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Lies, damn lies and SEO copywriting

Is anyone still shelling out cash for “SEO copywriting”?

If they are, they are proving the line “there’s one born every minute”.

That’s not to say that well written copy, full of rich, relevant detail, isn’t important once the visitor arrives.

It’s just that the best copy has always been written that way.

Calling it “SEO copy” is a gigantic con trick to part the unwary from their money, often played by less-than-talented writers who have mastered the art of snake-oil selling rather than the craft of copywriting.

Keyword stuffing is dead. Keyword density is in disgrace. I would like to see the term “SEO copywriting” join them.

Why? Because it implies that there is a particular way of writing copy that will guarantee enhanced PageRanks, when nothing could be further from the truth.

I return, once again, to a thought experiment I proposed a while back.

Imagine there are 100 companies all wanting web pages optimised for the same keyword: Snake Oil.

At an SEO conference, a group of 100 “SEO copywriters” are told they will be partnered with one of the companies. Each boasts that their copy is so good it will get the client onto the front page of Google.

After the copy had been delivered, uploaded and spidered, guess what?

Ten companies are on the first page and everybody else isn’t.

In fact, ten companies are on page ten.

So you can see that, from the outset, all 100 would have known there was a 90% chance their efforts would fail, just from the maths.

Would you hire somebody who knew there was a 90% chance they were lying about the results they could deliver?

Google is paying attention – as it always has done – to the people who really matter. Your customers. Your site will be ranked in the cloud.

So is there any point in thinking about SEO? Yes.

Your site needs to be cleanly coded. It needs a clear sitemap submitting to Google. It needs to meet W3C guidelines.

And it needs great copy that speaks directly to the reader about the things they care about.

What it doesn’t need is “SEO copywriting”.

My advice? Hire a copywriter with experience in successful direct response campaigns. Selling, in other words.

And show the door to anyone claiming to be able to write copy that attracts search engines.

 

Categories: Web copywriting.

6 Responses to Lies, damn lies and SEO copywriting

  • Jason Darrell
    May 17, 2013

    Let me ask you a question – why is your content nicely spaced, no great blocks of text and simple, short sentences?

    Because that gives it a good Fleisch score. Why is Fleisch important? Because Google would rather show content that the average reader will stick around to read in its SERPs.

    Why has your picture got Alt Text? So Google can relate the image to the copy to understand what your article is about and render it in SERPs.

    Why is writing your content to enhance reader engagement and keep them on your site rather than bounce off it important, like you have? Because bounce rate is important to page rank.

    You say that SEO copywriting is a fallacy, when your article is full of the best SEO practises that, unless you’d purposefully studied content SEO, you couldn’t guess at.

    There is one person with a Pinocchio nose, Andy – I don’t think you need me to spell it out who I think that is, do you, wooden boy?

  • Andy Maslen
    May 18, 2013

    Jason, thank you for your comment. And despite your snide tone and insulting language, I will answer your questions.

    I have never studied SEO copywriting. As I said, I don’t think it exists.

    I studied copywriting in the 1980s, well before the web. Though I did start writing copy for the web in 1995.

    My copy is naturally optimised because I have always tried to appeal to my reader, something Google tells us specifically to do. There is no need to “guess” at the best SEO practices because they merely describe good copywriting.

    You should know that the person you attempt to reference is Rudolph Flesch, not Fleisch, and short paragraphs/spacing have nothing to to do with getting a high score. Also, the noun is spelt practices not practises.

  • Loz James
    July 16, 2013

    Touché Andy, touché :-)

  • […] Now that the Google algorithm has wised up to those shenanigans, the focus is on quality and relevancy. Forget the notion of SEO Copywriting, that doesn’t exist. […]

  • […] The term ‘SEO copywriting’ has been bugging me for a while, and I was pleased and amused to read a post written by fellow copywriter Andy Maslen, entitled “Lies, damn lies and SEO copywriting” in which he states that the best copy has always been “full of rich, relevant detail”. […]

  • Craig
    December 10, 2014

    Do we really need to be W3 standards compliant? I’m not sure I’ve ever found a website that was. I certainly didn’t click off one because it wasn’t. This page included.

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