Today I have been mostly writing – SEO copy. SEO, search engine optimisation, is the means of getting traffic to your website from the search results on search engines – “naturally”, as they say, i.e. without paying. Writing content that contains frequently-searched keywords is a way of increasing traffic.

However, this process can throw up some interesting writing styles…Few things make me wince as much as badly-written SEO copy.

A problem of focussing too much on keywords is that sometimes the reader gets lost in the process. It’s no good ranking highly on Google and the other search engines if readers are then turned off your website because it is, frankly, unreadable. By the time someone has found your website, they deserve to be able to read it.  SEO copy can be clunky and cumbersome, with keywords painfully grafted on to the text.

Here’s a made-up example to illustrate my point. This is the home page for Ye Olde Pub*, a tavern hoping to raise its profile as a place for dining in York:

“Welcome to Ye Old Pub restaurant in York. We offer a great food, a range of beers and the best welcome in restaurant in York. If you’re looking for a great place for a meal out restaurant in York, then Ye Olde Pub is the perfect restaurant in York for you.”

See what I mean?

What can a copywriter do to help? I don’t pretend to be an expert in SEO. I leave all the technical stuff and keyword research to the experts. What I can do is ensure that any SEO terms you or your techy people choose to use become part of the text, not uncomfortable add-ons. It is also possible to “retro-fit” the SEO terms into existing copy – again, taking care that they become a seamless part of the text.

It’s not difficult to tweak Ye Olde Pub’s opening paragraph:

“Welcome to Ye Olde Pub, a warm and welcoming pub and restaurant in York, in the heart of the old city. We serve great food, have a wide range of beers and ales – and we feel that we offer the best welcome of any restaurant in York!”

So, driving traffic to your website is good – just make sure that when the traffic arrives, poor copy doesn’t make it want to reverse straight out again.


*Entirely my invention. The fact I chose pub grub as my example is an indication of where my head’s at today.