inspiration for the theme of your copy and aspects such as the title ensures that you will be using your key phrases in a naturalistic manner, freeing you up to focus on engaging your audience with quality writing.
It’s easy as a copywriter to get wrapped up in what you and your client want from the copy rather than what the audience wants to read. The basics of writing for the internet have to be considered when writing copy; short paragraphs for skim-readers, subheadings so readers can get a quick summary of the copy and a snappy title to draw the reader in. The first paragraph is incredibly important when writing for the internet, as it’s usually the only paragraph a passing-through customer will read.
On a personal level, I love dropped introductions that draw on an entirely different concept to what the piece is about and then link to the piece in a clever way. This, however, isn’t so effective when your average internet reader wants to know the facts of your copy in the first 50 words. As there is no financial entry point to most writing on the internet, anyone turned off by even the first line of a piece has nothing to stop them leaving your page as quickly as they clicked on to it.
Considering your audience will also allow you to cover both SEO and customer bases with a minimum of fuss. Who are you writing your article for? What search terms will they be using to find your article? Selecting the correct tone and language for your copy is crucial to customer engagement AND pushing your client up the rankings.
This means the average copywriter needs to be adaptable – again, I love writing in a witty manner with plenty of obscure references (as illustrated by the intro to this piece!), but can recognise that this would be wholly inappropriate for some of our clients. Don’t confuse this with having to change tact entirely however – showing personality in your writing will engage readers far more than writing like an automaton. Also consider the terms your audience would search for when looking for your content – for example, focusing on the word ‘television’ when your audience is searching for ‘TV’ is counterproductive and won’t help with SEO.
Like any creative process, there are almost infinite ways of producing content and I doubt that any copywriter follows exactly the same process when writing up a piece. However, implementing some of the points above into your writing should mean that, whatever method you take to generating copy for your client, the end result will satisfy SEO AND customers.