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Changing Media Landscape: The Rise of the Copywriter

Stephen Logan

by Stephen Logan on 3rd August 2009

Every now and then the value of the written word is called into question. With the major technology-based epochal shifts that have occurred in the past few decades, it’s hardly surprising that each new medium is seen as the beginning of the end for copywriting.

When I say copywriting of course, I mean the long-standing form of the profession. Years before the computer came into existence, a time when the web was still something that spiders made; copywriting was a way of marketing services, products, or just your own ideas. Whilst keywords, embedded links and H2 headings weren’t a requirement for this form of printed copywriting, most of the conventions have been passed on to the world of SEO and online marketing.

Publishing, as we all know, is a costly business, therefore with fewer outlets, it goes without saying that opportunities to become a copywriter were limited prior to the online boom. Much of a copywriter’s time would be devoted to putting together strap lines and developing slogans; something that has very much carried over to today.

The term copywriter today is almost invariably linked with the Internet. With the proliferation of Internet websites, all of which require quality content through, the demand for SEO copywriting services has increased hugely. The techniques may have changed, but the ethos and the intention to create the best text possible to help a company sell their products and services certainly has not.

The idea that copywriting could once again be in decline has been stoked by the emergence of social media and, more accurately, video marketing. The Internet is definitely undergoing a change, there’s no hiding from that. Videos are becoming a far more popular way of personalising services and promoting your company. Social media is helping to fuel the viral video tidal wave, even search engines include them within their results these days.

The big question therefore regarding the future of copywriting is whether or not people can be bothered to read something when there may be a multimedia presentation on hand to do the same job? There’s no doubt in my mind that the demand for copy has plateaued. The huge growth in website numbers at the turn of the century meant that demand for writers was immense. As a result more moved online.

With a global recession in full swing even the biggest companies are making cutbacks, whilst some smaller online businesses have unfortunately capitulated entirely. All of which, in a supply and demand society, means that SEO copywriting could be deemed as surplus to requirements, a luxury if you will.

Internet technology is such that everything is slowly becoming automated. But there is, and will always be, a requirement for quality content. Whether it’s an innovative design, exciting concept or eloquently written copy, some old conventions still remain. If anything copywriting is returning to its traditions more.

Previously SEO copywriting was associated with something that was just about readable and had a keyword density of 10-20%. Now, the focus is firmly on quality. Aside from search engines clamping down on black hat techniques, the drive for higher standards has been borne out of increased competition and higher expectations of visitors. This isn’t something that is going to change any time soon.

The vast majority of people visiting your website day in and day out will take the time to read something whilst there. Ensuring that what they read immediately grabs attention and will encourage them to follow up with a purchase is the realm of the copywriter. Video marketing and social media are brilliant ways to get your name out there and generate the traffic, but they aren’t yet a standalone advertising platform.

Marketing is built around communication and language. The written word is as powerful today as it ever has been, whether online or off. Copy shapes a website; it helps boost your SEO, provides a narrative to help guide visitors through and will ultimately encourage visitors to use your services. An investment in copywriting is still one that is very much worth making, both for today and in the future.

Stephen Logan

Stephen Logan

Stephen Logan is our Senior Content Marketer at Koozai. With four years experience writing exclusively for the search engine marketing industry, he has amassed a wealth of industry related knowledge. He will be breaking news stories and contributing compelling SEO related stories.

2 Comments

  • Paul, copysnips.com 4th August 2009

    The big drawback with video is I can't just “skim” it, to see if it's worth my time viewing or not. That's why I don't see written copy disappearing any time soon.

    On the other hand, with the rise of video will (I predict) come the rise of a new sub-industry… video copywriting (i.e. copywriters writing the scripts for the videos).

    I've always advocated putting out QUALITY content first and foremost, because that's what Google will increasingly look for, and it also builds your AUTHORITY over time.

    Paul Hancox
    CopySnips.com

    Reply to this comment

  • benlocker 4th August 2009

    Demand for copywriting may have plateaued, but website owners are always going to favour excellent copy over dross. I'd say it's the bottom end of the market that's dropping out – which is no bad thing.

    Reply to this comment

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