What Is SEO Copywriting and Why Is It Important?

Wondering “what is SEO copywriting” — and if it’s really important for your site?

SEO copywriting is a specialized form of online writing that:

  1. Contains keyphrases — words your target reader types into a search box to find the information she wants.
  2. Helps online content rank higher in search results (such as Google.)
  3. Drives qualified traffic.

SEO copywriting is quality writing. Period. The keyphrases shouldn’t make the writing hard-to-read, sound repetitive, or lose its conversion focus.

Want to learn more about the definition of SEO copywriting? View the video below — or read the modified transcript.

How is SEO copywriting different from traditional copywriting?

The main difference is: SEO copywriting contains keyphrases. For instance [blue cashmere sweaters] is a keyphrase.

Typing keyphrases into Google is what we do every day, right? We type words into Google’s search box to get answers to our questions.

But the thing is, SEO copywriting is much more than just inserting keyphrases into content: Google also wants to see authoritative content that fully answers your readers’ questions and stands out from competing content.

Some people believe you can shove a bunch of keyphrases into the content and still get a high ranking (commonly known as “keyphrase stuffing.”)

Not anymore.

SEO copywriting serves two masters

Google has gotten smarter, and things have changed. Now your content needs to be high-quality content for Google to position it in the top spots.

So in actuality, your content satisfies two masters.

On the one hand, your readers need to love it. Your content needs to be relevant and a resource your readers enjoy — something that educates, entertains or enlightens them.

On the other hand, Google needs to see the content written in a certain way to understand what the page is about. Understanding how to make this happen helps your content “compete” with other pages for rankings.

This is where SEO copywriting best practices come into play.

What helps content rank in search results?

There are many factors that influence search engine rank (how a page positions in Google’s search results.)

If you look at the periodic table (which you can find on Search Engine Land), you’ll see that most of the elements on the left-hand side focus on the quality of the content.

The research, the words and the freshness of content are all important to your SEO success.

So if you’re concerned that…

  • Your pages aren’t showing in Google
  • Your pages aren’t converting
  • Your content is outdated and you never really liked it, anyway
  • Your content was never optimized, and now you think it is time to do so

The good news is that SEO copywriting could represent a huge opportunity for you!

After all, as Seth Godin said, “The best SEO is great content.”

If you can create content that grabs your readers attention, answers their questions and drives incoming links, you can finally start seeing some tasty search engine positions.

And that is a very cool thing.

Have questions about SEO copywriting? Leave a comment! You can also sign up for the weekly SEO Copywriting Buzz newsletter, where I provide actionable tips I don’t include in my blog.


Photo thanks: © Cacaroot | Dreamstime.com

12 replies
  1. James Mawson
    James Mawson says:

    No, SEO copywriting serves three masters. Your readers, the search engines, and the authority websites you want high quality editorial links from. If you aren’t building linkable assets then you are not doing SEO copywriting.

  2. Heather Lloyd-Martin
    Heather Lloyd-Martin says:

    Hi, James!

    Interesting point. I would consider “authority sites” very similar to “target reader” — but I can see how you’d split those out.

    Thanks for your note!

  3. Nick Stamoulis
    Nick Stamoulis says:

    It’s true that content can be optimized in order to be effective for SEO. However, it’s important to be extremely careful because content still needs to read naturally! It’s also important to avoid tactics such as keyword stuffing. Not only does this create a poor user experience, but Google will know if you’re trying manipulate search engine rankings using tactic such as that. – https://support.google.com/webmasters/answer/66358?hl=en Instead, it’s better to write content without keywords and purely for the reader. Chances are very good that keywords will naturally be worked into the content anyhow. This approach makes for a much better user experience and is better for long-term SEO strategy.

    • Greg
      Greg says:

      Allowing copywriters to create content purely for the reader rarely leads to a broad organic search presence for your domain. Most writers are taught in school to use synonyms rather than mentioning keywords 3+ times in the same piece, which is counterproductive to SEO. A good way around this is to allow an SEO specialist to edit all content for optimization after the copywriters are finished.

      • Heather Lloyd-Martin
        Heather Lloyd-Martin says:

        Greg, yes, an SEO specialist can certainly edit the content.

        Or, the copywriter can learn how to research keyphrases. That way, the copy doesn’t need to go through an additional publication “step” prior to publishing.

        P.S. Synonyms are no longer counterproductive to SEO, as Google encourages using them. Having said that, keyphrase research is still important.

        Thanks for your note!

  4. Heather Lloyd-Martin
    Heather Lloyd-Martin says:

    Hey, Nick!

    It’s great to see you here! 🙂

    I totally agree that SEO content needs to be quality content. That’s why I stressed that point so much in my post — I still hear, “Oh, isn’t SEO copy just keyphrase stuffing?”

    Sigh. 🙂

    I have a different opinion about “writing naturally” without having a keyphrase focus. Although it’s true that the content can always position for *something,* I’ve cleaned up quite a few “written naturally” sites that weren’t positioning for conversion-driving keyphrases. The key is striking that balance.:)


  5. Rachel Bennett
    Rachel Bennett says:

    Great post Heather!

    Time and again friends of mine think they can just “wing it” and become a six figure SEO copywriter. I don’t think they truly understand how it works. In fact, I know they don’t. I have urged them to read and practice the art before proclaiming themselves and expert but these days we are all experts after one or two days, right?

    It is refreshing to read an article from someone who has mastered the art of SEO copywriting.

    Thank you!

    • Heather Lloyd-Martin
      Heather Lloyd-Martin says:

      Hi, Rachel!

      Ah, the “I can just wing it” SEO writers. I feel your pain — they drive me nuts, too. 🙂

      Thanks so much for your thoughts!


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