About copywriting for SEO

| November 11, 2009

A heady mix of marketing logic, creativity & copywriting for SEO

I’ve been writing Direct Marketing and direct response-led copy for twenty years, continually seduced by the combination of logic and creativity that good copywriting requires. And there’s a clutch of interesting rules to apply before you even consider putting your creative hat on.

First, get this lot sorted

  • Get your story straight; exactly what do you want to achieve with the copy?
  • Identify and prioritise the organisation, product or service’s key features and USPs
  • Winkle out the customer benefits attached to those features and USPs
  • Gauge the tone of voice that’ll appeal to the target market in question
  • Get your argument into a logical order
  • Write compelling calls to action and make sure contact details are accurate and clear

Then, ducks firmly in a row, write a piece of succinct, clear, compelling, entertaining and convincing copy: a small work of art.

SEO = symmetry and order

The symmetry and order behind the process is beautiful. I can’t think of anything I’d rather do for a living. So you can imagine my delight when I first encountered the extra challenges that writing for SEO involves.

Good web copywriting has always referenced all the rules mentioned above. After all, the web’s nothing if not the ultimate direct marketing environment. But now that SEO’s included in the mix, writing good web copy has become more of a challenge.

I’ve seen some abysmal website copy. OK, it’s optimised to the hilt, SEO on speed. But it reads like a dog and the author has crowbarred as many key words and phrases in as humanly possible. Which really isn’t good enough. There’s no point in helping people find your website if they can’t easily understand what you’re on about once they get there. Your copy and messages should flow.

Currently editing and rewriting forty pages of ski website copy to include SE optimised copy, I’m aware of the myriad factors involved in getting it right. Only perfection’s good enough.

The moral of the story: it’s not a good idea to use just anyone who professes to be able to write. Or who fancies a go. Copywriting is a specific skill involving much more than a good understanding of grammar and the ability to string a sentence together. All great copywriters display a high level of creativity as well as being comfortable swimming around in a pool of logic. Trust me, I’m in marketing…

Update Sept 2014: Keyword stuffing soon came a cropper, with several Google algorithm updates penalising sites jammed solid with key terms. These days keywords are just as important – search engines still use words to explore and classify the information in web pages – but you need to do it with expertise and subtlety, bearing more potential Google updates in mind.

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Category: copywriting and marketing

By Kate Goldstone - ()

Originally from Middlesbrough, I lived in Brighton for many years before moving to North Devon. I’ve had a passion for words all my life and this is my twelfth year as a freelance writer. In my spare time I draw, paint, sculpt, carve wood and rock, garden, read, write poetry and enjoy long distance hiking. I sing and play the recorder. I collect modernist paintings, vintage rugs and mid-century German art pottery. I’m a member of The Poetry Society. And I am an experienced volunteer shepherd, a ‘Lookerer’.

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