SEO copywriter meets designer – can we all play nicely?

  • “The relationship between SEO copywriter and web designer/developer should facilitate the very best possible results for the client” –
    me, just now

    As an SEO copywriter, I have the pleasure of working with some incredible web developers and designers. However, I believe that some vital communication is missing between these two different types of internet specialists, and ultimately, it’s the client that suffers. A lack of understanding between these parties can lead to an inferior end product for the client, so it’s important for both copywriter and designer to understand what each other needs to ensure that they can do their job properly, while simultaneously achieving the best end result.

    Being an SEO copywriter, it’s my job to create engaging, effective content that both helps to raise online visibility while also persuading visitors to make a purchase or buy into a particular service. For developers and designers, their job is to create beautiful and functional websites that are easy to navigate, on brand and engage the visitor on an aesthetic level. While both professionals focus on the job in hand, some important factors can be neglected, leading to issues from both a design and SEO perspective.

    SEO copywriting and web design – understanding the roles

    As a copywriter, I don’t pretend to know how web development and design works; my experience has given me a basic awareness, but obviously I don’t understand the finer details. This works the other way round too, with designers often having a lack of understanding when it comes to building a website to enable effective implementation of SEO.

    When it comes to SEO, points really do make prizes; when a website is indexed by the search crawlers, you effectively score ‘points’ according to the value of the white hat SEO techniques that have been adopted throughout the site. Conversely, anything that is seen as black hat (trying to trick the search engines), will result in penalisation, which could mean waving goodbye to a whole heap of points that the SEO copywriter has worked so hard to accumulate.

    SEO copywriters create content based on trusted techniques that have proven time and time again to help increase visibility and ranking positions in the SERPs. Some of the more basic rules are focused around meta data, H tags and a robust internal linking structure, using a variety of keywords as anchor text. However, when designers and developers work on additional aspects of a website, they often adopt techniques that go against ethical SEO. In my experience, the main offenders tend to be:

    * Using multiple H1 tags to ensure visual consistency
    * Using content management systems that automatically convert a main page          title into a meta title
    * Using a H1 tag for the banner logo at the top of the page
    * Placing the body content towards the end/bottom of the page

    The problems don’t stop there, but these are definitely the most common ones that I’ve come across.

    Using more than one H1 tag is viewed by the search crawlers as a black hat method, where they perceive this approach as nothing short of trickery – trying to convince them to rank certain keywords favourably, by stuffing them into elements of the page that are known to have a high SEO value. When it comes to using logos as the H1 tag, this creates a problem in that it offers no relevant information to the search crawlers, so you’re losing out on one of the first and most important elements of indexing. In respect to the third point, it’s important to be able to differentiate between the data used in the meta title, and that of the page’s main title – which should be a H1 tag.

    When it comes to content placement, one of the latest changes to Google’s SEO criteria means that you need to have a good amount of relevant content ‘above the fold’, to ensure that visitors can easily access the information they’re looking for – therefore, banners, logos and ads need to be kept fairly subtle, to ensure that the content isn’t the last thing the crawlers read when they visit the site for indexing.

    The correct implementation of onsite SEO

    When providing SEO copywriting on behalf of a mutual client, I’ve often come up against resistance from the web developer or designer in regards to these factors. However, if I’m to do my job properly, these crucial SEO elements need to be implemented correctly in order for me to get the best possible results. I’m not trying to be difficult or tell a developer how to do their job, but it seems clear that there needs to be more respect and understanding between these two very important aspects of website design and delivery.

    Of course, no business relationship is a one way street; I also appreciate that there are things that an SEO copywriter can do in order to help the designer with their side of the deal. SEO copywriters need to understand the visual aspect of website design; text should be broken into small, bite-size paragraphs where possible, to enable the designer to fit the content into the overall design of the site. With web pages now requiring at least 400 words in order to be indexed properly (a result of last year’s Panda update), it’s imperative that the copywriter can break this down into easy-to-use sections, which can be inserted into navigational boxes, sidebars, or any other number of wonderful design elements that can be utilised to create visually stunning websites that are functional and easy to navigate.

    Copywriter and developer working together – a formidable team!

    Essentially, both SEO copywriter and web designer or developer wants to provide the most effective website possible for their client; this provides them with the best results, while also giving both designer and copywriter another great project to add to their portfolio – plus inevitable recommendations and referrals that come from happy customers.

    So if you’re an SEO copywriter or a web designer, I implore you to make sure that you keep the lines of communication open with the other professionals that you’re working with. Speak to each other and understand each other’s needs, and remember that any requests from your colleagues or associates are not because they think they know your job better than you do – we’re all just trying to do the best that we can, and we should view each other as comrades, not competition! Designers need to try and create sites with a nod towards effective SEO, and SEO copywriters should create content that demonstrates an understanding of the challenges that their design associates face – that way, we can all play nicely together and deliver dazzling websites that fulfil their objectives.


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