Why do freelance writers hate SEO copywriting?

“SEO copywriting is low-paying, demeaning work”

“SEO copywriting is synonymous with unethical projects”

“[Much of this] SEO content is written by non-native speakers”

In the words of Liz Lemon from 30 Rock, “What the what?”

I was amazed – truly amazed – to read such angry posts in a LinkedIn group.  I knew SEO copy had a bad reputation in some circles. But I had no idea that some freelancers HATED the concept of SEO copy.

The sad thing is, their hatred is fueled by misconceptions. It’s true that spammy copy is out there. It’s true that some clients (still) insist on keyphrase-stuffed content (and will only pay $10 for 500 words.) And if you’re trolling Odesk or job boards for SEO copy gigs, well, you probably won’t find the cream of the money-making crop.

But here’s the thing: SEO content (how it’s supposed to be) is fantastic content. It was never – ever – supposed to be synonymous with spam. (For more information about this, please read my rant “SEO copywriting is dead. Long live SEO content writing“).

Here’s how I responded to the “I hate SEO copywriting” comments…

First, I totally understand the feeling that some folks have about SEO copy. Companies like Demand Media have cheapened the concept, and has given it a horrible reputation. It’s true that you’ll see ads promising writing $5 for writing 500 words – and those 500 words are mindless drivel, at best. It’s sad.

It sounds like what you call “SEO copy” is what I call “spammy copy.” *Real* SEO content writing – the type that Google likes (and doesn’t bounce out of its index) – isn’t like this. It’s always been about writing quality content for readers. Yes, you have to do certain things to help the page position in Google. At the same time, “certain things for Google” doesn’t mean copy that reads like, “Our cashmere sweaters are the best cashmere sweaters online. Buy our cashmere sweaters now for the best cashmere prices.”

Good SEO copy doesn’t read like this. It’s good copy first – and good for Google second.

I’ve been talking about SEO copy for 14 years – and I was a freelance copywriter before I entered the SEO space. It drives me NUTS when I see overly optimized copy. Or I hear about clients who will only pay 10/page and they want something that’s keyphrase stuffed.

Fortunately, Google is (slowly) bouncing those kinds of pages out of their index. The Panda update targeted thin, low-quality content – and sites like Demand really got hit. That was a huge wake up call for clients, SEO companies and writers. They were suddenly put on notice that bad content is…well…bad.

So please know that I’m with you when you talk about spammy copy. Also, please understand that there are many instances of really good SEO content – Brookstone’s site is a prime example. Companies of all sizes have benefitted from good SEO content – I’ve seen it increase conversion rates, drive more traffic and help companies make significantly more money.

And there are many (quality) writers who are able to attract good, high-paying gigs. If it was all 10/page jobs, I would have boogied out of the industry a long time ago. :)

So, please know that not all SEO content is bad or spammy or repetitive. There are some “good guys” in the industry, too. :)

I’d love to share some success stories with these folks – they’ve obviously only seen the “dark side” of SEO content. Let’s show them the light.

If you’re a business that has benefitted from SEO content, please tell us how you’ve benefitted. Did you make more money? Increase the number of leads coming to your site? How has SEO content helped you?

And if you’re a freelance SEO copywriter, I’d love to hear from you too! These folks need to know that it’s not all $10/page, offshore work. There are real writers making a real living as an SEO content writer.

C’mon guys. Let’s show the haters that SEO content (that is, GOOD SEO content) is a smart business move…

(And I’m looking forward to your comments – thanks!)