Does your SEO copywriting sound like a bad date?

Before I entered the wonderful world of married bliss, I was the woman who always had the best (or would it be worst?) dating horror stories. Still lives with his mother? Check. Texting his ex-wife while sitting at dinner? Check. You name it. It happened to me. People thought I was cursed.

As I was remembering those “bad old days,” I realized that going on a first date is a lot like visiting a site for the first time. In that split-second before you hit the site (or you see your date at the restaurant,) there’s always an anticipatory moment of, “I really hope they have what I’m looking for.”

And then, sadly, there’s the letdown when you realize, “Oh no. They are obviously not what I want.”

For all those “bad date” Websites out there, please stop doing the following. Immediately. Thankyouverymuch.

  • Quit talking about how hot you are. Ever been on a date where your partner’s conversation was all about them? They’ll talk about their cool executive job, their latest trip to London and their high-powered relationships…but they never, ever ask a thing about you. People visit websites to solve a problem – not to hear about how wonderful your company is. Focus your content on your prospect, and explain how you can solve her needs. The more customer-focused your content, the higher your conversion rates will be.
  • Don’t expect an immediate conversion. You want to think that after a first date (or a first site visit) that the other person found you so spectacular that they want to marry you (or in the case of a website, contact you for more information or immediately make a purchase.) But guess what? It rarely happens that way. Your prospects may need to “date” you a few more times first. There are a few more micro-conversion steps to take. Hope for the fast conversion, yes, but make sure that you have other site content that’s more than “buy now.” Articles, blog posts, white papers and tweets are a great way to showcase your expertise – and move your prospect closer to taking the action you want them to take.
  • Don’t repeat yourself, repeatedly. Ever had dinner with someone who said the same thing, three different ways, over and over and over? If you’re shoving your page full of keyphrases to meet some magical (and totally bogus) keyword density percentage, you’re irritating your prospects and causing them to tune out. Quit repeating yourself and concentrate on creating really awesome content. It will be much more powerful than repeating keyphrases. Trust me.
  • Know your target audience. Once upon a time, a man (who I had known for awhile) took me to Dunkin’ Donuts on the first date. Outside of the obvious huge miss (Really, Dunkin’ Donuts? Really?) everyone knows that I’m a Starbucks kinda gal – except for this guy, who obviously didn’t know a thing about me. It’s the same with your web copy. Create a customer persona before you start writing, and follow it to the letter. Writing that “misses the mark” often has so-so conversion rates at best.
  • Don’t be a bore. We’ve all gone on dates where the other person is nice – really nice – but just a little…boring. We feel bad for not wanting to date them again, but we just… can’t. I know that marketers (especially in the B2B space) are often afraid of “punchy” copy. But baby, don’t fear adding a little bit of personality to your writing! If your copy is dull, you run the risk of your prospects finding another site that’s just as qualified to help – but sounds much more interesting to work with. Remember, you don’t get a second chance to make a first impression – and well-written, interesting content trumps “boring, just the facts” every time.

Side note: Great minds think alike. After I wrote this, it was brought to my attention by @lisabarone that she had written a very similar blog post – and the original pic I had for my post was the exact same one as hers (and no, I hadn’t read her post!) I switched out my pic, and highly encourage folks to read Lisa’s expert take on the topic. Enjoy!

12 replies
  1. Jacob Stoops
    Jacob Stoops says:

    Love this article. It’s a very playful way to analyze poor copywriting, which I see all too often as an SEO.

    People writing the copy need to gain a better understanding of their target audience, not talk about how sweet they are all the time, and (most importantly) figure out how to solve the web user’s problem, whatever it may be.

    Good stuff Heather :-)

  2. Scott Salwolke
    Scott Salwolke says:

    Love how you’ve personalized the whole copywriting experience and how you equate it to a dating experience. It’s not just that its clever, but that it really is how your site can come across to a prospect. Its all about building a relationship.

  3. Luci
    Luci says:

    Love the analogy, and the whole post. It’s all so true, especially the target audience area I think, like Dunkin Doughnuts vs. Starbucks there can be a big difference between what you can assume people want, and what they actually like..

    • Heather
      Heather says:

      Exactly – and those differences can be subtle. Assuming that your prospects like (or want) something – and not being SURE – can backfire. :)

      Thanks for your comment!

  4. Fabio
    Fabio says:

    I’ve been on enough bad dates and seen enough bad SEO copywriting to know that this is an accurate article!

    I especially like the ‘Quit Talking About How Hot You Are’ part, as we see so many examples of businesses telling us they are the best, without actually backing this up with action.

    • Heather
      Heather says:

      LOL – it’s funny when we can compare bad dates to bad SEO copywriting…but it’s so easy to do!

      “Quit talking about how hot you are” seems to be the #1 thing I see – so many companies talk about how they’re the biggest, best and most popular. What’s sad is that they can get this point across much better if they focus on their customers rather than focusing on themselves…

      Thanks for your comment! :)

  5. Rahman Mehraby
    Rahman Mehraby says:

    A good copywriting makes you fall in love with it by itself, just like a good date! You don’t have to look at it from head to toe to convince yourself to like it as it attracts you by what it is.

  6. Victoria Blount
    Victoria Blount says:

    What a fun analysis of content and how we approach websites. It nice to read a lighthearted approach to a subject which can be consumed with ensuring you have the right keywords a certain number of times embedded in the copy. I found the most interesting point to be about “focusing your content on the customers needs, instead of about promoting the company constantly.”


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