You write well. You understand good grammar, proper punctuation, and storytelling. And, of course, you know how to be persuasive, perhaps the most important of all copywriting skills. Unfortunately, that’s not enough to be a successful copywriter in our time.
You see, the Internet has changed everything. Whereas in David Ogilvy’s time you could get away with just understanding your customers and then writing persuasive copy, you now must go above and beyond. Ogilvy never had to deal with Google’s search engine results pages (SERPs), but you do, especially if you want to work on more lucrative projects like blog posts, website copy, and landing page copy.
The more you understand search engine optimization (SEO), the likelier you can parlay that understanding into higher-paying and longer-term projects. Instead of depending on you to simply write ad copy, your clients will now also depend on you to guide them through the confusing labyrinth of search visibility.
Here’s how this works.
How Copywriting Has Changed in the 21st Century
Many copywriters today are in fact, online copywriters. They write for the web—for all the billions of people consuming the content on websites and apps. There are specialized copywriting agencies and platforms like Fiverr and Upwork where anyone can quickly find copywriters.
Writing for the web generally means writing assets like:
- Website copy
- Landing page copy
- Blog posts
- Case studies
- Infographic scripts
- Social media copy
- White papers
Being able to expertly write these assets is one thing. You do a good job, and your client is pleased. They may or may not hire you for another project. If all you do as a copywriter is write the text and submit it, your clients generally view that as the entire scope of your services, which limits you.
Think for a second, though, if you can legitimately add greater value to the copy you just turned in, whatever asset it may be.
What if you could directly tie the worth of your copywriting asset to driving more traffic and revenue to your client’s website?
What if you could directly measure this relationship in a demonstrable way?
That’s exactly what understanding SEO empowers you to do.
What Exactly Is SEO and Why Do Copywriters Need to Learn That?
SEO stands for search engine optimization and refers to organic search. It’s the various strategies and tactics marketers use to ensure that a website can be organically found for specific keywords when users perform searches on Google or other search engines. This is in stark contrast to paid search or search engine marketing (SEM), which is the use of paid ads (think Google Ads) to surface websites to users and customers. Both SEO and SEM are part of search marketing.
If you’re a web copywriter, then some of the words you write as part of the content for a webpage can become specific keywords that website visitors use to find your content (and the root domain itself) through organic search.
If you understand SEO, you can do so much more than just write copy for clients. You can actually perform more technical and heavy-duty services like:
- Keyword research
- Keyword gap analyses
- Search competitor analyses
Based on the above, you now have the power to offer keyword plans to clients that would’ve ordinarily just hired you to write text. Since devising an entire keyword strategy lays the foundation for content production for many months down the road, you’ve also helped to guarantee longer commitments from your clients.
You don’t need a fancy degree or official credentialing to learn SEO. The web is replete with high-quality sources for you to learn the ins and outs of SEO, such as:
How Keyword Research and Strategy Can Ensure Longer and More High-Paying Copywriting Projects
The secret to turning mere copywriting projects into larger packages that include SEO services is to sell your clients on the value of the keyword research you’ll perform.
The purpose of keyword research is to determine where (based on specific keywords) a website is losing search ground to its competitors. Once you uncover this information, it’s possible to take search market share away from said competitors via the great content you’ll produce. This content needs to be optimized for the specific keywords in question, contain answers to relevant questions searchers have and provide information that’s better than the competition. The more market share you take away from competitors, the more traffic goes to your client’s website, earning them more conversions and revenue.
Therefore, you can legitimately present the content you write as the solution to your client’s organic search woes. Since content takes time to gain traction on the web, you can also legitimately tell clients that, to get the best results, they’ll have to commit to a series of months’ content work from you.
In one fell swoop, you’ve:
- Educated clients on the value of SEO
- Linked your copywriting to solving the problems your keyword research has discovered
- Upsold your services
To perform the keyword research itself, you’ll have to invest in an SEO tool. There are a few on the market, available at different price points and through subscriptions. In my experience, the best ones are:
How to Sell Copywriting Projects With an SEO Component
Congrats! At this point, you’ve graduated to bundling your copywriting services with SEO strategy. Now, all that’s left is to convincingly present yourself to leads not only as a copywriter but a more well-rounded marketer who understands SEO, too.
To do this, don’t just say that you’re a writer. Don’t just say that you write a wide variety of content. Present yourself as a marketer who:
- Provides SEO services
- Conducts keyword research
- Uses this keyword data to inform the content-writing plan
- Can make a big, positive impact on a client’s website rankings in the SERPs
- Can therefore increase a client’s revenue substantially
When you sell yourself this way to your prospects, you’ll command bigger projects that pay more and last for longer engagements. You’ve upped your skillset, demonstrated greater value to your clients, and increased their commitment level to you.
Why It’s Not Just About Writing
Copywriting today is not only about writing text. While the craft has always demanded an understanding of persuasion, consumer psychology, and marketing, today it demands more of you. It demands that you master SEO.
When you master SEO, a whole new world of opportunities opens up to you. Clients see you not just as an ad writer, but a serious marketing strategist who can drive more value and revenue to them. This in turn makes them more dependent on you, empowering you to earn more and work on bigger projects.
Continue Reading: Local SEO vs International SEO: What’s the Difference?
About the Author
Marc Schenker is a copywriter and SEO who runs The Glorious Company, a content marketing agency. The Glorious Company works with technology and marketing companies and SMBs.