Occasionally, a headline will reference how SEO killed creative copy (among other things). For writers who’ve never produced content without considering optimization, this notion may be particularly appealing. After all, who wouldn’t want to escape the eyes of an increasingly critical algorithm? Who wouldn’t want the freedom to write just for human readers?
If you’re a veteran copywriter, you know the flaw in this unfettered nostalgia. The reality is that copy, by its very definition, is an advertisement. Even before the formulaic constraints of SEO, copywriters were bound to whatever marketing practices pervaded the times. Just because the strategies have changed doesn’t mean that SEO-minded writers can be creative.
Arguably, copywriters must be even MORE creative in the era of SEO to avoid losing readers with clumsy optimization techniques. If you’re struggling to marry these ideas, know that it’s totally possible to write vibrant, SEO-optimized copy; you just have to be intentional. Keep reading to learn four tips for keeping optimizations fresh.
At Hire a Writer, we know that SEO and creativity shouldn’t be an either/or scenario. When you need compelling content that also ranks, we’ve got you covered. Visit us online to learn more.
SEO Writer vs. Copywriter
If you’re a freelancer, the distinction between SEO writer and copywriter may feel arbitrary; they both engage a target audience and share the same end-goal. Despite their similarities, they do differ in key ways. SEO writers write for search engines; copywriters write for a target market. However, the lines between the two are increasingly blurred.
Ten years ago, most people hadn’t heard of SEO (even though it’s existed since the late 1990s). Today, most people who hire copywriters have at least a rudimentary understanding of SEO and its purpose. More importantly, they want their online content — all of their online content — to rank. This puts many copywriters in an uncomfortable position, but it doesn’t have to.
You may prefer to think of yourself as either an SEO writer or a copywriter, but the truth is that you have to be both. SEO content that is devoid of creativity is bizarre and feels disingenuous; creative copy that can’t rank is a poor advertisement. Luckily, it’s easy to do both after you understand how to balance the two.
1. Imagine a House
What are the most important features of a house? Arguably, the most critical features are the foundation, frame, roof — the structural elements that keep it standing. However, no one wants to live in a house that only has those things. Similarly, no one wants to live in a gorgeous home that isn’t structurally sound. It’s the same with SEO-optimized content.
Whenever you’re writing web content, you need to lay the groundwork before the real creativity can begin. Making a blueprint that fulfills your SEO requirements gives you a lot of leeway to shake things up in the actual text. Too often, writers try to write for the search engine and the reader at the same time. Instead of dividing your energy, appease the search engine with the blueprint first. Then you’ll have the freedom to speak directly to the reader in each paragraph.
2. Redefine Simplicity
Few SEO best practices irk copywriters like readability. However, you don’t have to dilute your concepts to achieve readability. Sure, your sentences may be shorter, and you may not get to use your word of the day. However, you can still describe complex scenarios and ideas with simple sentences. It’s all about finding the right sequence.
Simple language can be elegant, even powerful. But more importantly, simple language is more easily understood by more people. In fact, disability advocates say that plain language writing is an essential part of cognitive accessibility. Readability, including simple language and outlined structure, is good for everyone.
3. Prioritize the Human Reader
When in doubt, default to human readers. If your whole SEO strategy requires awkward keyword placements, reassess your strategy. SEO ranks pages, but readers buy products. When readers find an article high in the SERPs, they expect insight. Don’t make them read something that was written to be indexed.
We all make stylistic compromises for SEO; that’s the price of multitasking. To write content that appeals to both search engines and readers, writers must strike a balance. Allowing the scales to tip toward a human audience might hurt your rankings. On the other hand, becoming too SEO-oriented removes the human element from a very human craft. Always err on the side of the reader.
4. Understand Why it Matters
Every writer wants someone to read their words. When writers understand the impact correct formatting and optimizations have on reach, they’re more invested. If you’re feeling disconnected from your content optimizations, pause to do some research. How much organic traffic do your pieces get? How long are people staying on the page? Answering these questions can renew interest and even spark fresh ideas for engagement.
Creative SEO Content
There’s a reason that SEO experts still say that “content is king.” It’s because without high-quality content, none of the rest matters. SEO can deliver new readers to a website, but content has to do the selling. That’s why it’s critical that copywriters never sacrifice their creativity for SEO best practices.
At the end of the day, the idea that you have to choose SEO or creativity is a false dilemma. You don’t have to choose; you can do both beautifully if you work at it. Whenever you’re attempting to do two things at once, it’s important to understand the role of each task and how it affects the other. That’s something that the copywriters at Hire a Writer have mastered.
Whether you need blog posts, landing pages, website content, marketing emails or other materials, Hire a Writer has the perfect writer for you. When you’re working with professional copywriters, no topic is too complex for a creative approach. Ready to make your mark? Contact Hire a Writer today to get started.