What Print Copywriters Need to Know About SEO Copywriting

Are you a print copywriter who has avoided SEO copywriting?

You’re not alone.

I find that there is still a lot of resistance to “writing for Google,” especially from print copywriters. Sometimes, it’s because an old (print) dog doesn’t want to learn new online tricks. That’s understandable.

But, there are also many misconceptions about how important SEO copywriting is, how hard it is to learn, and what’s involved.

If this sounds like you, you could be holding yourself – and your clients – back.

Here’s why:

Adding keyphrases to the page doesn’t sabotage the writing – when it’s done right.

The biggest misconception I hear from print copywriters is, “I spend a lot of time working on an article. Why would I want to shove in extra words and ruin it?”

It’s true that there are (still) bad SEO copy examples out there. You know – those articles that read like, “Our Pilates studio in Portland is the best Pilates studio in the Portland area. Visit our Pilates studio in Portland, today!”

Here’s something you should know. That’s not considered good SEO writing. In fact, it’s considered spammy.

Good SEO writing is good writing, period. Yes, you’re making sure that certain keyphrases appear in the content – true.  But these phrases should easily fit within the copy. You’re not shoving in a word that doesn’t work or makes your copy clunk. Many times, you’re using words/phrases that you would have used anyway.

When you do it right, the keyphrases easily blend into the content. It’s seamless.

SEO copywriting isn’t too technical for you to learn.

I understand this fear. I really do. At first glance, learning about “Title elements” and “meta descriptions”  seems scary and foreign. I’ve chatted with many print copywriters who said, “I’m not ‘technical.’ I don’t think I can do this.”

Yes, you can do this. Really.

If you’ve been a print copywriter for 20 years, realizing that you have to learn another skill is daunting – yes. But it’s actually pretty easy to learn once you get past the SEO lingo.  Is there a learning curve? Yes. Will you get frustrated when you first start out? Sure.

Then, there will be that moment when everything clicks and you’re able to easily write a page without tripping over the keyphrases. Trust me. I’ve seen it happen literally hundreds of times.

(Don’t believe me? Check out this interview with Lynda Goldman, author of over 30 books.)

SEO content development isn’t a fad

I’ve been talking about SEO copywriting for 15 years now – and the topic shows no sign of going away. It may change and morph, but it won’t disappear. If you’re waiting for it to go away, you’ll be waiting a long, long time.

What you learn today about SEO copywriting won’t be obsolete tomorrow.

Yes, Google’s algorithms are evolving and changing. Yes, things are different today than they were five years ago. But here’s the thing: The general SEO copywriting guidelines have stayed stable over time. Why? Because “writing for the search engines” has always been about “create quality content for your reader.”

Of course, it makes sense to keep up with Google’s latest and greatest tweaks – they will help you refine your copywriting strategy and get better results. At the same time, you won’t have to completely toss out your previous knowledge and start over. You’ll be building on what you already know.

Your clients need this!

If you don’t know SEO copywriting – and one of your clients’ goals is getting found in the engines – you are costing your clients money and mindshare. Here’s why:

– Your articles won’t drive the traffic you (and your client) want.

– If the client wants optimized copy, they have to pay someone else to optimize it – which is expensive and inefficient.

You could be losing money

If nothing else, you’re leaving money on the table if you don’t learn this skill set.

I’ve talked with many print copywriters who said, “I resisted learning about this for a long time. But then my clients started asking for SEO copywriting services – and now I’m making more money than ever before.”  What seemed like a pain in the butt actually turned into a nice profit center. Plus, it was easier to learn than they thought, too.

And those kind of surprises are always a wonderful thing!

5 replies
  1. Kevin Carlton says:

    If anything, Heather, I find that doing keyword research improves my writing rather than makes it look spammy and unnatural.

    In a way, keyword research tools are like a thesaurus. They actually help you to find words that readers/visitors can relate to.

    In other words, I totally agree that incorporating keywords into your copy shouldn’t sabotage your writing at all.

  2. Katherine Andes says:

    In 2006, I read a book about the topic and threw it at the wall when I was finished, swearing I would never do that phony arbitrary keyword thing. A year later, I wrote content for a whole website and my client wasn’t doing well in search rankings. I decided I had better learn … I did. It’s not rocket science … My clients now do well in both search and conversion. And, as you say, Heather, my rates are higher than they would have been as just a print writer.

  3. Heather says:

    Thanks, Kevin and Katherine, for your comments!

    Kevin, I like your statement about how keyword research tools are like a thesaurus – very true!

    And Katherine…I’m getting a (funny) mental picture of you throwing a book against the wall (sorry, sorry!)


  4. Nick Stamoulis says:

    A search presence is everything. If your online content isn’t optimized, it’s not going to be found. Period. There’s a huge difference between properly optimizing your content and being spammy about it and it’s important to know that difference. Keywords should flow naturally. If they don’t, don’t add them or re-work the content.


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  1. […] What Print Copywriters Need to Know About SEO Copywriting Are you a print copywriter who has avoided SEO copywriting? Do you think that SEO ruins the content? Here are things you need to know about SEO copy. […]

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