I’m an SEO copywriter and I don’t give a rat’s ass about keywords. There, I said it. But that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t. Or that keywords are all SEO copywriting has to offer.
Over at Science for SEO, Glenn Murray authored an insightful post that argues that copywriters don’t have to worry about keywords anymore. The search engines (unlike most of us) have gotten a lot more perceptive over the past few years and they can now use their intent magic 8 ball to figure out what your page is about all on their own. They don’t need you forcing it down their throat anymore. Glenn even provides some examples of his own work where he paid no attention to optimization and yet the pages still rank for exactly what they’re supposed to. Glenn’s theory is that as long as you theme your site correctly, it doesn’t matter too much how many keywords you put on the page. You just have to write naturally.
I agree with him. One hundred percent. Sort of.
I’ve had to write a lot of SEO’d content for clients over the years. And when I do, I don’t pay a hell of a lot of attention to keywords. I don’t force ‘em, I don’t stuff ‘em, and I don’t count how many times I’ve used the word when the content is finished. I don’t have to. I know the page is good and will rank.
That said, I also know what keywords are supposed to be on the page, even if I’m not going out of my way to insert them. I know because we’ve built out your site so that it’s supporting the content that we’re going to be putting on it. We’ve done the keyword research to discover your important terms. We’ve identified your site themes and landing pages. We’ve built them out and interlinked accordingly. And once all of that is done, the content simply ties together what is already a sound Web site. And when you take care of all that from the very beginning, you don’t need to repeat the phrase [blue widget] 57 times in 500 words of content. You don’t have to beat people over the head with it.
But that doesn’t mean SEO copywriting is dead. That means content spamming is dead. And thank goodness.
If “natural” writing is good enough, why do you need a pair of SEO eyes on your content?
- Because not everyone naturally writes as eloquent as Glenn suggests. Most people won’t use related terms, synonyms and modifiers in their text because they don’t know how to. And these are the things that increase relevance for a subject.
- You need well-placed and engaging call-to-actions to entice your customers into a conversion path and to keep them there. You need your content to educate so they don’t get confused halfway down the line and abandon the process. You need someone who can put what you’re trying to say into language other people will understand.
- You still need to know the site themes that particular pages are being written about so that you can support them. Each page of content you write has a purpose and you need to understand what it is. We’re not just throwing pages there on a whim.
- You need to know which terms to go after and identify that even though you call it a [mobile device], your customers call it a [cell phone]. Or that what you call a [USB drive], they call a [thumb drive]. I don’t care how great your content is, if you’re basing it around terms no one is searching for…no one is going to find it.
- Because SEO content isn’t simply about keywords. It’s a strategy that needs to be developed by people who understand your site, the goals of your site, and your customers.
- A good SEO copywriter makes all that effort look invisible so it doesn’t take away your site or distract customers in the process.
Content may be king but it still gets no respect. I completely agree with Glen that the best way to write content is to naturally focus on terms without making a mental note to use [red umbrellas] seven times before the end of the page. But not everyone can do that on their own and keywords isn’t all SEO copywriting has to offer. Not by a long shot. If you can whip out copy that educates, engages, entertains and entices, then you don’t need to hire an SEO copywriter that does it for you. But if you can’t, there are plenty of fine companies that offer content creation services. See? I didn’t even have to force that. It just fit right in. ;)
[On a somewhat-unrelated side note, if you haven’t read Christina Gleason’s post Google Says Quality Is Dirt Cheap, Don’t Hire Copywriters from earlier this week, do it.]