This piece was originally posted on my company’s “Does SEO Work” blog, back on Wednesday April 8th 2009. For some reason it’s attracted much less spam than the rest of the site.
Sorry to open this with an obvious copywriting cliché, but I’m about to make this article personal. Unlike some the writers of some SEO blogs you’ll read today, I’m not an observer and commentator or an SEO Consultant. I’m an SEO Copywriter. That means I write copy that Search Engines like.
Please note how I didn’t say “I write copy for Search Engines”. I don’t. Writing copy specifically for Search Engines can be incredibly counterproductive. You should always, always, always write for potential clients. If you write only for Search Engines, you won’t sell the product. If you’re not selling the product, the client won’t make money. If the client doesn’t make money then you, my friend, will be out of a job.
I’m about to use another copywriting cliché – the anecdote. During a conversation with a client a few weeks ago, they asked me to refrain from making changes to the content as their last SEO had filled their homepage with ‘GeekSpeak’. I re-drafted the page, ran it by the client, uploaded it and within a month they were getting significantly more enquiries. Why? Because their site didn’t cry out for attention from Search Engines – it cried out for attention from people.
If you’re writing or editing a website to appeal to the Search Engines, you’re on a fool’s errand. A Search Engine has never eaten at a restaurant, booked a flight or invested in foreign property. People do those things – so keep them right at the forefront of your mind. Instead of looking at a paragraph and wondering what will fly with Google, look at the paragraph, wonder how you can write the optimisation to sell the product. Keyword density doesn’t mean cramming in keywords anywhere you can, and repetition doesn’t have to be boring – it’s an easy way to re-enforce your message.
Take a look at these two examples of keyword-rich text and then decide which restaurant you’d rather eat at (I apologise in advance for the use of the words “just like mama used to make” in copy for a pretend Italian restaurant. I wouldn’t do it for a real client):
“If you’re looking for an Italian restaurant in Manchester then you need Luigi’s Italian Restaurant. As Manchester’s best Italian restaurant, Luigi’s offers a whole range of Italian food, such as pasta and pizza, in an authentic Italian atmosphere. Thanks for visiting Luigi’s Italian Restaurant, Manchester. It’s real food just like mama used to make.”
“Welcome to Mario’s Italian Restaurant, Manchester – all the colour, passion and atmosphere of an authentic Italian restaurant in the heart of Manchester. From Mediterranean classics such as pizzas and pastas, to modern takes on classic Italian restaurant cuisine, Mario’s offers mouth-watering Italian food, just like Mama used to make. If you visit only one Italian restaurant this month, make sure it’s Mario’s”
I don’t know about you, but I quite fancy a trip to Mario’s.
Do you prefer Mario or Luigi? If you’ve got anything to say about SEO copywriting, share your thoughts in the comments section.