a.k.a. “search engine optimization copywriting” or “search engine copywriting”
What is SEO Copywriting?
SEO Copywriting, or to give it its full name, search engine optimization copywriting or search engine copywriting, is the technique of writing the viewable text on a web page in such a way that it reads well for the surfer, and also targets specific search terms. Its purpose is to rank highly in the search engines for the targeted search terms.
As well as the viewable text, SEO Copywriting usually optimizes other on-page elements for the targeted search terms. These include the Title, Description and Keywords tags, headings and alt text.
The idea behind SEO Copywriting is that search engines want genuine content pages and not additional pages (often called “doorway pages”) that are created for the sole purpose of achieving high rankings. Therefore, the engines cannot possibly view SEO copywritten pages as undesirable, and the rankings they achieve tend to be as stable as those that are achieved by other search engine optimization techniques.
Practitioners of the search engine copywriting method recommend around 250 viewable words per page, with one, or at most two, targeted search terms strategically placed within the text and other on-page elements.
SEO Copywriting strengths
One thing that can be said about search engine optimization copywriting is that works for suitable websites and for suitable search terms (see below). SEO Copywriting can achieve rankings that tend to do well across the search engines, although no page can do equally well in all engines.
It is sometimes said by practioners of search engine optimization copywriting, that the method tends to maintain its rankings as the engines tweak and change their algorithms, whereas other methods produce less stable rankings. This can’t be true. If 2 pages are in the top 10 search results; one getting there by the SEO copywriting method and the other by different search engine optimization techniques, they are both there because they match the engine’s criteria (algorithm) quite well. When the criteria is changed, the match that each of them had is necessarily changed. The matches could become closer to, or further from, the engine’s criteria. Whether each page goes up or down in the results depends on what changes have been made to the engine’s criteria. It is a matter of chance, and not a matter of whether SEO copywriting was used or not.
SEO Copywriting weaknesses
Competitive search terms
The technique only works for search terms that are not particularly competitive. Competitive search terms are those where many people are trying very hard to gain the top rankings for their sites. Casino, sex, insurance, health and hotels sites are among the most competitive, and there are many other topics where people fight for rankings. For medium to highly competitive search terms, other, more vigorous, methods are needed.
Not all websites are suitable for SEO Copywriting. Many simply don’t have sufficient text on their pages, and adding text would spoil the design or nature of the sites. Also, some sites that do have sufficient text sometimes don’t want to be forced into changing what is written on the pages, just for the sake of the search engines.
Cost, and the limitation of targeted search terms
SEO Copywriting is a time-consuming process, and professional SEO copywriters are not cheap, therefore the cost of each page is significant. Since each page can target only one or two search terms, it would usually require a good number of pages to be made-over in order to target all the required search terms.
Tied to a copywriter
What happens when a website owner finds it necessary to alter the text on a page that has been worked on by a professional SEO copywriter? It can’t be done without either ruining the costly SEO work and, with it, the page’s rankings, or re-hiring a professional copywriter to redo the work once the changes have been made.
Slipping in the rankings
If a page is successfully optimized by SEO Copywriting, and is ranked in the top 10 search results for its targeted search term, then the optimization was worth the cost. But what happens when someone else decides to optimize a page from a different website for the same search term? If their optimization technique is successful, and the page gets into the top 10, the #10 page will slip to #11 – and off the first page of results. Then suppose another website does the same thing…and another…and another. Sooner or later, the successful page will slip from the first page of search results. As soon as people decide to optimize their pages for the chosen search terms, existing top 10 pages are on the way down. Then what?
If the sliding pages were professionally SEO copywritten, there is nothing else that the technique can do for them, or if it can, the whole costly copywriting process must be redone. Adding one or two instances of the target search terms isn’t merely a case of typing them in somewhere, because the final text still needs to read well for the site visitors. Again, the website owner is tied to a copywriter.
SEO Copywriting is good when:
- there are not many search terms to target
- the search terms are on the low to middle end of competitiveness
- money isn’t a problem, or if it is your own website
- you don’t mind the text on your pages being frozen (if money does matter)
Otherwise, ‘search engine friendly’ techniques should always be done as a first measure, and real search engine optimization should be done for the search terms for which ‘search engine friendly’ techniques are unsuccessful.
Competitive search terms are not necessarily those where millions of results are returned. They are those where people are competing hard for the top positions. There’s a big difference.
This article is about SEO copywriting and not about copywriting in general. Copywriting is a specialized field, which has the ability to make a website successful – or not. Those of us without that skill can flounder along or we can enlist the help of one of the best in the business.
SEO copywriting and normal copywriting don’t always mix very well, but it is worth taking the time to integrate them as far as is possible. After all, SEO copywriting will help to bring people from the search engines to the website but, if the website fails to sell itself or its products to those people, there isn’t much point in them coming.