Copywriting Vs. SEO Writing: What’s the Difference?

Content marketing has revolutionized the way marketers reach,
engage, and convert their leads into customers.

Two branches of content marketing that are crucial to every
business are copywriting and SEO writing.

Sometimes these two may overlap, or some marketers may group
them in the same category, executing an overall content strategy
without differentiating between the two.

As a marketer, knowing the difference between copywriting and
SEO writing is important and, when implemented correctly, will help
you achieve the results you’re looking for.

In this article, we’ll discuss each one and how you can
maximize each in your integrated marketing strategy.

The foundations of content marketing

In order to fully understand the difference between copywriting
and SEO writing, we first of all need to get an understanding of
content marketing as a whole.

Content marketing
is the process of creating and sharing
 content with the purpose of attracting, engaging, and converting

Contrary to popular belief, it’s nothing new at all. It has
been around for hundreds of years and is popularly traced all the
way back to
Benjamin Franklin

The content itself comes in various formats like emails, web
pages, blog posts, video, press releases, social media posts, and
any other messaging you include in your marketing campaign. The one
thing all content has in common is that it all involves words that
need to be written in a special way in order to achieve an end

This is where the confusion can set in. While all these
marketing assets require writing, not all deliverables should be
written the same way.

Think of it as a conversation in real life. Even though you may
tell the same story to two different people, you probably change
the way you tell your mom versus your best friend. The same concept
applies to content marketing because, although your end goal is the
same, you’re communicating information in a different context or
driving conversions using a different method.

That’s the reason significant differences exist between
copywriting and SEO writing.

A deeper look at copywriting

Copywriting is defined as strategically creating content to
build brand awareness and ultimately encourage consumers to take a
particular action—most likely, this is associated with a
purchase. It is also called persuasive writing for this very

Copywriting can cover a multitude of projects, and it can take
many forms, depending on your company and product.

Copywriters mainly focus on projects such as:

  • Email
  • Direct mail
  • Web pages
  • Landing pages
  • Print advertisements
  • Video and audio scripts

This is just a small sample of the long list of projects
copywriters may work on.

Elements of good copywriting

In order for a copywriter to produce
good copy
, it’s important for the copy to have certain
elements that will make it strong enough to leave an impression and
move people.

1. Targeted

Copywriting is a discipline that creates copy for a specific
audience. In order for the copy to be effective, it has to address
a particular problem or pain point in that target group, presenting
the brand as a solution.

Because of this, copywriters must understand the psychology of
the people they are writing for. This is an invaluable skill that
will help the copywriter push the right buttons in the consumer of
the content.

Targeted copy

Image Source:
Buyer Seller Insights

To create targeted copy for specific individuals, you should
start by creating buyer personas. This means pinpointing specific
demographic groups within your target audience, which will help you
remember who you’re talking to with your copy.

Without first acknowledging your target audience, your copy will
easily get caught in the shuffle of constant messaging

2. Emotional appeal

Another strong element of copywriting is that it has the ability
to tug at the reader’s emotions.

To do this, copywriters learn the skill and art of using certain
words that elicit the desired emotional response. In the same vein,
they also know to omit particular words to create a specific user
or reader experience.

This especially applies to copywriting for mediums that require
small word counts, like subject lines in emails or headlines in

According to research conducted by Copyblogger, 80% of your
will read your headline. But only 20% will read the
entire article. If you fail to hook them with your headline, no
matter how great your copy is, you won’t get people to read

This is why copywriting is such a fundamental skill in
marketing. It takes a lot of effort and talent to create copy that
produces results.

SEO Writing: What is it all about?

If ever there’s a field of marketing that is a mystery for
many, it’s the field of SEO. SEO, or search engine optimization,
is a field where you focus on the best practices that help your
content rank well on search engines like Google, Bing, and

So, what is SEO writing?

