The SEO Copywriter: Wordsmithing the Web

We’ve all heard the adage that “content is king” when it comes to SEO (define). Despite this, it’s still easy to lose sight of content creation in an online landscape increasingly focused on securing links. In all the talk of link relationships, has the art of communication itself been lost?

In SEO, as in war, generals and officers must gather intelligence and develop a strategy in preparation for a campaign. For all the high-level thinking that goes into an engagement, you need troops on the ground to make sure the plan is carried out.

The tank gunners, frontline infantry, and snipers of the SEO team are undoubtedly the SEO copywriters. These individuals are responsible for the tactical execution of many a content-based client plan. Combining both technological know-how and a strong command of the written word, the agency SEO copywriter must be prepared to write on any topic at a moment’s notice. The best of the breed are at once researcher, writer, and communicator.

The Researcher

All good writing starts with some sort of research. Thoreau lived in the woods by Walden Pond before writing his transcendentalist masterwork. Hemingway hung around bullfighters to write “The Sun Also Rises.” Thankfully, the research conducted by the SEO copywriter is slightly safer.

While keyword research is still extremely important to the copywriter, as it seeds his or her content, the writer must go beyond the keywords and digest the subject matter fully. Complete understanding of any topic is crucial to writing interesting and engaging material for the reader.

Proper research will also give the SEO copywriter a sense of tone and writing style for the client subject. Understanding the communication nuances of, say, the pharmaceutical industry will aid the appropriate application of keywords in on-site copy. It’s important to integrate these words and phrases correctly so they don’t fall on deaf ears.

The Writer

First and foremost, the SEO copywriter is a writer. Writing insightful, engaging copy will always be the primary objective. The role of the agency SEO copywriter is unique because the writer must be able to tackle multiple topics at any given time. It takes a special type of writer to pen airline travel guides one minute and detail prescribing information for anti-psychotic medication the next. Such copywriters must be able to find a voice in any topic and yet still employ the important search terms.

While language can range from scientific to sales, the need to be found remains the same in every industry. The SEO copywriter must not only know the subject matter, but also the mindset of the reader.

The Communicator

With linking relationships and social media taking center stage in the SEO community, skilled communicators are at an all-time premium. It’s no surprise that copywriters have stepped up as points of contact in the modern Web communication landscape.

Developing links back to a Web site is an integral part of any SEO program, and copywriters have become the ones most qualified for this task. They’re intimately familiar with the Web site content as they’ve often written it and know the right keywords to use for effective anchor text.

The task of getting someone to add a link to a client’s Web site is usually not as simple as sending an e-mail request. It takes some finesse to craft a message that a Webmaster will bite on, and who better to do so than a copywriter? The SEO copywriter must initiate and own that relationship.

With social media exploding, the SEO copywriter must be increasingly agile to adapt to new client communication opportunities. Suddenly, the writer must optimize press releases, craft articles for social news, monitor social network communications, and develop wiki content. There’s a sharp learning curve here, and all of these social outlets must reflect the client’s branding effectively.

The Message

At the end of day, a copywriter must know what the job is all about: the message. It doesn’t matter if a project calls for site copy or the creation of a slew of Squidoo lenses — the client’s message must be communicated appropriately to the audience. The medium is irrelevant and, as technology has proven, subject to change without notice.

A strong SEO copywriter is adaptable and capable of internalizing a lot of new information extremely quickly. They need to be subject matter experts and SEO savvy, client focused, and audience attentive. These unique individuals have fast become the backbone of many SEO engagements. If content is king, then they are the kingmakers.

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