Content Writer and SEO Content Writer: What’s the Difference?

Business owners and marketers often have differing views on the roles of content writers. But fear not, I'm here to break it down for you. Whether you're after captivating storytelling or a search engine game, here's the knowledge you need to understand the difference between the two.

People vary in size, color, interests, sock preference, daily browser tab count, and all that jazz. Well, much like people, business owners and marketers vary in what they think SEO content writers do. 

The ideas are always, well… different, making each interaction a unique challenge. 

With this piece, my goal is to avoid lengthy explanations and simply share a link to this piece whenever I talk to clients. 

Well… no! My true intent is to guide you to understand the difference between content writers and SEO content writers. You’re paying a fortune for each service you expect to pay dividends months and years from now. The least you deserve is a better understanding of what you should expect to be getting from both.

Starting with the basics, let's define both

Image downloaded from Gregoire Jeanneau on Unsplash

#1 What is the role of a Content Writer?

A content writer creates and manages written content for businesses. They use writing skills to convey ideas clearly. Content writers work on various projects, including blogs, articles, whitepapers, case studies, and even social media, email, or sales pages. The last three are usually left to social media specialists and sales copywriters.

Success requires strong writing, research, and great knowledge of the industry they’re writing for. Content writers should also understand proven readability practices, should be fluent, and have a strong vocabulary. 

Recently, we discovered that content writers should forget everything I just said and learn to write effective prompts. But that's a story for another day.

Aspiring writers can start by honing skills, building a portfolio with online work or a blog, and choosing a few niches where their skills flourish.

The way I see it, a writer's success should be measured by how much readers engage with their content. Think time spent reading, for instance or conversions.

#2 What is the role of an SEO Content Writer?

An SEO content writer is all about crafting and optimizing written content for search engines. 

Beyond writing and regular research on a topic, they tackle keyword research, content gap spotting, and WDF-IDF analysis. They should be able to assess your domain authority and know what content opportunities should bring in the best results. By results, I mean search traffic in the form of your target audience.

They strategically use internal links, ensuring link juice flows smoothly around the website and especially to cornerstone content. They don’t just write content. They identify opportunities to improve existing content and improve the ranking positions in SERP. 

Success here demands a decent industry understanding, fluency, and a knack for readability. A top-notch SEO content writer not only writes well but also brings in more of the right visitors over time. With some experience, they should be able to communicate when to expect results and how much effort it will take.

1. Amusing the Reader 🏄🏼 vs. 📈 Result-Oriented 

Content writers have a knack for captivating readers through thought-provoking concepts, humor, expertise, and creativity. They enjoy storytelling and fancy ways of keeping the reader engaged. They are more likely to share different narratives and angles and may imagine ten unique ways to approach the same subject. 

On the flip side, SEO content writers are result-oriented. They unerstand the importance of content writing in SEO. Their primary focus is on achieving specific outcomes. To do so they focus on providing helpful content and employ optimization practices for content to rank higher on search engines. By strategically incorporating keywords and implementing SEO best practices, they aim to enhance visibility and drive targeted results.

2. Original Idea 💡 vs. ❔ Commonly Asked

You’ll find content writers to often relish on the creation of original ideas. They are capable of sharing different perspectives and concepts. They excel in bringing fresh and innovative content to the forefront. They’ll also do their best to make the content breathe the level of expertise the audience expects to see. 

In contrast, SEO content writers take a more pragmatic approach. They address commonly asked questions instead of new ideas. They align their content with user queries to bolster search rankings. They rarely theoreticise what value they should bring to the reader. They just look up what users are already asking. Recognizing the power of an array of SEO tools, they strike a balance between value and relevance.

3. Free Form 🐥 vs. ✍🏽 Keywords

Content writers more often appreciate the freedom of expression. They accept free-form approach to storytelling and use it to increase user engagement or share an important. Come to think of it, for an SEO writer, H2 or H3 subtitles may serve as a chance to structure content, address ‘people also ask’, or insert key terms. However, for a content writer, they often offer opportunities to intrigue readers or even summarize paragraphs with clever wordplay.

SEO content writers seamlessly integrate strategically chosen keywords into their content. Actually, they build volumes of content around keywords. This integration is not merely a formality - as it is for content writers - but a deliberate effort to align with search engine’s preferences.

4. Aware of SEO 👍🏻 vs. 🤘🏻 Understands SEO

Content writers typically have a basic understanding of SEO principles. Those creating blog content often follow the SEO guidelines provided by the client's marketing team. Most content writers can incorporate keywords effectively, including famous meta descriptions.

On the other hand, SEO content writers go a step further. They not only acknowledge SEO but actively implement best practices in each piece of content. Regardless of the client's marketing team's familiarity with the details, SEO content writers thoroughly review the content. 

When the moment is right, they suggest improvements to enhance the content production process. They should be more than capable of guiding other authors on SEO best practices. They go beyond surface-level optimizations, ensuring that the entire site-wide content aligns with SEO goals.

5. Form -versatile 🗣 vs. 🕵 SEO-focused (Structured)

Content writers aim to inform, educate, or persuade readers for diverse purposes like building brand awareness, increasing website traffic, generating leads, establishing credibility, and perhaps improving search engine rankings. They should be able to understand and navigate the company's goals for the content effectively. 

SEO content writers prioritize search engine results. They build your discovery and relevancy in search engines. They need to grasp client goals, conduct SEO audits, and set realistic expectations for what can be achieved through SEO content writing. Much like content writers’, their understanding extends to various objectives like conversions and lead generation, but the core focus remains on the ranking intent driving traffic from each piece of content

6. Niche Gurus 😎 vs. 🤓 SEO Experts

Content writers often find their niche, becoming experts in specific fields. They delve deep into industries, gaining a profound understanding that is reflected in their content. 

SEO content writers, however, take expertise to a dual level. They not only specialize in niches but also understand the importance of content writing in SEO. This dual expertise allows them to craft content that seamlessly aligns with both audience interests and search engine requirements.

I've seen many SEO content writers switching between niches without necessarily being experts in a specific field. They need to excel in niche-specific research, analyzing research papers, forums, and expert opinions. Personally, I've applied my skills across various domains. I have a workflow purposely built to ensure I quickly jump the learning curve for each piece of content, ensuring quality and relevancy..

7. Singular 🔍 vs. 💫 Content Holistic

Content writers mostly maintain a singular focus on the content piece in front of them. They consider business needs, of course, but the goal is to usually nail the single blog post. If they refer to other pieces on the blog, they were either instructed to do so or they found it relevant to the piece they're writing. With that said, they don’t necessarily take into account other existing content they could strategically refer to - that includes cornerstone, top performing, and highly related content.

Conversely, SEO content writers go beyond singular focus. They are not only content-aware but they plan refering other pieces of content from the content at hand. This multifaceted awareness ensures that their content aligns not only with building topical authority, but also with the rest of the content present on the website.

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