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Copywriting for the bots (search engine optimised copywriting)

Copywriter working on an advertising project
Copywriter at work

In an era that is driven by algorithms crafted to feed the human mind with preferred content so as to sell ads, customers are primed through usage to quickly sift through information, and decide whether to peruse the ad message further, deliberate on it, or discard it completely.

History of search engines

When the Internet first started out, the algorithms were simple – rank the ones that have more keywords higher in relevance. And then people realised that this could easily be gamed by stuffing keywords on pages to make them appear on search pages. Some of them went to the extent of “relentless repetition” to trick the search engines into picking them up and bumping their ranks up the search page by several levels. For example:

Looking for the best Cyber Monday offers? The Cyber Monday offers that you are looking for can be found right here on our site! We source these Cyber Monday offers from Cyber Monday TV sales to Cyber Monday sofa deals.

Today, if a copywriter engages with sloppy copy such as this, Google will penalise the move and set the web page several rankings back.

Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) – playing by the rules

The rules are always basic and fundamental whilst the specifics may change from time to time. Here are some dos and don’ts:


1. Be accurate in your writing.

If you are presenting numbers, ensure that your facts are correct. Check and double check.

2. Be relevant and trustworthy in your content.

The more relevant and trustworthy you are, the more your content will get shown in search results. The more it gets shared and perused, the higher up it will make in the rankings. Content that is fresh and tied in closely to a current topic will work well. Putting up content consistently that gets shared – links pointing back to the webpage/site adds to the credibility, and hence, discoverability.

3. Encourage sharing of the content.

Make it easy for others to share the content by means of a click of the button.

4. Increase linkages out of your page.

This increases authoritativeness as it shows that research has been done and you are growing the knowledge of the reader by pointing them elsewhere too. To do so, do not just include a “click here” – in that button that you are creating, write “Click here to access XXX” (include the title of that page or a summary of the content like “Information on cryptography”). This will be helpful for people using assistive technology.

5. Use one idea per paragraph.

Do not squeeze several thoughts in one paragraph as it will make for an overload of information and does not help the reader. You are not presenting a thesis. You are writing for the web and people peruse information by skimming and scanning. If you have a long document that cannot be trimmed further without making the information irrelevant, then break the paragraphs up into meaningful, readable sections. If the page is likely going to be very long, host the content across several pages. Serve to remove visual clutter.

6. Use bulleted lists.

This allows readers to grab and go – bite-sized information. Having bulleted lists has been found to improve reader usability by nearly 50%!

7. Use meaningful headline.

This allows readers to get to the parts that they want to read and delve in more.

If your page goes on for several paragraphs without any "break" in the way information is presented, visual boredom will set in and discourage the reader from continuing. Even a story-based site is chopped into chapters. Introduce pictures, graphs, illustrations to better bring about the content. Think web. Think usability.


8. Do not repeat a keyword several times.

The bots have been armed to penalise any attempts to create relevance through repetition.

9. Do not employ hyperbole and superfluous language that is full of jargon.

Write simply and in an impactful manner. Neutral writing improves usability by nearly 30%.


Copyright SYL+JAS (c) 2022. All rights reserved. No part of this article may be reproduced or rewritten in any form without expressed permission from the agency.

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