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SEO As a Copywriting Tool

In the old days – 24 months ago – copywriters never heard of SEO and bridled at the thought of being told where or how to start the creative process. Today, according to Bryan Cummings of The Garrigan Lyman Group, writing in Adweek,

“For creatives, SEO is like handing a composer the most popular notes, as identified by research, and demanding a hit song. Or giving a writer word magnets from the refrigerator and expecting the Great American Novel.”

And while Bryan offers tips to help writers square up contemporary language and creativity with search imperatives, he overstates the case.

Effective key words and phrases can be creative cues for other forms of branded customer engaging messaging. But too few creatives mine the insights from SEO analytics.

Maybe its because SEO is considered to be an arcane art like alchemy or maybe because the data-centric nature of SEO puts off copywriters, but there is little connection between these two; which to my way of thinking, is missed cue and waste of resources. It seems to me that effective key words or phrases -- defined as those words and combinations of words that prompt significant clicks -- are proven indicators of rational or emotional brand or behavioral triggers.

Something about these words or phrases instantly communicates a brand value or a proposition that searchers understand, believe and are willing to click on. What better cue about how to craft messages that will resonate with target audiences. And while two-to-five words do not an ad or an e-mail or a sell sheet make, there is an explicit direction to be discerned.

Writing effective key words is like origami. You have to twist, turn, fold and re-fold your ideas, expectations and standard copy points in unusual and sometimes surprising or convoluted ways to create a short pithy and motivating message that strikes a chord with searchers. The task is daunting. The writer is trying to psyche out potentially millions of searchers coming at an information problem or a question from an infinite number of perspectives with an infinite number of expectations, points of view and search habits. So when you craft a phrase that attracts a significant amount of traffic, its a fair bet that something in the choice of words and/or the sequence of words creates a meaning, an understanding or an answer that speaks to potential customers. Is anybody willing to ignore this ind of intelligence?

I'm advising everyone I work with to mine keyword successes and draft contextual language and proof points around them to build compelling marketing communications assets for use on-line and offline. I'm also insisting that we export the test-and-learn sensibility and discipline from the SEO world into the creative and design process.

Helping dominant brands extend their share and grow customer loyalty and helping insurgent and start-up brands capture attention, awareness and market share. Danny Flamberg has been building brands and building businesses for more than 25 years. He...

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