Review of Successful Search Engine Copywriting by Heather Lloyd-Martin

Heather Lloyd Martin is a well known SEO copywriter. I have been meaning to read her Successful Search Engine Copywriting ebook for a while and finally did. On to the review... Things I liked about Successful Search Engine Copywriting:

  • Focuses on writing for humans instead of writing exclusively for bots.

  • Focuses on importance of keyword phrases over words, citing resources which show that most search queries are longer and more specific, and going through examples showing why those types of queries convert better.
  • Quotes Greg Boser a good number of times on competitive analysis. As always his answers are insightful & suscinct.
  • States importance of building credibility with content.
  • Covers the page title tag and meta description in depth.
  • Offers good tips on helping marketing, IT, & legal departments play well together. Answers many common what if conflict problems you can have working with a company.
  • Gives many tips on hiring and working with an SEO copywriter.
  • Covers XML data feeds in depth, including who they are best for and when to use them.
  • Quick and easy to read. Uses many analogies which parallel many off the web concepts.
  • The interviews at the back of the ebook add a good amount of value and cover many other search related topics.

Things I Thought Could be Improved:

  • Talks about how to get Google to craft a good description display, but does not mention that sometimes they match up with your page description if the exact search query exists in the meta description tag.

  • States tricking engines is unethical & expensive. In some cases this is true, but in others it is fast and cheap. It is all about determining your risk profile and goals. There is no universal right or wrong way to do SEO.
  • Does not discuss term weight, latent semantic indexing, or how search systems normalize page copy length. All of which are interesting issues related to SEO copywriting. Perhaps the lack of mentioning these was due to trying to keep the guide fairly non technical and easy to read.
  • At one point the guide said "Optimizing for one keyphrase is considered spam, and search engines don't like it." While I have not been involved with SEO as long as she is I disagree with that. Being focused is important, but if you write naturally many modifiers and semantically related terms will end up in the copy. I think it is impossible to write naturally and not cover many related keyword phrases.
  • There are a couple contridictions. In her example meta tag she stated that it weighs in at 191 characters and the meta description tag should be around 200 characters, but not exceed 300. Later she offered information from Jeremy Sanches, which states that meta description tags should not exceed 170 characters.
  • I am very anti paid inclusion (XML feeds). That does not make either of us right or wrong on the topic, but since it went cost per click generally I consider paid inclusion a last resort.
  • Does not talk much about social aspects of the web, and how content can be link inspiring or how people can create content based around important social ideas or linking opportunities.

Overall I thought the ebook was pretty good for those looking to learn about SEO copywriting. If you have to work with large companies and learn a few tips about how to get various departments to work together then that info covers the cost of the book. I also thought some of the interviews added good information as well.

Successful Search Engine Copywriting does not cover all SEO topics, but covers SEO copywriting fairly in depth, and costs $97.

Published: May 13, 2005 by Aaron Wall in book reviews


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