I’m trying an experiment over the next few weeks and it’s this: can I boost my search results for the phrase ‘UK copywriter’ using content alone?

Some of you may already be thinking that I’ve started this experiment the wrong way. I’ve fallen into a trap I warn my clients against – getting suckered into thinking that position on search engines is the be all and end all of internet marketing. After all, I’m not just an SEO copywriter but a copywriter who consults on content strategy and online marketing.

But before I go into that, let me share a result:

Two blogs in and already I’ve jumped three places for “UK copywriter

Where I’m at: November 22nd 2010

Search positions:

– Current position for UK copywriter on Google.co.uk – 8 – up 3 places

– Current position on UK copywriter on Google.com – 15 – no change

Activity:

·3 x blog posts + Twitterfeed

·Removed two links from my home page

·One Tweet listed below

In my rush to celebrate I posted the following on Twitter:

My UK #copywriter experiment seems to be working – jumped three places from 11 to 8. Will it affect my traffic though? 

One of my freelance copywriters, Martin Williams at http://www.ukcopywriting.com/, came back to me with the following:

martinjwilliams – ‘Will it affect my traffic though?’ Nah.

Martin’s in a pretty good place to comment. He already ranks really well for both “UK copywriter” and “UK copywriting” (his URL is probably a powerful factor in that, although we’ll look at that in later posts).

Interestingly, while BigStarContent is now three places ahead of UK Copywriting (not that it’s a competition between us) he’s on the first page of Google.com for the phrase “UK copywriter” ahead of BigStarContent. So whatever I’m doing it’s not working as well for Google.com as it is for Google.co.uk. Again, we could surmise that the .com address may be a significant factor in this or it could be other SEO activity Martin’s involved in.

Martin’s point though is, I think, that ranking highly for the phrases “UK copywriter” or “UK copywriting” alone isn’t going to make a significant difference to either of us and my Top Of The Pops style pursuit of top rankings for a single phrase isn’t going to get me sales.

That said, if we were both ranking highly for the phrase “copywriter” we could probably expect a great deal more traffic – Google’s Keyword tool gives us a 1600 local monthly searches for UK copywriter, compared to 33,100 for copywriter.

Whether or not this would then mean extra business is a topic for further discussion but Martin’s point leads me on to an interesting question: is SEO actually that effective for either of us, compared to other methods of marketing?

Is SEO right for you?

Going back to the opening paragraph, these posts automatically suppose that SEO is a good approach for my business – it’s a supposition I’ve had since I started marketing my copywriting services online five years ago and has been borne out by an apparent correlation between search rankings and enquiries but recently I’ve been wondering whether it would actually be more effective to cold call relevant businesses, email them direct, join networking groups or use other forms of direct contact.

I don’t want to be disingenuous – these blogs and this thread of content are after all a device, seeking to attain better search rankings, opening a dialogue with others and let’s be honest selling my services as a UK copywriter – so I’m not going to suggest I’m naïve as to how I’m approaching this.

However, my main objective is to examine some of the issues that concern me as a copywriter and how we work with our clients, and one of the main assumptions I want to tackle is that SEO is just one marketing strategy – it’s not the be all and end all.

My feeling is that, for some companies, particularly those who are trying to drive down the cost of content (see interesting article from ABC Copywriting here), the desire to achieve higher search engine rankings often obscures important considerations such as what do you do with search engine traffic once it’s on your site and even more fundamental questions such as is SEO as a strategy even worth the effort?

You may not think that advising on whether or not to pursue an SEO strategy is a copywriter’s job – I think it is. Copywriting is a major consideration in SEO, and vice versa. A good copywriter should be able to avoid assumptions and take you back to fundamental questions about your business objectives before you start working on your business communications.

One of those questions should be to ask whether SEO is going to be effective for you and to weigh up the advantages and disadvantages of SEO – more on that in my next post.

What do you think? Does SEO work for every online business? Should SEO be a primary marketing strategy for new web businesses? Should copywriters even be getting involved with SEO?

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