What’s the difference between SEO content writing and SEO copywriting?

SEO content writing and SEO copywriting are different, and yet people are confused between the two. If one is writing to rank better on search engines, it should all come under the umbrella of SEO content writing. Wrong, there is, in fact, the existence of another category of writing called SEO copywriting. 

The confusion exists because people are unaware of the existence of the two, and we are here to get rid of the chaos. When a writer doesn’t know the difference between SEO content writing and SEO copywriting, they tend to take a job or onboard a client that expects the writer to help them with SEO copywriting when the writer’s skill set matches that of an SEO content writer. 

For example, you are a freelance SEO content writer, but the client you onboard expects you to work as an SEO copywriter. The problem arises that the client thinks that SEO copywriting and SEO content writing are the same, and thus he is looking for an SEO content writer. You don’t know the difference either and end up onboarding. What will follow is some of the most confusing and frustrating days for you and your client since your skills aren’t aligned with the work you need to do, and the client keeps asking for frequent changes because he is not clear about the expectations.

Thus, to set the record straight, let’s dive deep into SEO, SEO content writing, SEO copywriting, and the differences.

What is SEO (search engine optimisation)?

SEO, also known as, is optimising a website or a webpage such that when users are looking for the topic for the website, the website appears in their search results and garners web traffic. 

But who determines which web page is better than the other? The search engines (Google, Bing, Yahoo, etc.) do that using crawls and bots. These bots collect information about each web page and website and assess what it is trying to say. When it has gathered the data, it indexes. After indexing, the algorithm considers each page according to various factors and sees which one answers the user’s queries accurately. When you are running paid ads, you can spend more to rank higher than your competitors. However, SEO is entirely organic, aka unpaid, and thus you cannot boost your ranking on the search engines. 

However, you must remember that SEO efforts take time and quality content to show results, while on the other hand, paid ads take less time to show the intended results. SEO is thus a long-term strategy but one that is essential for every website. Without SEO, you cannot sustain your digital presence even with paid ads because sooner or later, you will run out of funds. It is great news for content writers and copywriters because it means that businesses need our services more than ever now.

And there’s not just one type of SEO either, and there are broadly four types of SEO:

  • On-page
  • Off-page
  • Technical
  • Local

What is SEO content writing?

Golden rule of SEO content writing:
Write for the end user, not a magic number of keywords.

SEO content writing is writing content so that it helps the page appear in search results when a user is searching for a related query or topic. For example, when a content writer writes content for a fintech company, they get a list of keywords to include in the content as per a desirable keyword density. Google and other search engines are far more advanced than a few years back when all you needed to do was insert the keyword in the content as many times as possible to rank higher.

Now, the search engines penalise excessive stuffing of keywords, and thus SEO content writers need to balance the density of the keywords along with naturally blending the keywords in the content to enhance the user experience. More than keywords or any other factor, search engines prioritise user experience, and thus, successful SEO content writers know how to balance the search engines requirements and the user’s experience while reading their content.

Under SEO content writing, there are various types of content:

  • Product pages
  • Blog pages
  • Articles
  • Listicles
  • Guides
  • Infographics
  • Slideshows
  • Glossaries
  • Directories

The above content is used for on-page and off-page SEO; the former goes on the main website of a business or a brand, and the latter is used to build backlinks via guest posting. Both content pieces are essential and boost the SEO rank of the website. If you are searching for an in-depth article on how to write content for SEO, check our 10 Amazing Tips That Help SEO Content Writers.

What is SEO copywriting?

We know that copywriting is used to persuade readers to take action. And we also know that people produce SEO content to attract website visitors; thus, the company wants people to take action, aka click on their content and read it. Moreover, when improving your website’s SEO, bounce rate is a metric you track diligently. Thus, a website wants a high CTR (click-through rate) and high retention of a user. Apart from these two factors, the company would place a call to action at the end of the content piece and wants the user to take action.

