SEO editing vs. copywriting for SEO: know the difference

Greetings and welcome to your next burning SEO question of the week answered!  In today’s video post, Heather explains the essential differences between SEO editing and SEO copywriting, and when it is best to do one versus the other.  A few moments with this fiery, fast-talking Redhead will serve to both edify and clarify, and of course, there are notes for you to reference.  So without further ado… heeeeeeeere’s Heather!

SEO Editing versus Copywriting for SEO: What’s the Difference?

SEO/keyphrase editing and SEO copywriting are very, very different animals, as are the circumstances most suitable for each.  First, the critical distinctions between the two:

  • SEO (Keyphrase) Editing: SEO editing is most appropriate for existing content that isn’t crucial to the sales/conversions goals of the copy.  It means you’re taking the most relevant, applicable keywords and phrases for a page and working them in where they naturally fit:  you’re not rewriting or substantively revising the existing copy.
  • Copywriting for SEO: SEO copywriting means you’re starting from scratch, and creating the content geared for the customer persona, including calls to action, tone and feel of the site, and other copywriting fundamentals, while massaging in the keywords and keyphrases as you write.

Best SEO Editing Opportunities:

If you’re looking at a lot of content, and/or larger, well-developed websites, then keyphrase editing is probably your best strategy for leveraging the existing content for quality traffic via the search engines.  Examples of great SEO editing opportunities include:

  • Longer pages that are not crucial to sales/conversions:  FAQ’s and other “info” pages lend themselves well to keyphrase editing
  • Existing articles, blog posts, and press releases are content ripe for “tweaking” for targeted traffic and search engine appeal

Best SEO Copywriting Opportunities:

A complete rewrite of the content, or copywriting for SEO, is definitely the way to go when:

  • The pages are crucial to the sales process, such as the home and subcategory pages
  • Analytics show that the copy isn’t working for users: certain pages may show a high exit rate, or that little time is spent on those pages
  • There is no content on the pages.  This is a often the problem with product pages that feature pretty pictures and product specs, but little meaningful content for either users or search engines. This is a prime opportunity to write about the product benefits, using targeted keywords and keyphrases, so that the copy is more relevant to both the user and the search engines.

Thanks for tuning in!  Be sure to join us next week, when Heather will share tips for keyphrase editing.  See you then!

15 replies
  1. Moosa Hemani
    Moosa Hemani says:

    been though your blog from time to time but this video thing is really appreciate-able… i would rather advise some one to go for SEO copy writing in most of the cases becasue in real time there are very few clients who are there on the internet with very creative content. so instead of adding keywords to the existing content i personality believe SEO copy writing is more better for long term.

  2. Laura Crest
    Laura Crest says:

    Yes, Moosa, by and large many clients fitting your description could use a complete SEO rewrite!

    But there are instances where it simply isn’t necessary for the SEO copywriter or the client to do so. For instance, your client may have very solid content that is smartly targeted to their customer persona, and is otherwise sound in tone and feel, but not critical to conversions, per se. These are the circumstances in which keyphrase editing would serve your client best.

    However, if you have clients with very little to no quality content, then by all means, go with copywriting for SEO from the start! That was the point of distinguishing when SEO copywriting is preferable to SEO editing.

    Thanks for your comments and feedback!

  3. Laura Crest
    Laura Crest says:

    Ken, hi! Thanks for your comment – so glad you found it timely as well as helpful! Next Monday, Heather will be sharing SEO editing tips, so be sure to tune in again then!:)There’s also a great post on the subject from October 2010 — you’ll find the link to it ( Supercharge your webcopy with super simple keyphrase editing) above the comments. Thanks again :)

  4. Gabriel
    Gabriel says:

    In a 400 word page what percentage or how many times should a keyword or phrase be used and would you recommend that images be labeled or named for that specific keyword or phrase that is being used for the same page?

    • Heather
      Heather says:

      Gabriel, there’s no hard and fast rule around how many times to use a keyphrase. The best approach is to use them in strategic places (like headlines/subheadlines) and write your content so it’s great for your users. If your copy starts sounding keyphrase-stuffed, it probably is. :)

      Regarding images, yes, you’d want to use an applicable keyphrase whenever possible….just don’t stuff the alt tag with tons of keywords. Think of it as describing the image instead. :)


  5. Laura Crest
    Laura Crest says:

    Hi Gabriel!

    Let’s start with question #1: There is no formula for keyword density – that is a persistent relic from the way-back machine that is no longer applicable for authentic, legitimate SEO. A common-sense rule of thumb is to use two to three keywords/keyphrases per page, where they fit and flow with the writing, and where they pack the most SEO-mojo: headers, subheaders, links.

    As for question #2: Alternative text for images is recommended for SEO purposes inasmuch that search engines do not “read” images. However, I would warn you to avoid “overkill” of keyword/phrase use here, unless it actually applies to the particular image. The search engines might interpret it as keyword stuffing or spamming.

    Hope this helps! Thanks for your contribution to the conversation! :)

  6. Laura Crest
    Laura Crest says:

    Hi Pam! Always a treat to hear from you — thanks!

    As for the pricing difference, “it depends.” :) Seriously, though, inasmuch as straightup SEO copywriting is creating content while massaging in the keyword/phrases, versus just working in keywords and phrases into existing (and otherwise solid) content as you would with SEO editing, you can expect to charge more, much more, for SEO copywriting.

    Heather posted a how-to vid on how to make money as an SEO copywriter a couple of weeks back: (htttp:// in which she discussed pricing for SEO copywriting. It can range from $50 to $1,500 / page, depending on your experience and portfolio of client testimonials, case studies, et.

    Next Monday, Heather will post tips on SEO editing — perhaps she might address pricing for that then. All I can tell you right now is that original SEO copywriting will fetch more than SEO editing. By how much..well, it depends :-)

    Thanks again, Pam, for your feedback — it’s always great to hear from you!


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