While a handful of speakers at SES Chicago emphasized the importance of keyword placement in pages, a copywriter thinks it's the wrong approach.
Copywriter Bob Bly suggested writing for search engine optimization means weakening the copy's ability to sell. "You need to have a single core audience in mind and concentrate all your effort on writing to that one audience.," he wrote.
From Bly's perspective, SEO can be accomplished, but not at the expense of writing the strongest copy possible. Keywords should be placed in the copy, and experiments with word changes can take place.
"Never change a word of strong selling copy if that change will make it even one iota weaker, even if SEO best practices would endorse that change," Bly cautioned.
Other copywriters Bly cited have similar viewpoints about SEO versus strong copywriting. Gary Bencivenga called SEO a "mechanical rabbit I'll never be able to catch." He noted that search engines continually make changes to "thwart those who try to 'fix the race'." Another copywriting notable, Parris Lampropoulos, told Bly he doesn't concern himself at all with SEO when writing Web copy.
Does optimizing copy for search engines work, though? Agora Publishing copywriter John Ford commented in the article that it can work:
Marketing writer Dianna Huff said in the report: " There is no point in writing good copy on your site if no one can find you." And Don Marti commented how inbound links and page structure are more important than just copy."It's certainly true that you can kick your ranking up in the Google search by focusing on the right keywords and looking at lists of keyword usage," he said. "It's amazing, actually, how easily this can be done. And shocking, I think, that some people get paid quite a bit of money to do only this."
Essentially, it seems sites that want to rank high while providing the maximum relevance and benefit to their visitors need to strike a balance between solid copywriting and SEO. While strong copy reads better than a page full of weakly-connected keywords, the need for businesses to be listed high in search rankings like Google's can't be ignored.