SEO writing, or on-page SEO, is a type of writing where you
focus on creating content that is both search engine and

One mistake that many content creators make is to focus on
creating content that is search engine friendly and neglect the
user experience. These are black hat SEO
techniques that will not get you anywhere. Some bad SEO practices

  • Keyword stuffing
  • Cloaking
  • Buying backlinks

White hat SEO (the good kind) involves writing content with the
user in mind.

The main focus of SEO writing is to create content that is not
just informative but is also designed to be easily discoverable by
search engines.

Key components of SEO writing

SEO writing is not at all like writing a novel. Because this
kind of writing seeks to achieve a page that ranks within search
results, the writer needs to ensure that the writing has some
important elements.

Keyword research

is a discipline by which an SEO writer researches
certain words that people search for in relation to your product or
service. These words (or phrases in the case of long-tail keywords)
usually direct the content you will create.

keyword research

Image Source: KWFinder

Because SEO writing is more about producing informative content
that answers a question, you will use these keywords to answer
questions your readers are asking. You can also use them to create
guides and other types of informative content.

Write for readers first

The mistake many novice SEO writers make is that they write for
search engines first.

While it is important to make your content “crawlable”, one
of the main things Google mainly looks for in content is relevance.
For your content to be relevant, it has to be written for humans,
not search bots.

Another reason SEO writing needs to be reader focused is that
Google algorithms rank content based on user intent.

The advantages of writing for your readers are that you get many

(if your content is good) and social media shares.
Both factors help your content rank higher, thus becoming more

Pay attention to algorithm changes

Because search engine algorithms are always changing, SEO
writing best practices are also always changing. This makes it
mandatory for SEO writers to constantly upgrade skills.

These just a few of the main concepts that are central to SEO
writing. It is a very broad field that needs more space than this
to fully explain.

Copywriting vs. SEO Writing: The one big similarity

Copywriting and SEO writing may be two different disciplines,
but they do have common ground. Besides the fact that both require
serious writing chops, they also have one common goal—to drive
your business forward.

The main goal of both copywriting and SEO writing is to attract,
engage, and convert leads.

But they approach that goal from different angles.

Let’s look at those differences, shall we?

Copywriting vs. SEO Writing: The main differences

Now that you have an idea of what copywriting and SEO writing
are, we can zoom in on the major differences. This will help you as
a marketer to know which kind of writing is needed for a particular


The biggest difference between copywriting and SEO writing is
the way the writing is consumed.

You could say that both types of writing are optimized to meet
the reader or consumer where they are—SEO writing meets them on a
webpage, while copywriting may meet them on a TV commercial,
printed ad, or the product labeling.

Of course, both types of writing can be consumed online, and
generally, SEO writing is more comprehensive and can be found in
longer-form content like articles and blog posts, and it seeks to
answer a question your potential customers may be having.

On the other hand, copywriting happens in a specific brand voice
you use when talking about your product and its benefit.

Target audience

Another big difference between copywriting and SEO writing is
the audience each kind of writing is aimed for. SEO writing is
mainly crafted for people who are at the top of the funnel—those
who are still investigating a certain problem.

But that is not to say it is only used there. It is also used at
every other level of the funnel to draw in people to your products
and services.

Copywriting, on the other hand, is mainly aimed at leads that
are already warm and are leaning towards buying or even ready to
buy. Good examples of such marketing collateral are landing pages
and sales pages/letters.

Copywriting and SEO Writing: Two sides of the same coin

One question some marketers ask is which of these two writing
disciplines they should use. The answer is both. That is, use both
where they are needed.

An effective marketing campaign needs both copywriting and SEO
writing in order for it to succeed. Like a bicycle, if one wheel is
missing, you won’t go very far.

Wrap up

Copywriting and SEO writing are two different disciplines that
are crucial to every business. A proper understanding of both will
help you, as a marketer, know how to plan and execute an effective

If you’ve gleaned some valuable information from this
post and want more, why not
check out this list of SEO strategies
—of course, not
forgetting about the rules of good copywriting—that you can apply
to your emails this year.

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Copywriting Vs. SEO Writing: What’s the Difference?
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Copywriting Vs. SEO Writing: What’s the Difference?