This is an interesting question, one that can cause a deal of intense discussion from both the SEO Copywriting and Copywriting camps.
Before delving into this deeply, it is necessary to understand a bit more about both of these terms.
Copywriting has been defined as the process of creating ‘strategic’ content in order to build brand awareness and ultimately encourage consumers to take a desired action—normally to buy something or make an enquiry. It is also known as persuasive writing for this very reason.
It covers all sorts of channels, this including Emails, Brochures, even Video and Audio scripts, basically anywhere where a business is trying to influence its’ customers buying decisions or to build their brand.
Copywriting in its highest form is also all about ‘customer targeting’ (as opposed to ‘keyword targeting’). To do this the copy writer really needs to understand their clients’ audience, their needs aspirations and pain points, not to mention their family status, demographics, financial standing, geographic location and more.
This entails a deal of research and discussion with the client. All the above will be covered and the ‘tone of voice’ the client wishes to (and needs to employ) decided upon.
This can all take some time, which understandably increases the costs of creating the copy.
The name gives it away in a sense, the copy being produced with the Search Engines in mind, not just the reader – perhaps this is best described as ‘keyword targeting’. It is important to note though, that the copy MUST still be written mainly for the user, with the same aim of encouraging them to do something. The latter after all is the reason for the copy being commissioned in the first place.
SEO copywriting is only used on web or landing pages (including PDFs and other downloadable documents – the ones visible to Google that is).
The Big Difference
The REAL difference is not the quality of the writing (that should be as high as possible in both instances) BUT the fact that SEO Copywriting goes a bit further in that it covers the requirements of Google.
What Are Googles’ Extra Requirements?
Good copywriters will use many words to ‘put across the message’ of their clients, the best making the content ‘dance off the page and into the users’ brain’. When this is done by a real expert, Google tends to get all it needs and no extra work is needed.
However, in many instances the copy does not contain enough word variation for Google. If nothing is done, Google may well not rate the page as highly as they might, and that will reduce its effectiveness.
The Best Combination – Top Content + Word Optimisation
The way around this situation is for the copy to be tested against the algorithm that Google is known to use. This generates a list of ‘extra’ words, and if enough are woven into the copy then the SEO scores will be improved and the page will then get better rankings and more traffic.
Another benefit is that these ‘word optimised’ pages are more likely to be found for a whole new range of long tail keywords – the variation of words encouraging Google to rank the page for many different terms.
Don’t Forget Emotional Resonance…
This is not a new term, but is being given a new lease of life in the Online World.
Statistics suggest that 80% of readers will actually read the headlines they see, but only 20% will then go on to read the entire blog or article.
This means you really have to hook your readers with the headline. If you fail to do this, your article will remain unread.
Emotional Resonance is all about creating that link with the reader, triggering emotions that drive them to continue to read the full item. This starts with the Title of course, but must be continued throughout the copy. The aim is to create a ‘connection with the reader’, this being necessary to maintain their attention and show them that you understand their needs and pain points.
One of the latest methods being used here are ‘Interactive Videos’ or clickable elements on the pages which allow the user to navigate the page and ‘make their own story’ from the contents.
Some say that SEO writing is aimed at people at the top of the decision funnel – those who are still investigating solutions to a particular problem or need.
On the other hand, so this argument goes, Copywriting is mainly aimed at potential customers who are really warm and almost ready to buy.
I don’t agree with this line of thought myself, in my view both copywriting and SEO writing have the same aim – which is to attract, engage, and convert leads at all stages of the buying process.
But What About The Real World?
The fact is that in the real world, businesses will not always do everything that they should, cost often stopping them going the ‘whole hog’.
For this reason, not all content will be written by the very best available copywriter. Instead, the words will be provided and not Optimised, or provided by an SEO copywriter, who tend to be more concerned with the Search Engines and are perhaps are not as good a copywriter – however, they are often a lot cheaper…
The Best of Both WorldsThe best of both worlds is for the copy to be written by a true EXPERT copywriter and then checked by an SEO expert, the two working together to produce something that FULLY MEETS the needs of both the Search Engines and Customers alike.
I hope this helps a little in understanding the differences between the two types and helps you to decide what route you will take for your website.
You can find more information on https://www.campaignmonitor.com/blog/email-marketing/2019/02/copywriting-vs-seo-writing-whats-the-difference/