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What’s the Difference Between SEO and Copywriting?

Venn diagram SEO vs Copywriting

Content marketing has been around for a long, long time – some even trace it as far back as cave paintings. While content marketing has evolved, the idea remains unchanged: to create content designed to attract a select group of people to act a certain way. It could be selling a product or service or, in the case of our cavemen friends, joining a tribe or leaving behind an offering.

Cavemen Content Marketing
Image of Cro-Magnon artists painting in Font-de-Gaume, France, by Charles R. Knight

Fast forward to today, these tribes have morphed into companies, their tools have been traded for keyboards, and cave walls are now sophisticated screens. As a marketer or entrepreneur, you have no choice but to battle for ranking supremacy on Google, Bing, and Yahoo search results. You’ll have to comb the web for the most effective set of keywords to reach, engage, and hopefully convert leads into clients – that said, content marketing is essential to your business.

No matter the size of your company, a successful content marketing campaign relies on an efficient writing strategy. So, understanding the difference between SEO writing and copywriting is essential to know which one you should use depending on your marketing goals.

In this article, we’ll look at the differences and similarities between the two and see how they should be used to grow your business. Let’s dive in!

What is SEO?

Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is centered on driving organic traffic through search engine results pages (SERPs). SEO specialists use various techniques to help your site rank higher on Google and Bing, giving your brand the visibility it needs to succeed. To improve your search engine visibility, SEO specialists will:

  • Research keywords
  • Suggest blog post topics
  • Identify content opportunities
  • Build links (also called backlinking)
  • Track performance of your site
  • Analyze ways to improve site visibility

Above are but a few tasks that an SEO specialist performs to help your website’s visibility.

Why is SEO Important?

You may offer the best services, but if no one hears about them, your chances of selling them are slim to none. One of the easiest ways to promote your brand is to rank on the first page of Google’s search results. While it might have been simple to rank well two decades ago, today, the battle to the top is fiercer. That’s why SEO has become so crucial for businesses.

What is Copywriting?

Copywriting is the art of persuasive writing – its primary goal is to convert traffic into actions. These actions may include making a purchase, subscribing to a newsletter, donating, or following a page or channel. Copywriters must think like the consumer, understand their pain points, and address them in a language that will appeal to them. A copywriter can help your business with:

  • Email campaigns
  • Landing pages
  • Website pages
  • Blog posts
  • Video transcripts
  • Print ads
  • Product descriptions
  • Social media posts

Copywriters help you develop your brand’s voice. Their words can educate, inspire, move, and persuade your readers. 

Why is Copywriting Important?

Copywriting is about selling. Your copy, in most cases, is the element that will finalize your sale, no matter where your customer is on their buyer’s journey. Compelling copy makes it hard for people to pass up your advertisement, website, newsletter, email, etc. So, to sell your products or services, you need to write enticing copy that will guide your readers’ behavior. 

Are the Two Compatible?

Imagine yourself driving down the interstate. In the distance, you see a billboard. That billboard is enormous, yet you’re too far away to read what it says. As you get closer, you’re able to see an image, a little closer, you can make out some words, and finally, once you’re close enough, you’re able to see the entire advertisement.

The Road to Success

SEO is the vehicle that drives you closer to the ad while copywriting is the text that entices you to act upon it. That said, SEO and copywriting should be used together for the best possible results.

Which One Is More Important?

This is a difficult question to answer. For apparent reasons, copywriters would favor copywriting, and SEO guys would prefer SEO. In a perfect world, you would hire a copywriter and SEO specialist.

Copywriting over SEO?
Image by WIRL Project.

But if you’re working on a tight budget and must pick one or the other, you should look at it from this perspective: you can drive traffic to your website with SEO, but traffic doesn’t guarantee success. If your copy isn’t optimized to convert your traffic into customers, your traffic will be convinced by a competing brand.

Who Should You Hire?

It may be wise to start with solid copywriting, and once you’re happy with your copy, you can call in an SEO specialist to improve your search visibility.

Handshake at the Office
Photo by olia danilevich from Pexels

Remember that you want to hire an expert in a specific field. While many SEO specialists understand the concept of copywriting, they may lack specific skills that could cost you dearly. The same can be said with copywriters who claim to have a handle on SEO practices.

Both fields are broad, so being an expert in either one is no walk in the park. Choose your freelancers carefully, beware of “jack-of-all-trade marketers” and look for experts who are dedicated to one field.


SEO writing and copywriting are closely linked. To draw a line between the two, you must look at what both writing styles respectively accomplish. SEO is used to bring your brand to the top of search results pages while copywriting closes the sell with persuasive writing.

Copywriting focuses on moving people a certain way; SEO specialists want to appeal to Google’s algorithm. Both fields are essential to drive traffic and convert it into paying customers. In short, for your business to succeed, you’ll need to optimize your copy and SEO strategy.

Do you need help with your copy? I’M HERE TO HELP.