Writing SEO-friendly content that also works as marketing copy is a difficult thing. It’s not a matter of just taking your normal copy and replacing a few phrases with your keywords. Good marketing copy is difficult to create and easy to ruin…as is good search optimisation.
I’ve worked with copywriters who deeply resented having to sully their eloquent copy with search terms. (And when I say “deeply resented”, please understand that we’re talking about rolling clouds of bad mood radiating out from said copywriter’s desk like a mushroom-shaped haze of triple latte-fuelled mega snit-fit.)
I’ve also had to work with so-called SEO firms who were hired to write page copy. You know the saying about a hundred monkeys on a hundred typewriters? Those monkeys probably wrote better copy. The best example of this kind of copy was received when I was working for a British luxury china and crystal firm. I was sent a block of copy to evaluate that was positively bursting with keywords including “china components”. I was quite mystified as to what, actually, a china component was. Was there something about the fine china industry that I was unaware of? A quick search revealed that “china components” was indeed a strong key phrase…for stereo or other electrical components sourced out of China.
Yeah, we fired them. 🙂
Copywriting, for me, is all about knowing what people want. This applies to search as well as conversions. The difference is that search is more informational “I want to see online retailers of designer wear”, whereas marketing copy has more to do with emotion or desire “I want to feel chic and beautiful”. Both approaches come together in successful copy.
As a search optimiser, you’ll likely work for a wide variety of businesses, many (or most) of which you initally won’t understand. I am definitely not an expert on private investigator firms, or the manufacturing of industrial trolleys – but at Add People I’ve had to acquire an understanding of each in order to know how their visitors search, and what message will convert to visitors to customers.
Marketing or sales copy written with style, humour and a personal voice is a fragile thing. When we write, we must wear two hats at the same time (our marketing hat and our search hat) while making sure that the surplus of headgear doesn’t obscure our vision and make us lose sight of our customer. An unwieldly metaphor, that – but it serves to illustrate the point that we’re doing two things. 1) Search copy that makes it easier for the customer to find you, and 2) marketing copy to sell them on your product.
It takes time to learn how to naturally, smoothly write copy while using our targeted keywords – but practice makes perfect and it should be our goal as search optimisers to do both. Step back as you write, and ask: “If I were a customer, would this page make me want to buy?” Does it act as a call to action?
Good page content happens where information (search) meets desire (marketing).