If you are an expert in SEO and copywriting, then you have the holy grail in your hands. However, this does not occur very often, and as a result of this scarcity, SEO experts and copywriters have to work together on a regular basis. Yes, a conflict can sometimes flare up. In this article, I will explain how you can avoid such conflicts with the help of a style guide.
Just imagine: you are a content manager and your team, consisting of an SEO specialist and a copywriter, is struggling. The copywriter wants to use the word ‘blue red wine glasses’ in his text, but the SEO specialist insists that better results will be produced when you write ‘wine red glasses’. This is out of the question for your copywriter, because a correct spelling exudes professionalism. You do not sell red wine glasses, but blue red wine glasses, however, from the point of view of the SEO expert, something else counts: you have to be found. And it makes sense. Never the less, both the copywriters and the SEO expert have solid logic behind their opinion.
Do you opt for appearance or traffic?
So, there is something to say to both parties. What would you choose? A professional appearance, or more traffic to your website from search engines? Or is there a golden middle? Dilemmas such as these often occur during the collaboration between SEO specialists and copywriters. Where one wants to tell a smooth and persuasive story, while the other’s primary goal is to is found on the web.
So it is essential to find the right balance between these two. And that is sometimes quite a challenge. In this article, I’ll tell you how to deal with this struggle. But first, a brief history lesson about the development of SEO (that you can skip if you are only here for the tips).
The beginning of SEO
In the beginning, there was copywriting: a course in which text writers wrote promotional advertisements in the form of magazine articles, newsletters, and posters. Since the beginning of the nineties, web copy has been added to the list. Back then, with the underlying persuasive idea of offline marketing.
Only after the introduction of WebCrawler in 1994, it became possible to search for websites by “keywords.” But it was the roll-out and the development of PageRank that made thinking about your web content increasingly important. PageRank was the first algorithm from Google that divided all web information based on link popularity, meta tags, and technology. More and more people were involved in optimizing websites in order to get as high as possible in the search results. SEO was born.
What did this mean for copywriters?
Much has changed since the ‘birth’ of SEO. SEO has long since ceased to place all its importance on a large number of backlinks on an external website. Google’s algorithm has become a lot more complicated: content, technology and link building all play a significant role. And that has considerably influenced the traditional way of working with copywriters. For example, they should suddenly take into account the ranking of a website. Keywords, titles, and headings must be formulated according to a real strategy.
Conversion as the main goal
Of course, this was also done before. But before the SEO era, particular attention was paid to the persuasive sales idea that encouraged action. The conversion was the primary goal. It took time for the necessary adjustments because the web copy has become a lot more critical as a result of the introduction of the SEO.
Different types of in content
Example: Sometimes, it’s impossible to write a web copy that will make use of all the essential keywords and be persuasive at the same time. Talking to a real person, using the right words that make an impact isn’t the same as composing a text where the same keywords reappear with an annoying frequency. As a result, many companies write two copies, one designed to convert and the other – SEO optimized.
Because two things must be taken into account – “convincing tone” and “seo optimization” – it is likely that problems arise between the copywriter and SEO specialist. Take for example the wine issue from the introduction.
SEO example of Red wine
It is essential for a copywriter that the product is well described. ‘Red wine glasses’ is therefore incorrect, because the wine glasses that you sell are not red, but blue. ‘Blue red wine glasses’ is the right term, but the thing is, this search term is dead. For example, the word ‘blue red wine glasses’ has an average of 0 searches per month, while ‘red wine glasses’ have 590.
If your blue wine glasses were actually red, then ‘red red wine glasses’ would be the correct term, but that just a side note.
SEO example of Pizza Margherita
The same applies to the pizza Margherita. The correct spelling, ‘pizza Margherita’, has 0 searches. The wrong spelling ‘pizza Margarita’ has 2400. What should you choose?
Style guide offers opportunities
In order to prevent possible conflicts, it is wise to draw up a style guide. This can help with similar disputes but is also useful if you regularly work with freelance copywriters, for example.
A rough outline of how your collaboration with freelancers looks like:
- You find an affordable copywriter (takes two weeks on average).
- You send him or her the topics, keywords, website, and end deadline.
- You receive the content.
- You are working on editing for another twenty hours.
Time wasted, don’t you think? Me too. Therefore follow my advice: Prepare a style guide before the collaboration with all the information that the copywriter might need. If you do have a clear idea of the content, do your best to describe it to the writer, because he cannot read your thoughts. I hope.
You naturally ask yourself how to design such a style guide so that I will help you with that. This way, you will set up a style guide
Before you start writing your style guide for copywriting, it is good to put some things on paper. You can make the part of your style guide, but you can also give it a different name.
About the brand
The first and most important questions are:
- What is the mission of the brand?
- Which words, sentences, and taglines are associated with the brand?
- What is the purpose of the content?
- Who is the target group?
- What problem does the target group have, and what solution does the brand offer?
- Which tone of voice does the brand use?
- Which writing style does the brand use?
- Via which platforms is the content of this brand shared?
- Which conversions does the brand aspire to?
About the content
With this information, a copywriter can already do a lot. Because imagine: if you know all these things about the brand, you can already pretty well assess how a text for this brand should look like, right? Excellent. Then it’s time for the essential points for your copywriter:
- The title: long or short, which keyword, striking or inconspicuous?
- The metadata: which keyword, what kind of call-to-action, number of characters, related keywords, brand name?
- The number of words: What’s the minimum?
- Keywords: a list of all the keywords.
- Keyword processing: where and how should the keywords be processed?
- Internal links: how many internal links (and to which pages)?
- External links: how many external links and to which pages (if possible)?
- Headers: which H1s, H2s, and H3s do you use, with or without keywords and where are they placed?
- Classification: how should the text be classified?
- The number of sentences per paragraph: minimum and maximum sentences per paragraph?
- Call-to-action: how many call-to-actions need to be covered?
- Other: what other elements are important for the copywriter to know?
If all these details are clear, then the copywriter actually has all the information he or she needs to write a good text (otherwise I would recommend you to look for another writer). However, with the answers to the above questions, it is not yet clear how to deal with an analogous wine or pizza conflict.
Turn on a helpline
Choosing a side on such issues is difficult. It is true that both are right. An accurately (and correctly) written keyword can make the text look more professional, but is less popular. If you go for the ideal SEO spelling, your text will probably enjoy better visibility in search engines, but it will appear less professional. This could result in a higher bounce rate, lower sales, but that is not necessarily going to happen. Trying different strategies and keywords, split testing, measuring and improving could probably be the only feasible solution here.
Go into conversation with your customer.
To prevent similar conflicts, my tip is to talk to your customer before the writing process. See where all possible conflicts are and explain the pros and cons of each choice. A sommelier will probably prefer ‘blue wine glasses’ because of his expertise, but a wholesaler who simply wants to move the goods will undoubtedly go for ‘red wine glasses.’ By consulting with your client, you will demonstrate that you think along with them and take them into your decision. Chances are that this will be appreciated.
Hopefully, with this article, I was able to help you find the golden middle in your SEO & copywriting conflict. If you have any questions, comments or any additional ideas, I would like to hear them! So, now it is time for a pizza and a glass of red wine.