Ralf Schulz
By Ralf Schulz | Content Writing, SEO | October 13, 2014

Not Just Advertising: How SEO Content Differs from Copywriting

To some observers, content writing for Search Engine Optimization appears to be a modern-day offshoot of copywriting. Just as copywriting has long been a common route to conventional employment for humanities majors, SEO content writing is becoming an increasingly popular career choice among well-trained writers. It especially appeals to those who enjoy writing as a career but would rather not spend their days frantically trying to make an income from short stories or scant freelance work. However, SEO content writing is a discipline unto itself, and is far different from the older practice of writing ad copies in many respects. At the same time, copywriting principles are an integral part of the skilled content writer’s toolkit. Think of a good content article as a colorful essay with a copywriter’s touch to it. The ideal content writer is both an essayist and a copywriter at heart. Here are some crucial differences and overlaps between the two disciplines: -Branding. This is the domain of copywriting. It is valuable to connect the company’s name with the products and services it sells. This can be achieved through such typical devices as slogans, jingles, catchphrases, and attention-grabbing titles and headlines.


The essay-writing end of content writing, on the other hand, is concerned with exposition and colorful details. This keeps the reader of the article satisfied—not so satisfied that they will happily buy any product mentioned in an article, but enough that they will be pleased to hear a bit of exposition on the client’s products and services. -Sincerity. Sure, so some content essays contain fluff, and content article are often spruced up with pitchman’s jargon. (“Satisfaction guaranteed!” “Why shop anywhere else?” “The highest quality at the lowest prices!”) But these examples are clichéd and serve well as examples of bad copywriting. Written content is designed, above all, to be interesting. If content makes a good read and is relevant to the client’s products or services, it has already achieved its aim, as the now-intrigued reader is already on the client’s website! While the copywriter needs to grab the audience by the throat and demand its attention—“FREE! NEW! BUY NOW!”—the essayist need not even begin or end with an explicit sales pitch. Good exposition on the client’s product is what the bulk of content should achieve! The promotion of the product can be lower-key.


-The overlap. Copywriting plays a vital role in good content writing. The exposition of detail must come with undertones of product promotion. Sometimes this can be simple—a veteran content writer knows to set up a hyperlink to a relevant product page whenever the opportunity arises. However, content writers must strike a balance between authenticity—their essays cannot appear to be written solely to promote a product—and purpose. Content writers are, after all, hired to help sell products. Typical places for copywriting to seep into a content article include the title, which should grab attention; the introduction, which should sustain the reader’s interest; and the tactful mention of how a client’s services and products relate to the topic of the essay. For instance, a content writer producing an article for a company that makes sewing machines may start with an essay on sewing by-hand, and work in a mention of how much easier it can be to sew with a sewing machine! The writer of quality SEO content is both an essayist and a copywriter. When it’s your turn to create content, never forget to show both sides of your content writer’s toolkit!

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