What is SEO Content/Copywriting anyways?
I talk about SEO content and copywriting fairly consistently. Sometimes the topics come up separately, but most often they are so intertwined that it makes the most sense to talk about them together as one. Today, someone asked me why and it occurred to me that the combination of story and data science is new for many business owners.
The story of copywriting in the early days of the internet
Once upon a time, people created content and posted it to their blogs/websites and that was all that they needed to have an effective content marketing game. They told their readers the benefits and features of their products/offerings, never thinking that the potential customers reading would ever need or want to know more.
The goal was to sell now and let tomorrow happen when it came.
That worked for a long while.
Then, the internet grew up and became a crowded place. No longer the small town where everyone knew your name, suddenly everyone had a blog, a website, and competition for attention grew.
Marketers (and business owners) who simply created content and hoped for the best…got lost in the noise of the newly populated space.
Barely optimized, sales-oriented content and copywriting no longer seemed like enough to grow a business, and interest in using writing for that purpose began to wane.
C-suite executives slashed content budgets and turned towards other online marketing techniques to push quick sales (around this time paid ads and pay-per-click came to be).
Of course, not producing content did not work any better for brand building or increasing conversions and revenue than ineffective content strategy did.
Digital marketing was here to stay, and savvy businesses began to rethink their strategies and reconsider using content/copy marketing as a way to “talk” to their customers. The question was how could communications marketers prove that the work that they did was effective and profitable?
Measuring marketing then vs now
In the old days, marketers didn’t have to measure the effectiveness of their work in large part because it was almost impossible to do it well.
Television ads, coupons, and direct mail advertising were all techniques that didn’t (and still don’t really) make measurement easy. In many cases, advertisers simply created materials, sent them out to a large swath of the population, and hoped for the best.
This reality helped keep the cost of advertising relatively low and local.
Things changed when businesses started moving to the online space and building national and even global brands.
Digital marketing ranged from blogs to websites to pay-per-click advertising.
Marketers…digital and traditional… needed a way to measure the effectiveness of their content and business owners needed a way to track the ROI of their content efforts.
As this all happened, data scientists in the marketing space began to consider SEO and how to use optimization to attract the attention of search engines. What they found was that companies who could get their websites to the top of search results increased conversions and sales, and were able to scale online.
SEO (search engine optimization) has been around for nearly as long as the internet has been alive.
It didn’t gain popularity in terms of appearing in articles and as something that folks think about regularly until the late 1990’s-early 2000s. Of course, as Google launched and became a niche-dominating force, SEO increased in importance.
At the base, SEO is a data tracking method of following results of tools used in content/copy to measure their effectiveness (of course there is much more to it, but for this blog our definition serves well).
Early SEO efforts focused on on-page optimization and are where concepts we still use today began. Search engines mainly ranked sites based on keywords, HTML tagging, post length, and linking.
Google’s web crawler and algorithm were revolutionary for information retrieval. They looked at both on-page and off-page factors for the first time.
In 2006, Google launched Google Analytics, and this changed everything in terms of content marketing, findability, and the ability to begin to measure the success of marketing campaigns.
Over time, the focus of Search Engine Results Pages (SERP) changed from simply matching keywords to understanding semantics and intent.
Today, Google says that its search results are designed to inform and assist, rather than giving users a list of links.
This means that the content that we create must offer value, demonstrate expertise, be trustworthy and authoritative. Google makes these determinations in part using key phrases, time spent on results and perceived relevance.
Copywriting (and content creation)
Copywriting has been around as long as written advertising has been around. In fact, copywriting is what kept Don Draper employed on the TV show Mad Men.
For clarification, copywriting and content are often used interchangeably to describe writing for businesses. That isn’t exactly the way that it should be, as there are major differences between the two, even if they are both aimed at findability in the end.
Copy is typically written for faster results. When you think of copy, you should think of writing aimed at driving action from its reader.
Copy includes social media posts, sales emails, lead generation giveaways and paid ads.
The words in copy are action packed — you’ll find yourself writing “discover,” “act now” and “don’t miss out” when creating copy.
In every piece of copy, you should add a call to action that is aimed at inspiring the person reading your copy to take action (think join email list, buy your offer and such).
Content is also creating written work for businesses, but this type of writing is aimed less at inspiring action and more at creating relationships and long term loyalty.
Content creation includes blogs, articles, white papers and newsletters. The point of creating it is to build brand recognition, niche domination and thought leadership.
It is essential for businesses to develop content so that they can share their story with their customers.
In content, you can offer value to your readers by sharing your expertise. Think of it as education and developing your reputation as a valued resource in your niche.
Expertise leads to niche domination and thought leadership — — something that radically increases your SEO rankings and improves revenue overtime.
As a business owner, you have to use a combination of both content and copy to build a communications strategy that offers real results online.
A comprehensive strategy can help.
At AOU, we create a 24-week calendar that is topic based. That means that each week we focus on a specific topic and “bundle” all of our content and copy for the week on that topic.
This allows us to achieve the best results as it drives interest in one topic, increases readership and improves SEO results.
Bringing it all together
SEO, content and copywriting are all important elements to a successful communications strategy for a business.
They work best when combined together.
Businesses who create content and copy, but do not consider SEO elements are, in many ways, wasting time and money.
This is because without the science of SEO integrated into written work, potential customers are unlikely to see it.
The marriage of a powerful story that elicits an emotional response and builds trust, with data science backed SEO that identifies messaging effectiveness — is an unstoppable way to create real traction with potential customers.
In as little as 6 months, lead generations and conversions can radically improve.
In my opinion, that makes it worth it.