An SEO copywriter thus crafts and improves the content to improve the CTR, increase retention, and persuade the reader to act on the call to action. The SEO copywriter can either write the content from scratch or improve upon an already written content piece. They use copywriting formulas to hold the attention and move the reader to action. 

The different types of copies an SEO copywriter writes are:

  • Meta descriptions
  • Titles of the content (blog, article, listicles, etc.)
  • Call to action
  • Bridges between different parts of the overall content

Now that we have the context of both SEO content writing and SEO copywriting let’s dive into the differences between content writing and copywriting.

Differences between SEO content writing and SEO copywriting

Difference #1 Purpose

Perhaps the most significant difference between SEO content writing and SEO copywriting is the purpose for both of them. While SEO content writing aims to deliver valuable information to the user in a structured and concise way through in-depth research, SEO copywriting, on the other hand, seeks to attract clicks from people through meta descriptions and titles. Moreover, SEO copywriters may also enhance the content to increase audience retention and decrease bounce rate. 

Thus, an SEO content writer focuses on delivering valuable content, whereas an SEO copywriter focuses on enhancing the customer/reader experience.

Difference #2 the difference in the content

The second difference is obvious, but so many people confuse the two. Some clients look to their SEO content writers to write their titles and meta descriptions, and some may even have the expertise to write them. However, an SEO copywriter is more suited for the job and should be hired instead. As we discussed in the above section, an SEO copywriter has the right skill set for writing titles and meta descriptions compared to a content writer.

Difference #3 Skills required

Whether it is a digital marketer, copywriter, content writer or SEO expert, everybody has a specific set of skills that differ from one another. Just because SEO content writers and SEO copywriters have a common skill, such as the knowledge of search engine optimisation, doesn’t mean that they have the same skill set.

Thus, an SEO content writer has the following skills:

  • The skill to research unknown topics in-depth.
  • The skill to write sentences with the correct grammar.
  • The skill to write plagiarism free content.

While SEO copywriters have the following skills:

  • Understanding of human behaviour
  • The knowledge of writing click-worthy titles and content
  • Creativity
  • Copywriting skills

Difference #4 Length

Another notable difference between the two is the length of the content of a content writer and a copywriter. While the former write long-form content, the latter writes short-form content. And the length is crucial due to SEO. Most blogs, articles, listicles, etc., are long-form since it delivers more value comprehensively in one place. On the other hand, titles, meta descriptions, and CTAs are short due to limitations by search engines. 

For example, usually, blogs are 1000+ words since they are trying to answer every aspect of a user’s query to appeal to users and rank better. However, the copywriters only have a few characters to write the title and meta description to not only communicate the topic of the content but also to persuade the user to click.

Difference #5 Income

There are no industry standards for both jobs because there is an overall confusion regarding the job of an SEO copywriter, and many are gig workers or freelancers, and thus there are no standard rates. However, if we look at the time and the money one can earn, SEO copywriters would earn more because they can charge higher prices than content writers. 

However, if one chooses to deliver both services, they have the potential to charge higher since they are offering not only well-researched search engine optimised content but also writing click-worthy titles and meta descriptions. 

Difference #6 Result

The results expected from both are different since their purposes are different. While an SEO content writer’s content’s result is to deliver grammatically correct, avoid plagiarism as well cover every aspect of the topic, an SEO copywriter’s copy’s result is to drive the CTR and retention rate higher while decreasing the bounce rate while also persuading the person to take action after reading the content.

Thus, while you are pitching your services as an SEO content writer, you can promise to deliver 100% original grammatically correct content (you can use tools like Quetext and Grammarly). Additionally, you can assure your clients that the blog will cover every aspect of the topic, and you will not exceed or write less than the given word limit.

When you pitch your services as an SEO copywriter, you can show your clients your results with your previous clients and how your services change their CTR and bounce rate through your services. You can also use your website’s proof and show them that you can deliver on your word.

Difference #7 Popularity

Many reading the blog may not even be familiar with SEO copywriting, while many are familiar with SEO content writing. The former is still in the shadows with undefined boundaries, while the latter is widely accepted and one of the most in-demand skills currently, thanks to the success of content marketing. 

