Why Copywriting is the most important SEO skill, and how I proved it

April 24, 2007

There was a time when the role of the copywriter was to just write the website’s main service pages, with the requisite keywords craftily sewn into the copy. It was the developer’s responsibility to apply their HTML wizardry to trick the search engines into pushing the website onto people’s screens. However, as Google’s algorithms have evolved so have the responsibilities of the copywriter.

Google increasingly ranks sites based on who is providing the most relevant information and with the most high quality back-links. For achieving both of these aims good quality copywriting is key.

Your website’s copy has never been a more significant, central pillar to your search marketing strategy. Copywriting is what will attract search engines, as well as consumers. Copywriting is the glue that holds your SEO playbook together.

Search marketing guru Lee Odden recently hosted a poll to assess what SEO skill was the most important. Lee’s readership is certain to include some of the most experienced and savvy search marketers around. His poll’s results should provide an accurate insight into the search industry’s thinking.

Here are the results at the time of writing, but please check Lee’s original post for the latest figures. I don’t think anybody will be surprised by the result, and judging by the comments section nobody was:

  •  Copywriting (30%)
  •  Keyword analysis (13%)
  •  Marketing strategy (10%)
  •  Web analytics (10%)
  •  Online research and search (8%)
  •  Traditional link building (8%)
  •  Social media for SEO (5%)
  •  Online PR for SEO (5%)
  •  Account management (3%)
  •  Creative and design (3%)
  •  Coding (2%)
  •  Sales process consulting (1%)
  •  Media and link buying (1%)
  •  Server side issues (0%)
  •  Blog marketing (0%)
  •  Blackhat skillz (0%)

Steven Bradley, another SEO specialist, offered his insight into the poll. He assessed that although no discipline on its own is the answer, copywriting is the central skill needed to drive most SEO tactics.

As the industry moves increasingly towards link building and visitor retention, the importance of good copywriting is only set to continue.

Internet marketers have long advocated how copywriting is the most important element of your website. Only your words will truly engage with visitors and persuade them why they need your product or service.

Internet marketing is now venturing into the realms of engagement, online PR and blogs; copywriting has never been a more crucial skill for getting attention and effectively marketing yourself online.

Lee’s SEO skill poll’s result couldn’t be more appropriately timed judging by my own recent experience of search marketing.

In the last week there has been a slow trickle of visitors reaching my website for my key search term ‘copywriter’. It would appear that Google has seen it fit to push my website onto page 2 of UK search results.

Reaching the higher echelons of UK copywriter websites is now within my grasp. If I can raise my game and post to the Crucible more often, I might be able to turn this trickle into a flood of targeted traffic, bursting into a torrent of phone calls when I have clawed my way onto page 1.

Google’s decision to promote my business revolves around the copywriting (or technically speaking the ‘content’) that has gone into the Copywriter’s Crucible.

If I hadn’t started blogging then my website would probably have remained treading water in the outer reaches of search results, a place that receives so few visitors and such little attention that it becomes a virtual graveyard of failed businesses.

Simply by posting once a week on subjects relevant to my business, and that I hoped would interest other people, I have been able to overtake my competitors’ near-static websites, sat complacently watching the world go by.

Copywriting and blogging has been the fuel that has kept my website vibrant and healthy. Writing regularly is what has given my website the wind to power my search marketing strategy, and hopefully eventually sail my way onto Google UK’s front page.

The search term ‘copywriter’ is the lighthouse by which people will find me. Now my website has nearly reached the shoreline of page 1’s search results I will soon be able to dock and wait for business to arrive, rather than be stranded out at sea without even a paddle.

10 Comments. Leave new

Steven Bradley
April 25, 2007 2:13 am

Nice post Matt and thanks for the link. You already know I agree about the importance of copywriters. Having good copy is what will bring visitors back to your site and keep them there longer. And the more people who know your site the more links you’re likely to generate into your site.

I also think search engines are indicating they want to place more weight on things like how long visitors spend on your site and how often they come back. They have a long way to go to accurately measure those things, but it’s the direction I see them moving.

I think it’s great since ultimately is puts the focus back on the page and the quality of your content. And it’s good to see copywriters getting the credit they’ve always deserved.

Hi Steven,

It just seems like common sense that the websites with the most useful and highly valued content should be the ones Google promotes.

When an algorithm is worked out for calculating time spent then I agree that it shoould be reflected in the listings.

Being able to calculate the level of engagement, even if it’s just reading the content, will also enable businesses to justify investing more in their website’s copy.

Good news for copywriters all round!

Matt.

Tom Chandler
April 26, 2007 7:35 pm

Clearly, evaluating content by keyword density was simply the first step for search engines.

Good content means more links, better loyalty, more time spent, and a better chance for “engagement” so naturally you’d assume the search engines will head that way.

It’s interesting to see how the Internet explosion has moved the pendelum.

In the years before Google, I thought that most print marketing (ads, brochures, etc) was growing too focused on design instead of content (the success of some of my all-text ads and direct projects suggested I was right), but corporate types justified the pretty-but-often-unreadable approach as being “good for the brand.”

Clearly, the pendelum has swung far to the other side, to the point that design now may be receiving less due than it deserves.

Anyway, great post as always!

Matt Ambrose
April 30, 2007 3:27 pm

Well, as much as I’ve got sympathy for the poor impoverished designer – let’s hope the pendulum doesn’t swing back anytime soon.

Not until Google has worked out an algorithm for ranking sites on the value of their design work anyway.

Thanks for the added insight Tom.

Steven Bradley
April 30, 2007 4:54 pm

One thing about design is that it too can lead to more links. it certainly helps if you’re looking to attract links from designers and developers, but people will sometimes respond to the package in spite fo the content.

Mostly though I think design is best when it meets a certain minimum and then stays out of the way. It depends on the topic of the site of course, but most sites don’t need to overdue design aesthetics.

Carolina Event Planning
May 7, 2007 1:46 pm

I’m new at all this, but not new at copywriting. Nice to see that the skill is still important!

Ed
http://CarolinaEventPlanning.com

Matt Ambrose
May 8, 2007 3:14 pm

Please note that since this post was written I’ve now managed to clamber onto page 1 of Google. I’ve also discovered that I hadn’t updated my sitemap for a while – hopefully I might be able to climb a few more places the next time Googlebot pays me a visit.

You are right, copywriting is the most important SEO skill. Since content is king. Without content mean without backlinks and low ranking in SEs especially in Google. Only with unique content, your website or blog will be seen by search engines as SE friendly and gain free backlinks. And get traffic and make money from your blog or website. To write unique content, copywriting skill is needed.

Absolutely! In an increasingly aggressive fight for space on page one of Google, content-hungry search engines are not only looking for waords and phrases but also variations on a theme. It doesn’t matter what the page looks like until the broswer reaches it. Until then, it’s words, words and more words.

Matt Ambrose
June 26, 2007 5:16 pm

Alan/Tom – I certainly think it’s content which has helped my SEO campaign. I’m still at a bit of a loss to explain why other sites are on page 1 for the term ‘copywriter’? Mine still seems to be bouncing around whereas theirs remain fairly stable with fewer backlinks? I suppose the fact that search is a bit of a mystery is good thing – it keeps you on your toes and stops you getting complacent.

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