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SEO at the Expense of Good Copy -- No Way!
By Jill Whalen

Last Monday I was reading the excellent email discussion newsletter   I-Copywriting, and was surprised to see a post by Mike Banks Valentine that I heartily disagreed with. I usually agree with Mike, and in fact he has written a few guest articles for me. (See Press Release SEO - Media Kit Linking Campaigns.)

Of course, I quickly dashed off a rebuttal to the list, and have decided to share it with you since I feel so strongly about this. You can also participate in a discussion of this subject over at the High Rankings Forum, where moderator Karon Thackston (who also rebutted the original post) started an interesting thread.

Enjoy! - Jill

Mike Banks Valentine wrote (in part):

"SEO's take existing web copy and massage it to make the text and page structure "crawler friendly" so that those search engine spiders will recognize what a given page is 'about.' The goal is to gain top rankings in the search engines for competitive keyword phrases targeted by our clients.

"Those clients could often benefit from a seasoned professional writer RE-writing their web pages as well, but only if they were willing to FOREGO high search engine rankings."

Sorry, Mike, but you've got to be kidding? There's an entire new field created just for this purpose called SEO Copywriting (which I just might have had a little hand in creating!). The whole idea is to write for the search engines AND the site visitors. There's absolutely no reason to forego high rankings in exchange for professional copywriting. The thought of that is simply ludicrous to me.

Yes, it's true that the typical SEO's job is to edit existing copy so that it utilizes the keyword phrases. In fact, that's my specialty, and it's what my Nitty-gritty report is based on. BUT...and this is a huge's not always possible to edit existing copy in a way that will make sense for the search engines and the site's users.

In those cases, it's imperative that the SEO put away their ego to step down and let the professional copywriters take over. I firmly believe that any good professional copywriter worth their salt can easily be trained in SEO copywriting. In fact, it takes them generally about 2 or 3 pages to understand what they need to do, as long as they have the benefit of a decent SEO teaching them.

SEOs should stay away from trying to write copy, just as copywriters should stay away from thinking they are SEOs just because they know how to write for the search engines. Both need to work together, not separately.

In my opinion, any SEO who does not have a professional copywriter on staff or contracted out is doing a huge disservice to their clients, because there's no sense in getting high rankings if your site's copy sounds like it was written by an SEO. It will be a million times harder to make a sale under those circumstances. Let's face it, the best SEOs are somewhat technically inclined, and the best copywriters are generally creatively inclined. Together, they make a killer optimization team.

For all you professional copywriters on this list, the world of SEO copywriting is wide open right now. There are only a few really good people in the field, although it's growing by leaps and bounds. SEO is hot, very hot. If you're having trouble finding good writing jobs, I would strongly suggest that you learn the art of SEO copywriting and then find some SEOs to partner with. You will benefit, the SEO will benefit and most of all, the clients looking for high rankings, sales and a site that totally rocks will benefit from it!


Jill Whalen is the owner of and moderator of the free weekly email newsletter, the High Rankings' Advisor. She is also known for her moderation of the critically acclaimed, Rank Write Roundtable. Jill specializes in search engine optimization, directory submissions, SEO consultations and workshops. She has obtained hundreds of number 1 and 2 spots for her vast array of clients throughout the years. Clients include multi-million dollar companies, major universities, real estate agencies, attorneys, surgeons, dentists, and small-medium sized businesses.

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