Moreover, due to confusion between SEO copywriting and copywriting, people often get muddled up between both. Thus, SEO content writing is famous as well as competitive compared to SEO copywriting.

Difference #8 Role of storytelling

It may seem like a minute factor, but storytelling is everything, whether writing content or copy. However, as an SEO copywriter, you will hardly need the skill of storytelling due to the limitation of characters. When you are sprucing up a piece of content to increase retention, you need to just add conversational phrases; thus, the need for storytelling is also minimal. 

Thus, the role of storytelling is more for SEO content writers than SEO copywriters.

Difference #9 Barrier to entry

The barrier to entry for both the jobs is comparatively low given that one doesn’t need a degree to become a content writer and copywriter; however, a copywriter is hired to show results while a content writer is hired to write in a way that suits the brand’s messaging and tonality. Thus, the former has a more challenging time acquiring clients while the latter can start pretty soon. 

The barrier to entry for content writers compared to SEO copywriters is low, so the competition is more. But, one can quickly upskill or integrate SEO copywriting to stand apart from the crowd. Alternatively, an SEO copywriter can also acquire writing skills to write long-form and integrate it to charge higher and get more clients.

How to become an SEO content writer?

An SEO content writer may sound like an easy job, but it takes perseverance and grit to write for a long time. Moreover, you will also need to keep upskilling yourself and familiarising yourself with the SEO updates to make changes when writing content for your clients accordingly.

As discussed, the barrier to entry is low for SEO content writers, and thus you can opt for courses online to learn the basics of writing. If you are looking for free courses, here is the list of five such courses. Some of them talk just about writing, while others explore SEO too; thus, you can find many great resources. If you want something more than a free course and want to invest in a paid course to sharpen just your writing skills, you can check out Shani Raja’s course. We have a review of the course, too, so you can see if it’s a fit for you or not.

If you want to skip taking courses and just want a blog that has tips to help you write better for SEO, we have got you covered; here is our blog on tips for writing for SEO.

Last but not least, you may need to find clients too because eventually, you want to start earning money from this skill. So here’s our blog on how to get content writing clients using social media.

How to become an SEO copywriter?

An SEO copywriter is the make or breaks for any piece of content on the internet. Soon users may use just voice searches, which means if the content is not number 1 on the search query page, the brand is out of the game. Thus, as an SEO copywriter, it is your duty to write mind-blowing, relevant, and click-worthy (different from clickbaity, because clickbait may get the user to click, but as soon as they find out that they have been hoodwinked, they will bounce out, increasing your bounce rate which is not a good sign for search engines) titles. 

Moreover, the meta description is a deciding factor for many people to click and read more or not. Many use meta descriptions to see whether the information they are looking for is in the blog or not. Thus, as a copywriter, you need to figure out the answer to their query and succinctly write it in your meta description.

You can use online courses; there are plenty on the internet to acquire the skill of copywriting and understanding SEO. There are also courses that teach SEO copywriting (hosted by Yoast), but they are costly, so if you have the resources to invest in expensive courses, you can go ahead and do that. However, if you do not have the resources, there are free courses available; you can check our blog to find copywriting and SEO courses available for free.

As for your portfolio, you can start working on a website of your own to apply what you learned and tweak it when something is not working. So, your results will help you capture your following clients, and from then on, you can start gathering more experience and on-ground knowledge to pitch to bigger clients. Eventually, you will be earning six figures (don’t forget about us when you are a hot-shot SEO copywriter).


To sum up, we talked about SEO and how search engines work. Further, we discussed SEO content writing and SEO copywriting separately and talked about the skills one needs to become either one. Next, we discussed nine distinct differences between them, clearly stating that they are, in fact, different even though they are both a form of SEO writing. Lastly, we discussed how you could become an SEO content writer and SEO copywriter. We hope that the blog helped you discern the difference and cleared every doubt you had before you read the blog.

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