There’s an ongoing debate between traditional direct response copywriters and the new breed of online copywriters about the importance of SEO (search engine optimization).
In a DM News article, Bob Bly writes about why he doesn’t believe in SEO copywriting. His point is simply that good copywriting should come first and that thinking about keywords is secondary, if you think about them at all. He says “forget the search engines” and “never change a word of strong selling copy.”
Then you have, well, just about everyone on the Internet, who say that SEO is the only way to go. Aaron Wall, for example, is the author of SEO Book and maintains that choosing the right keywords and using them in the right way can rocket you to the top of the search results and boost your traffic and sales.
This debate is like the direct marketing versus mass marketing debate. It’s two groups of people, each with a different marketing model, trying to lay claim to the ultimate truth.
The traditional direct response guys generally use direct mail or e-mail marketing to drive people to their sites, so they don’t care as much about search engine results. The SEO guys generally use keyword tactics to pull people into their sites, so they care very much about search engine results.
The two are not incompatible. In fact, they can be complementary. It’s just that each has chosen a different way to create traffic.
My view? Why not use both? Does it matter HOW you get results? Smart marketers use any and every tactic that works. Besides, if you really understand SEO copywriting, it’s really about understanding what people are looking for and using the right words to connect to them. Isn’t that what good direct response copywriting is supposed to do?