Creative Scriptwriting and Copywriting

Bah! Humbug!

In copywriting, search engine optimization (SEO), writing on December 14, 2009 at 12:42 am

Jim Carey - kind of - in A Christmas Carol

I’m lucky. My job lets me play with words and language in all kinds of situations and all kinds of voices. I write scripts and I write copy. I write comedy and drama. I even wrote a BBC TV series for teenagers learning German. In German. And I don’t speak German.

But even for a freelance writer who prides himself on being flexible and practical, there’s nothing that deadens the heart more than being asked in a meeting what I know about Search Engine Optimization (SEO). It’s not the writer’s distaste for an unfriendly acronym, or the American “z” spelling. After all, any decent copywriter could come up with a better phrase that describes the search optimisation process in more human terms. (Search-flirting. Google Tease. Something like that.)

No, what grates is the fact that SEO copy is writing that’s designed to be read not by humans, but by computer algorithms. (Or, as we used to call them, robots.) Search Engine Optimization involves writing words that will appeal to search engines like Google and Bing, which makes it invaluable when you’re trying to appear as high as possible in a Google result, but makes it unreadable when you finally click through to the page.

Good writing engages you.

It might be simple and practical, stripped clean of fancy and redundancy to give you precisely what you want to know. It might be poetic and emotional, designed to connect with a memory or a dream. Either way, it communicates with you as a living breathing individual human person, with your own likes and tastes and haircut.

The text that Google likes best is clunky, repetitive and dead. If you run a business, having your homepage Search Engine Optimized can be like having your reception staffed by a CGI motion-captured 3D animation (that’s Jim Carey up there, apparently). Creepy.

Click on an SEO expert like Bruce Clay to see what I mean. As I say, I love reading, and I love words but even I can’t be arsed to plough through all that lot. Can you?

OK, I guess “Bruce” is really good at his job because his is, by all accounts, the No 1 most effective Search Engine Optimized Search Engine Optimization site.

But, come on. AAA111 Taxis might be first in the phone book, but if they turn up with a rusty Vauxhall Vectra and a serial killer smile, you’re better off walking.

So yes, to answer the question, I can write copy that‘s Search Engine Optimized. But no, I am not an expert in it, because I’m not a robot, I’m a writer.

(And, by the way, have I told you how much I like your hair like that?)

  1. Very informative post. Thank you. Keep em coming!

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