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Copywriting makeover: Search engine-friendly can also mean visitor-friendly
by Karon Thackston © 2005
When it comes to search engine optimization, copywriting plays a big role. You want to have excellent copy that appeals to both your visitors and the engines in order to create pages that will rank highly. However, sometimes there can be potential problems with fitting copy into certain types of sites. Due to space constraints, page layout requirements or other issues, some site owners hesitate to include SEO copy thinking it will detract from the visitor's experience. It won't if you do it right!
Gigmasters.com is a database site that allows visitors to search for any number of entertainment options then book them directly from the site. They segmented their target audience by the events visitors would book entertainment for (i.e., wedding entertainment, birthday party entertainment, etc.) Pages were then created for each entertainment type.
Gigmasters.com wasn't ranking highly for its keyphrases on a number of pages. In fact, for the page we're focusing on in this article (see the original copy here: http://www.copywritingcourse.com/gigmasters-original-wedding.pdf), Gigmasters.com wasn't ranking in the top 50.
The page desperately needed more copy. The concern was that visitors would be distracted by the addition of more text. After all, customers who come to a site to book entertainment are going to focus on the information in each performer's bio… not the copy on the category page, right? As we found out, this was not at all true.
In addition to quantity (word count), the page also needed quality. The one paragraph of copy that was on the page was rough and sounded awkward.
Writing copy that appeals to the site visitors and the search engines should be the goal of every SEO copywriter. You never want to sacrifice one for the other. However, I knew that adding a long block of copy right in the middle of the page would not be using good judgment. Good thing nobody ever said all your copy had to be in one place!
By breaking the copy up and adding short blips under each section of the page, we were able to include enough text to support the chosen keyphrases. At the same time, we were able to help visitors make the best choices for their wedding entertainment.
For this particular page, the target customer was someone in need of wedding entertainment. The visitor might be a bride or the mother of a bride looking for a wedding band (a wedding music band, that is), a DJ or some other form of wedding reception music. Most often the site visitor was a bride, however.
I never want to include copy strictly for SEO purposes if possible. The copy should always have a dual purpose: to help the visitor and to boost rankings. To accomplish this with Gigmasters.com, the introductory paragraph of copy spoke directly to the bride-to-be. It gave her the feeling that Gigmasters.com understood how important the music for her wedding and reception are.
Under each music classification, the bride was given ideas or suggestions. Statements like, "The gentle melodies played by a harpist or flutist during the prelude to your ceremony can add an air of distinction" and " Do you want your guests to dance? Consider a Latin band or swing band to pick up the beat" prompted visitors to think through their selections and evaluate all their options before deciding.
Each section of copy used at least one primary keyphrase to boost support of those terms with the engines. The copy was carefully written so as not to sound forced or stiff when including search terms.
You can view the updated copy here: http://www.copywritingcourse.com/gigmasters-updated-wedding.pdf. What happened after the changes? Within just a few weeks the page began to rise in rankings dramatically! Currently, the page has great rankings with various engines for various keyphrases - several in the top 10 with Google and Yahoo.
And conversions? They are holding steady if not increased some according to site partner Kevin Kinyon, further proving that search engine copywriting can be helpful to real people, too.