Are you a content strategist or an SEO copywriter?

There’s a hot discussion in the LinkedIn SEO Copywriting group. No, it’s not about keyphrase density or the ramifications of Google’s +1…

…It’s all about the difference (assuming there is one) between being a content strategist and an SEO copywriter.

It all started with this article by Doc Sheldon. Briefly, the article outlines the differences as:

SEO copywriter: The person who writes the copy. According to the post:

“First of all, they write not only for the reader, but for the search engines, as well. They have to be conversant in things like keyword density and placement, and in some cases, even have to do their own keyword research….They have to be able to understand at least the basics of the conversion funnel, in most cases, in order to couch the client’s presentation in such a way as to instill confidence in the readers, and help herd them through that funnel to a successful conversion.”

Content strategist: The person who plans the overarching strategy and editorial calendar.  Sheldon explains how the content strategist is the “hub” of the content creation process.

“He will often be one of the key contacts with the client, in order to get a deep-set grasp of the various aspects of their business, such as goals, problems, competition, strengths, weaknesses, audience and much more…He will usually have significant input into, if not control over, the overall content needs of the client.”

The post ends with an intriguing line:

“Although, many of the self-proclaimed SEO copywriters I know are actually content strategists. Maybe they just haven’t thought of it that way yet.”

Sounds nice…but one top direct response copywriting expert disagrees

Enter Bob Bly, direct response copywriting guru. His opinion? “Everything you describe (as a content strategist) I do as a copywriter.” His belief (and I agree with him) is that a copywriter’s main job is to make their client’s money. It’s one thing to know how to write. It’s another to know how to write in a way that makes people take action (for more about the difference between social media writing and SEO copywriting, check out this post.)

He went on to say:


Interesting point.

Here’s what I think…

I can see all sides here.  If you’re working one-on-one with clients, you probably are dealing with “content strategy” issues – you just may not call yourself a “content strategist.” :)

At the same time, there are SEO copywriters who never deal with strategy. A more experienced copywriter (content strategist?) sets the strategy and chooses the keyphrases – and the copywriter does the writing. For instance, new SEO copywriters may not be ready to set strategy quite yet.

Additionally, a content strategist may be looking at more than just Web copy. For instance, she may provide Twitter or Facebook recommendations – but not necessarily be the person penning the tweets. She may set a blog’s editorial calendar – but not be the primary blogger. And she may have high-level SEO knowledge that a conventional SEO copywriter may not have.

What say you? Is there a difference between being a SEO copywriter and a content strategist? If so, what’s the difference? Experience levels? The type of work being done? Or something else?

And while you’re pondering,  I’ll leave you with some wise words from Bob Bly:

“Until you have written a sales letter that generates a greater response rate for selling a product than the current sales letter for that product, you can’t call yourself a competent copywriter.”

Truer words were never typed. :)