An SEO Copywriter Walks Into a Pub...

If a copywriter walks into a bar, he doesn’t want a plastic glass…

An SEO copywriter walks into a pub, bar, public house, venue, beer, lager, wine, spirits, cocktails, pub food, gastropub, happy hour…

And how we laugh. Still. Every time this tired old joke wheezes its way around Twitter, we all drop to the ground, rolling about in paroxysms of laughter, attempting to hold in our ruptured and leaking sides.

Or not. Because that joke isn’t funny anymore.

Forgive me for indulging my curmudgeonly side for once (who’s kidding, you love it), but I’m sick to the back teeth of the truism that states all an SEO copywriter does is wedge as many synonyms as possible into a piece in order to attract attention from the search engines.

It’s absolute, complete and utter bollocks.

An SEO Copywriter is Still a Copywriter

A copywriter’s job, regardless of prefix, is to influence the reader. To persuade them to take a particular action. Doing that requires skill, finesse, and usually a degree of subtlety.

And that means that the copywriter has to focus on choosing the right words and phrases. The ones that appeal to a human reader, not a search engine. Cack-handedly shoving in as many synonyms as the Thesaurus lists isn’t a way to appeal to anyone.

So why does the myth of the SEO copywriter as a slave to the search engine algorithm persist? Is it because nobody’s quite sure what an SEO copywriter does? Because too many content farms market their bargain-bucket fare as SEO copy?

Whatever the reason, the myth is just that. A writer who puts the needs of the search engines ahead of the needs of the reader isn’t an SEO copywriter. They’re a fool.

And if they’re a keyword-stuffer, they’re a fool twice over.

If Your SEO Copywriter is Trying to Keyword Stuff, Shoot Him

Shooting them might sound harsh, but the only alternative is firing them. And if you do that, they might well come back.

And if they come back, your site’s going nowhere on the search engines because keyword stuffing doesn’t work.

Not only is it pointless now, but it’s been largely pointless through the whole of this nascent decade, and a fair chunk of the last one. So any “SEO” who’s noticeably filling your pages with synonymous guff isn’t doing a very good job.

In fact, they’re doing a terrible job, because creating pages with ridiculous, useless content is a great way to have your site disregarded by users and crawlers alike.

So if the synonyms are out, the SEO copywriter doesn’t walk into a pub, bar, gastropub, hostelry, drinking house, boozer… They do what everyone else does. They just walk into a bar.

And if the digital copywriters I’ve met are anything to go by, when a writer walks into a bar, it’s to buy a rather large scotch.

If you’re in need of an experienced SEO copywriter who doesn’t go in for keyword stuffing, make sure you contact me. You’ll be delighted with the results.


14 Comments comments for "An SEO Copywriter Walks Into a Pub…"

  1. Ben Locker at 9:06 am

    I would buy a rather large Scotch. And because I care about my readers, I’d buy them one too. And if Mr Search Engine dropped by and took a photo of us, and then decided to hang it on his wall – well, that’s a Scotch that’s well worth having.

  2. Tom Albrighton at 9:20 am

    I dunno what it is about SEO, but certain aspects of it have just lodged in people’s minds and seemingly will never come out. I know all aspects of marketing have this problem with ‘a little knowledge’, not to mention buying a dog and barking yourself, but SEO seems to get it really bad. Maybe it’s because people are daunted by its technicality and grab onto certainties. Problem is, they’re not – or they’re not any more.

    Only this week I have had to dissuade someone from using concealed text and trying to optimise for a competitor’s name. These 2003-vintage techniques have just passed into folklore for some reason. Ill-informed ‘experts’ probably don’t help, but I think most of the problem is down to amateurism and underestimating both Google and the skills required to make search work.

    Rather than obsessing over particular tactics, it would be really good if people learnt these three things and left it at that: 1. Gaming Google doesn’t work. 2. Human value first. 3. Things change fast.

    Everything else you should leave to the experts. Alternatively, buy a book and learn SEO for real.

    • Andrew at 9:25 am

      I wouldn’t even risk buying a book. We’re getting significant updates on a regular basis – so your book’s not going to stay relevant very long.

      Subscriptions to SEOMoz and Search Engine Land are probably a safer bet.

  3. Eugene at 10:21 am

    A rather large Scotch for me, too, pls. Let’s have a round with our readers and the curious Mr. Search Engine as well:)

    @Andrew “Subscriptions to SEOMoz and Search Engine Land are probably a safer bet.” Thumbs up!

    Happy Friday day to everyone!

  4. Mike Robinson at 7:13 pm

    I agree with Tom – why would you try to game Google when they’re trying to give their user the best experience? Just give your reader the best, most relevant experience and you’ll do well.

  5. Judith at 3:46 pm

    What’s the use in having all those keywords when people can’t even understand what you’re trying to say? I worked with an online service directory where we had to delete user generated service descriptions that had nothing on them but the same words copy and pasted over and over (I guess until they reached the thousandth word). That was no fun at all. Imagine what a turn off that was for people hoping to find reliable local service.

  6. Richard Frost at 9:21 pm

    Good point, well made. Keyword stuffing doesn’t work and hasn’t worked for the best part of a decade.

    Incidentally, I’ve been doing SEO copywriting since 2006 and I’m pretty sure that joke was already well established back then. The old ones are the best, eh?

  7. Steven Evans at 5:06 pm

    I can see it the other way around though. I recently went to a job interview for an in-house SEO Copywriter role, and the interviewer didn’t really know anything about SEO. He was interviewing for an advertising copywriter essentially, and was almost disgusted that I’d write tonnes of articles (even though naturally they were all great) to market my sites. Quantity and quality are both important I reckon, I’ve read Ulysses and it’s massive, still genius but massive. Nice Joke by the way 🙂

  8. Nina Greaves at 8:28 am

    Very annoyed I’ve not heard this joke before! Made me giggle. Great piece followed by some home truths that is difficult to get clients to understand .. found one client sneakily behind my back using invisible text at the bottom of his home page and took great offence when I instructed him to remove it *rolls eyes* honestly….

  9. Terence at 8:54 pm

    Why can’t it just be “bollocks”?

    Why do we have to have “absolute, complete and utter” as a well?

    All in the name of influencing the reader, I take it.

  10. Jason at 3:30 am

    Love this joke and I remember seeing it for the first time around the millennium doom time lol. Andrew states he’s dismayed but we’re all commenting because either A) A % hope they will create a link, no-follow or do-follow or B) They simply love the subject of Seo C) They needed an Seo joke for a Consultation with a group of Web Designers who simply hate Seo Specialists like myself 😉 Thanks for sharing

  11. Andrew Harkin at 9:33 am

    Personally I think Google has finally got the algorithms right, just about. The objective is to write for our clients’ reader/potential client i.e a fellow human being.

    Humans – that’s you & I – search for stuff that interests us, using language that we would use, mostly in the vernacular. The first rule of copywriting is to ‘know thy client’ and then write an ad or sales letter or web page that he or she feels is written to them ‘personally’ so why on earth would you then proceed to write a piece crammed full of ‘keywords’ and synonyms?

    The second rule of copywriting is to ‘write like you speak’ while taking into account your reader/potential client etc..

    Humans invented the web, humans read the stuff on the web, so it’s about time we wrote for humans, specifically the ones we want as clients or readers.

    Anyone still cramming their copy with keywords and phrases and taking note of ‘density’ is missing the whole point and doesn’t deserve to get work quite frankly, and probably isn’t.

    Ah..time for my medication…

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