Why Copywriters are now Builders, not just Decorators

As internet marketing evolves so do the responsibilities of the copywriter. There was a time when the copywriter was just brought in to splash punchy prose over the website’s pages, before packing up and moving on to the next project. It was the web developers who stayed behind to keep an eye on the site, to make sure it was well sign posted and a pleasant place to visit.

However, research on people’s shopping habits suggests that copywriters are now a vital part of a site’s maintenance team.

Not only are they needed for the initial decorations, but also for regular refurbishments and constant building work to make the website is as big, bold and prominent as possible.

I was directed to the basis of this week’s topic by Mark White at Better Business Blogging. In a recent post he linked to a report on how UK shoppers respond to search results.

The report, commissioned by Tamar search conversion agency, provided some interesting insights into the UK’s attitude to search:

  • Over half will switch to a competitor if they see negative comments about a company in the search results.
  • 7 out of 10 will abandon a search altogether if they see negative results.
  • 43% know the difference between natural and paid search.
  • 9 out of 10 prefer natural to paid.
  • Women prefer natural results because they are seen as more relevant.
  • Men are cynical of the keyword manipulation tactics used in paid search, and don’t trust them.

The study reinforces the need for businesses to approach their online marketing as a long-term commitment.

Getting to the top of the natural rankings should be the primary aim, with paid search just a useful tool for getting quick, early customers

Paid search can be very effective if you know your conversion rate, and only need to sell a few high value products to make a profit. Consequently, it suits some businesses better than others.

It is ideal for those whose visitors are more likely to buy on their first visit, and don’t need convincing of your product’s benefits.

The problem with relying solely on paid search is that it’s a bit like attracting shoppers with a megaphone, but not having a sales team to greet them when they arrive.

Few people are ready to buy the first time they visit your site. To persuade them to part with their money you need to build trust. The best way of doing this is through the ongoing provision of content of value, and developing the sales process over time. A natural search campaign can achieve this.

Getting to the top of the natural search results takes a much greater investment of time and energy than paid. With Google’s algorithms enough of a puzzle to support a whole industry, there’s no quick and easy way to get to the top, and stay there.

Natural search optimisation is like building and running a shop. It takes a lot of effort, and requires regular investment long after you’ve first opened your doors. Ongoing renovations are needed to keep it relevant, and to build up the content needed to attract search spiders, garner backlinks and develop trust with visitors.

That’s why copywriters should start thinking of themselves as a website’s resident builder, rather than just the initial decorator. Copywriters are now needed to hang around to keep the website’s content up-to-date, and to pull in the search engines.

Your words are your bricks, and with them you are responsible for constructing a website’s organic material needed to push it to the top of the natural search results.

A natural search campaign is about building concrete foundations. Once your website’s relevance is robust enough to be on page one then you’re there for good, and open to do business with the steady stream of customers flowing through your doors.

People trust you because they know you have spent time laying the groundwork to be there. You are not a fly-by-night organisation who has just bought your way onto their screens.

Paid search is a lot like setting up a market stall at somebody else’s shop door. You’ve paid the market inspector for the pitch, and then you try and waylay as many of the shop’s customers as possible.

Most will pass by because they don’t trust you, but at least one in ten is likely to stop and have a look at your wares.

Paid search might be the quick and easy way of getting noticed. But with 90% preferring natural results you are missing out on a lot of business by not having a natural search campaign.

At present most businesses are still fighting over the best market stall pitches, rather than investing in long-term bricks and mortar.

A recent survey, taken from E-consultancy, highlighted the following:

  • 6 out of 10 UK businesses plan to increase their search marketing budget in the next year.
  • 44% said the rising click costs were affecting the ROI of paid search.
  • The average proportion of a marketing budget allocated to online was 32%.
  • 61% of an online marketing budget was spent on paid search, with only 33% on natural SEO.
  • Most felt SEO had a more positive impact on branding than paid search.
  • The scope of success in driving their search marketing strategy was limited by the lack of internal resources.

Based on this survey, it would appear we still have a long way to go before business mindsets change from focusing on paid to natural SEO.

Once more businesses wise up to the long-term benefits of natural search then they will need copywriters to build and manage their campaigns for them. Not only to provide wheelbarrow loads of news and information, but also to drown out the noise of disgruntled customers.

The Tamar report highlighted the problem of negative comments in blogs and social sites clogging up search results, and scaring off visitors. Over half of those surveyed would switch to a competitor if criticism cropped up in a company’s results.

Copywriters are needed to drive down negative search results, by building a website’s positive exposure with happy news stories and cheery case studies.

But I’m going to have to save this discussion for another day, because it’s time for my tea break.

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[…] Matt Ambrose at the Copywriter’s Crucible posted in much the same vein (and it’s worth reading even though I won’t cover most of his post here). […]

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