Feature Article (Pub: Aug 07) The importance of the SEO Copywriter in achieving results by Paul Rudman

Search engine optimisation has changed over the years. As a good SEO, you have to change with the times and constantly update the techniques and requirements involved in achieving and maintaining high search engine listings for your clients. One of the biggest shifts over the last few years has been the movement away from code and toward content-based changes in order to improve your listings.

SEO has never been rocket science; successful rankings has always been based on hard work. Now that the focus of that hard work has moved firmly onto the actual content on your website, it benefits everyone - if you have sharp, focused, and relevant content (including multi language content for global audiences) then you're not only going to get high search engine rankings, but you're also going to have happy site visitors - you're giving them the information that they really want.

Who should actually write the copy?

Should the responsibility for content be with the search engine optimiser themselves, or should a copywriter should learn about SEO to fill this common gap within SEO projects? While the client may know their business inside out, they may not have the time to write the necessary focused content - and even if they did, they in all likelihood wouldn't structure it in away conducive to good rankings. If you are lucky, you can get some SEOs from a marketing background, who can apply their knowledge of conversion marketing to writing the best copy for both users and search engines. On the other hand, a lot of SEO's have come into the industry via the web design / development route, and may be more comfortable with their head in a database rather than a novel, so here's where I believe the niche has been created for this relatively new position of "SEO Copywriter".

So why are SEO copywriters so important?

Basically they're a slightly different breed to your normal copywriter, because not only do they write for web-users which is a skill in itself, but they also consider search engines when they write. The process a good SEO copywriter will go through when they work on a new project should be something along the lines of the following:

  1. Establish the focus and topic to be written about - Yes this sounds simple - but it's all about the research, and making sure that you use the best industry keyword research tools to identify not only the most relevant words and phrases to focus on, but also making sure you identify realistic ones. After all, a page of content about the Internet is not going to rank you top of Google, so you focus on the most relevant 'achievable' words and phrases that will generate results
  2. Limit the scope of your focus - A good SEO copywriter will never try and focus a single page of content on too much. The best results are achieved by focusing a single page of content on a maximum of 2 unique phrases, otherwise the value of the work is diluted, meaning far less chance of success. You can be sure that for every paragraph you have about a topic, one of your competitors has got 5 pages on it, and you know who will rank higher.
  3. Understand about keyword density and interlinking - Good site copywriting involves understanding key issues, such as the first 50 words being the most important to search spiders (so ensure required keyword density within them), and the value of interlinking between pages on the site using keyword-rich anchor text such as linking with "Hotels in New Zealand" to a relevant page instead of "more information" or "click here". This approach is also good usability practice.

Beware of the cost!

One warning I would have for anyone considering employing an SEO copywriter is that you should consider engaging an SEO company first - preferably one that has come from a recommendation or a referral - because as this industry becomes more popular, more companies are setting themselves up as optimisation firms and doing cowboy jobs (SEO is rapidly becoming the new plumbing industry in that respect!). The chef reason for this is cost - the day rates or charges some copywriters are selling their services at is way and above the market rates for conventional SEO work. Ask a couple of companies if copywriting is a service they provide or if they have a dedicated in-house resource for this work. This way you'll get a far better deal, along with the other benefits of a more holistic approach to SEO that a full-service search company has to offer.


Paul Rudman is the director and head of optimisation at CommerceTuned, he's been involved in developing search strategies and search engine optimisation for 7 years.

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