Why Copywriters Hate SEO Professionals (and Top 2014 On-Page Tips)

West Point Women's BoxingToday’s article isn’t meant to stir up controversy (lord knows there’s enough people who happily engage in that role), but to have an honest conversation about on-page optimization, aka SEO copywriting.

Let’s just get to the crux of it: copywriters hate SEO professionals.

Now maybe hate is a strong word, but let me just say – from personal experience – that many copywriters have a bad taste in their mouth about SEO professionals who want to come in and make them insert clunky keywords and do it in a seamless way. Or change their beautiful, clever heading in favor of one that is more straightforward and includes a keyword.

I have special insight into this relationship, because I was a copywriter. My SEO specialty is copywriting and content. I can certainly empathize with the copywriter’s role…because so much goes into putting a perfect piece of copy together that adding in keywords just adds another layer.

And I’m pretty sure I’ve gotten the stink eye from across the table on more than one occasion when copywriters are told they need to start working in SEO elements.

BUT – I firmly believe SEO copywriting does not have to compromise a good piece of copy. I believe that keywords can be integrated into copy smoothly; it just requires creativity, finesse and understanding a few basic principles.

And of course, the art of negotiating and patience to make sure copywriters and SEOs compromise and play nicely.

6 Takeaways for SEO On-Page Optimization

Today, I’d like to share a few takeaways from this on-page optimization article that I thought totally rocked. It also shares why good copywriting is so incredibly essential to the success of SEO. Here are a few of my favorite takeaways:

  • Love this top tip: Does your SEO content pass the QUART test? Quality, uniqueness, authority, relevance, trust.
  • The #1 mistake you can make in your efforts to optimize content? Fixating on individual elements instead of looking at SEO holistically
  • The purpose of keywords for content: help you better determine the focus of the content and to influence the title of the article. Then – let good writers write and meet the user’s needs.
  • One of my favorite tips: “Readability. Don’t make your users work for your content. People don’t generally read. They scan.”
  • Stop neglecting your title tag: Put some thought into writing an engaging, interesting title tag that is keyword rich and will entice clicks.
  • Visual content needs text: From infographics to videos to images, you still need to include accompanying text content to help the search engines know what the graphic is about.

Your turn:

I’d love to hear from you – do you have any great tips on on-page optimization? Or how to keep the peace and foster compromise between copywriters and SEO professionals?


Photo Credit: West Point – The U.S. Military Academy

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Jenny Munn

Jenny is an independent Digital Marketer and SEO Consultant with more than 10 years of experience helping companies and content creators generate brand awareness, traffic, and conversions with SEO. She is a frequent speaker and is on the faculty for the AMA (American Marketing Association) and has taught SEO to thousands of marketers over the past 10 years.


  • Jenny, thanks, you’re absolutely right — people SCAN. Until something catches their attention, then they FOCUS. The continual cycle of scanning and focusing I think is how we approach home pages (and also what happens when we walk into, say, a retail store). To me, that suggests that reader-friendly home page copy should be broken in to multiple bite-size chunks, each with their own header. What it means for writers is that they only have to add keywords to some of these headers and copy chunks. Others can stay clever and uncompromised.

    • Jenny Munn says:

      Thanks, Tom! Homepages are definitely the exception with SEO copywriting. We often don’t have a lot of space – or need – for 350 words in order to work in keywords. Great insight into how that works!

  • Tom Nguyen says:

    Jenny, I agree with everything you said in this post. I’ve heard the rule that if you’re ever in doubt, write for people because they are the ones who are reading your content.

    As far as a tip for on-page optimization, I would link to other pages in the body copy. It is not enough to just link to pages via the nav menu. Interlinking pages in the main content gives the website a nice flow. The reader can be directed where to go without having to scroll up to the nav menu which could be cumbersome. I have seen so many websites that only link pages together via the navigation menu. Interlinking pages not only helps the reader, it’s beneficial from a SEO standpoint because keywords could be inserted into the anchor text.

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