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Is your SEO copy bad marketing?

Writing copy that concentrates on keywords too much can become very bad marketing. Why? because it tends to focus on the features of the product or service too much, and not the benefits to the user. That’s bad marketing.

The customer may be searching for “lawn mowers”‘ but what he wants is short grass

It’s something you have to be aware of whenever creating copy for your website. You have to achieve a balance between writing for people or writing for search engine robots.

For example, when a copywriter creates his own website, he’ll use the word “copywriter” as often as humanly possible. So, he’ll end up writing about himself, the copywriter, and the copywriting that he can offer. Features of the service. But any copywriter knows that you need to turn the features into benefits for the customer. It’s good marketing.

The copywriter should be explaining how he can increase sales, attract customers, save the client money, provide exceptional service and so on.

The same applies with lawn mowers. The customer may be searching for “lawn mowers”‘ but what he wants is short grass, great value and delivery by Tuesday.

If you’re a graphic designer, clients won’t search for “professional image”, “design impact”, or “creativity”. They search for “graphic designer.” So your copy has to keep mentioning “graphic designer” this, “graphic designer” that. But that’s not a benefit.

What’s the solution? Balance.

How important is Google?

You need to know how important keyword searches are to you. If most visitors come from other sources – perhaps through a direct mail campaign, Internet advertising clicks, or because they are a regular customer and have you bookmarked, then your copy should focus more towards good marketing, with less emphasis on search engine robots.

But if Google searches are everything to your organisation, then play the game by their rules.

Remember the customer

Carefully written copy can at least try to play both games. You can keep using keywords, but always bear in mind that you need to bring the focus back onto benefits for your customer.

try to play both games

It’s not easy, but it’s what good web writing should be about: keeping one eye on the search engines and pleasing them when necessary, but always bringing it back to people, to customers, to benefits. Because that’s good marketing.

Disclaimer: This post is based on an original article I wrote about 18 months ago and circulated around several of those ‘article sites’. So you may have seen something similar elsewhere. But this is my work.

Comments on this entry are closed.

  • What is Google? November 20, 2007, 7:22 pm

    Why do people always refer to all the search engines as “google”? When writing SEO, does one only take into account Google’s habits? What about Yahoo? MSN? Is there any benefit of targeting Yahoo, without targeting Google?

  • Simon November 20, 2007, 7:56 pm

    Thanks for visiting the blog and commenting. I know what you mean about ‘google’ being used to mean all search engines. I think they have about 68% of all search. It’s just a kind of lazy shorthand really.

    To be honest, I’m not a real expert on search engine optimisation. I only come at the subject from a copywriting perspective, and I’ve only ever looked at Google.

    Someone should write a killer post on the differences between SEO on Google, Yahoo and MSN. I know there are a lot of smaller search engines really coming through at the moment as well, such as Lexxe (www.lexxe.com).

    I’m not sure how they are different. But the algorithms must be different. So much about web publishing is about targeting niches, maybe we should all think more about targeting specific search engines, and getting traffic not from Google, but from the other 30% of search. That would be quite a big niche…

    I might research this and see what I can find.

  • lyndon at seo packages December 30, 2009, 1:46 pm

    Writing copy with SEO too much in mind is foolish. Unless the copy is engaging to the reader then the fact they arrived is meaningless. There are many ways you can optimise a site for search engines without obsessing on the written content.
    With regard to targetting Yahoo, they are less discerning about the quality of the links than Google and are infinitely easier to impress. unfortunately the traffic levels are not as exciting and so concentrate on Google is my advice.

    • Simon February 16, 2010, 6:34 pm

      Thanks for the insight Lyndon. I agree that people should write for their audience, not for the search engines.

  • Steve Austin January 7, 2010, 9:54 am

    The fact is that, in order to do a effective online business you want to satisfy both search engines and users because your keyword should tell what the site about is, so you want to concentrate on both search engine and users. If the user want to short a grass he definitely type as “lawn mowers” in the search query, so if you use a keyword as a lawn mower this will inform both the users and SE that your site is about lawn mowers which is used to trim the grass 🙂