Should you create original SEO content? Or, should you optimize an existing page (in other words, add keyphrases without rewriting the copy?).
Freelance and in-house writers ask this question all the time. I receive emails saying, “My boss (or client) wants me to add keyphrases to this existing page. The problem is, the page isn’t very good. Will the keyphrases help? Or is better to rewrite it?”
That’s an excellent question that I address in the video — or, you can read the modified transcript, below.
SEO copywriting and SEO editing — what’s the difference?
First, let’s go over the differences between SEO copywriting and keyphrase editing.
Keyphrase editing is also known as “on-page optimization,” “optimizing the text,” or “SEO copyediting.” The technique is to add keywords — either derived from the writer’s keyphrase research or received from an SEO — to existing text.
When a page is optimized (or edited,) the content is not rewritten. The writer may edit the page Title and meta description, but for the most part, she’s working with the existing content.
SEO copywriting usually refers to creating original content. The writer still conducts keyphrase research (or receives the keyphrases from an SEO.) However, rather than editing the existing content, she would write brand-new content and include the keyphrases (along with synonyms and related words.)
So you see, SEO copywriting and keyphrase editing are very different: one is working with existing text, and the other is throwing away the existing text and starting fresh.
Should you optimize your site? Or rewrite your pages?
So, when is a better strategy to edit existing pages rather than rewrite them?
It’s best to optimize a page (keyphase editing) when:
- You (and your readers) already love the content
- The page isn’t crucial to the sales process
- The bounce rate isn’t too high
If you have content on your site you (and your readers) already love and it’s performing well, but it wasn’t written with keyphrases the first time around, the page may be a good candidate for keyphrase editing.
It’s also OK to edit the page when it isn’t crucial to the sales process. For example, I’ve worked with companies that have edited old blog posts and saw a great bump in search positions as a result. Editing FAQ pages and articles can offer the same benefit.
Finally, optimizing the page is OK when the time on page (or bounce rate) isn’t too high. You know that people are sticking around and reading the page once they’ve landed on it, so adding in some strategic keyphrases here and there is typically fine for that page.
An SEO content editor or an SEO copywriter usually handles the keyphrase editing. He may be someone you employ in-house, or a freelancer.
There are also certain times when it’s better to write original content, such as:
- When the page is crucial to the sales process
- When the page is a duplicate
- When page conversions or time on page is low
If a page is crucial to the sales process, or is somehow intended to make money — like the home page, and subcategory pages such as products and services — it’s better to rewrite it.
You also want to rewrite the page if it’s a duplicate. This is common with local landing pages, where two (or more) pages may be basically the same (outside of the city name.)
Also, when you know that the page isn’t working — you’re not getting conversions, the time on page is low, and people are bouncing out quickly — rewrite it. Readers are telling you they don’t like the page by leaving as soon as they can.
Sure, you can edit the keyphrases into a poorly performing page and sure, hypothetically that page might position a little better, but it won’t help boost conversions.
Either a freelancer or an experienced in-house SEO copywriter can rewrite your pages. Also, an SEO content strategist could do the keyphrase research for you, as well as dovetail her research with the rest of your SEO plan.
Make sense? There’s clearly a difference between when you would write original content and when you can work with the existing content — and it’s smart to know those differences before you proceed.
(Editors note: I originally wrote this post in 2011. A lot has changed since then, so I updated the video and the transcript. I hope you enjoyed the post!)
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