SEO is probably the most talked about aspect of copywriting. And for a very good reason.
For business owners who are looking for a copywriter to write content for their website, what it takes to be ‘a successful copywriter’ must, by definition, include the concept of ‘being good at SEO.’ They expect to see high volume quality traffic coming to their website.
It follows then that content that a copywriter creates for a website is deemed worthless if this does not occur. So, every copywriter is under pressure – their reputation, their livelihoods are on the line – if their copy doesn’t receive the desired results. And some aren’t too picky about how they attempt to get those results.
When your reputation is on the line and failure is not an option, there’ll always be those ready and willing to ‘win’ by any means necessary, even if that means taking short-cuts. Cheating the system by trying to ‘trick’ search engines has been labelled ‘Black Hat SEO’.
Black Hat SEO
Black Hat SEO is the use of any unethical and deceptive strategies or techniques that do not follow search engines guidelines. The written content focuses completely on getting higher search rankings without any concern for the quality of information provided to readers.
Black Hat SEO strategies
To overload keywords on webpages to create ‘doorway pages’ (pages that redirect visitors without their knowledge). The goal is to ‘trick’ a search engine into giving the page a higher search ranking by increasing its ‘relevancy’.
A spamming technique that makes text visible to search engine spiders but not to human readers. A common example is making the text the same colour as the background.
The content that the reader sees and the content given to a search engine bot, crawler or spider is different – in order to distort search engine rankings.
What this means for copywriters
Up until quite recently, many copywriters were still using Black Hat SEO as their standard operating procedure. But in the years 2011 – 2013, when Google started using new and improved algorithms that could recognise Black Hat Strategies, they were in the position to start banning websites.
Black Hat SEO has been totally discredited – which has led to copywriters generally embracing its polar opposite…
White Hat SEO
White Hat SEO is all about providing content for readers rather than search engines. Rather than trying to ‘trick’ search engine algorithms, the goal is to make the content high quality, thereby making it accessible because it attracts links to other pages or content.
White Hat SEO Strategies
Look for keywords to incorporate in your text. Go to Google to look for long-tail keywords, use a keyword research tool to find competitor keywords and check out online communities for commonly used phrases. But the best tool is the performance report in Google Search Console that lists keywords sorted by the number of clicks.
Long-form, high-quality, in-depth content is highly rewarded by Google, especially if it is published consistently on your site. Regular blog posts that connect with readers keep them on your site longer, which will lead to a better ranking.
Make sure that your URLS are descriptive, optimise images with alt tags and create internal links between your website pages, and between web pages and blog posts.
What this means for copywriters
Why is White Hat SEO better for copywriters?
It is safer – there is no risk your website will be caught and banned by search engines
It is long-lasting – you will be creating valuable enduring content to a target audience, getting genuine leads that can become ongoing clients.
If you’d like to read more about the art of copywriting, look out for more blogs in this series. Or if you’d like to share your thoughts, contact me at [email protected].