What's the difference between a copywriter and an SEO copywriter?

Is one better than the other? Who should you hire?

Top voted answer
John Eustace

John Eustace Principal / Communications and Media Strategist at


The differences between a Copywriter & an SEO Copywriter
Whilst essential wordsmith skills are shared by both and many practitioners cross-over between the two publication mediums, there are a number of individual disciplines that business owners should be aware of.
 
A copywriter writes the words that communicate an idea or details about either a business, product, service, personality or cause. The copy is most often utilised to inform, advertise or promote the ambitions and/or interests of the copywriter's client.
 
A proficient copywriter (whether SEO aligned or not), will always possess the essential skills of fully comprehending each client’s purpose to align their output to a defined marketing and communications strategy. They will acquire a sound understanding the target readership’s knowledge, issues and industry characteristics. An accomplished copywriter must become a genuine expert in their client’s field of influence so that they can realise and pre-empt opportunities to contribute creatively to conversations relevant to their client’s marketing objectives.
 
Their copy can be published discreetly in the form of a letter or broadcast widely in print advertising or public relations (PR), newsletters & company profiles, video or telemarketing scripts, on brochures, posters & billboards, television commercials (TVC's) and radio advertisements. A copywriter's objective is to inform, educate, engage and/or convince readers and viewers through the art of wordsmithing.
 
Someone who adopts the nomenclature of "SEO copywriter" is a wordsmith who understands that their output serves two masters, the human site visitor and the popular search engine algorithms who view their published words totally differently. They are an individual who specialised in preparing their client's copy for online publishing where it is encoded on to web pages and its "Search Engine Optimisation" (SEO) is most often an additional prerequisite. Online copy options include blogs, social media profiles and posts in addition to every word on a web page.
 
An SEO copywriter creates copy that enhances their allied contributors' SEO, they must work closely with all graphic webpage contributors including designers, artists, videographers and photographers to ensure that all forms of published web content are optimised for the search engine's indexing and ranking algorithms.
 
SEO copywriting techniques include crafting beneficial Metadata in addition to incorporating the most effective keywords to ensure that web crawlers recognise what each page's content is about, and can index its relevance to anticipated search words and phrases. Accomplished SEO copywriters will invariably insist on "long-form" copy (1,000 plus word count), as algorithms always rank them above pages with fewer words.
Keyword research was once the exclusive realm on the SEO expert; nowadays SEO copyrighters have adopted a combination of wordsmithing and SEO abilities to provide a comprehensive service.
 
A proficient SEO copywriter will make sure that all your online publications share six essential copy elements:

  • Relevant & attention-grabbing headlines that respond to browser search criteria;
  • Metadata that identifies the search results relevance and value;
  • An introductory sentence that encapsulates each page's individual core message
  • A concise introductory paragraph that establishes the publisher's credibility and instructs the reader what to do next (Call to action).
  • Are "word-rich," having at least a thousand words incorporating high ranking search terms (keywords) to heighten their SEO relevance ranking.
  • Text hyperlinks to relevant related material within your site or elsewhere on the web. Backlinks remain important as long as they are only from other high ranking and relevant sources (avoid questionable offers of providing large quantities of backlinks to boost your SEO).
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    Finally, once your website is published there is the matter of ongoing SEO; this is often not the role of a copywriter but a technical skill best managed by dedicated SEO providers. However, as additional communications are added to your site, and page content updated, it remains just as important to have your SEO copywriter prepare copy in keeping with your site's established content strategy and navigation structure as ad-hock additions can very often dilute the subject page's SEO.
     
    John Eustace in a communications consultant (and wordsmith) who believes in strategy-first, then aligning content with intent. Having worked for 40 years across multiple marketing disciplines and in all creative media, John understands the value and roles of informed and persuasive communications.
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    John Eustace

    John Eustace , Principal / Communications and Media Strategist at

    1 in every 5 mobile searches is initiates via voice that means that SEO copywriters also need to have an understanding of Schema mark-up formats as it is critical to gaining an optimum search engine ranking in about 12% of all Google searches! Each device has a slightly different strategy for voice search optimisation. Google takes 'Answer Boxes' into consideration when giving voice search results. Whereas if you ask Alexa what apartments are for lease in Manly, you’ll likely get voice search results based on northern beaches postcodes.
    The way website owners currently think about content and keywords needs to change, as almost every competing website uses identical descriptive copy terms. Most voice searches have more than five words and are literally spoken – as real people talk. When you’re optimising content for voice, you need to use words and phrase strings that people say when they’re asking a real question. "What is available for under $500 in Camberwell?" or "show me the best beachside homes for sale on the central coast." There are loads of ways to rise above the crowd if you web developer and copywriter understand and follow Schema mark-up formats when defining their SEO strategy.
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    Aishah Mustapha

    Aishah Mustapha Community Manager at

    Top 10% Advertising

    A copywriter is someone who writes content or copy to advertise or market something, whether a product, service, business or personality. It can be in many forms such as print advertising, billboards, tv, radio ads or website copy. Their job can be to educate, engage or convince readers and viewers through their writing.
     
    An SEO copywriter is a specialised type of copywriter, and their biggest strength is in writing online content. Their writings should not only sell or market something, but also help increase the ranking of the content online. It usually requires a combination of copywriting and SEO skills.
     
    They should know SEO techniques and rules to create search engine friendly content that can drive online traffic while increasing page ranking. This includes using the right keywords and writing good meta data. However, they may or may not know how to mine for keywords because their main job is to write SEO-friendly copy that sells. Keyword research is usually done by SEO experts.
     
    But please remember that great content is great content. You can’t fix or mask a bad copy with keywords you’re targeting. It is still bad content. Therefore, a good SEO copywriter is also a good copywriter.
     
    Who to hire depends on what your project is. You can still hire a copywriter to write online content. Nowadays, many copywriters have upskilled themselves with SEO knowledge because they understand the importance of SEO as more and more businesses go online. Just ask for a portfolio from them to get an understanding of how good they are.

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    Tom Valcanis

    Tom Valcanis Owner at

    A copywriter is someone who writes copy to make things sell. An SEO copywriter is a copywrter prefixed with "SEO."

    All copywriters in this day and age must have a basic working knowledge of SEO. Period. Anyone who writes online must optimise their content for search engines. Journalists, authors, bloggers - anyone who uses words to sell their craft - must know something about Search Engine Optimisation.

    Some copywriters can also do the "off-page" SEO quite well, though I'd argue that's more a technical skill than creative skill. As for on-page SEO, every copywriter should know how to do this. I don't wish to disparage my colleagues, but if a copywriter tells you they don't know anything about SEO...find a different copywriter.

    Many copywriters (like myself) work with SEO analysts to best optimise pages. The SEO optimises the links and metadata, etc. while I write the actual words under the SEO's direction. SEOs usually refine keywords and backlinks every week or month, where someone like me is called upon once in a while to update or rewrite entire pages.

    That said, SEO is only half the battle. If people find your page and aren't convinced to stay, then the copy isn't doing its job. The results are what matters; whether the copy you paid for returns your investment.

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