Content Writing vs. Copywriting: Which is Which and Why You Need Both

Content writing and, indeed, content marketing strategy, are relatively new terms, fueled by the adoption of the internet, the rise of e-commerce, and the need to maintain relevance as search engine criteria change with new algorithms.

Copywriting, however, is a term that’s been around for centuries, and in many ways has a much wider reach, since it’s used for both internet-based and traditional media communications. Copywriting’s overarching goal is to drive brand awareness.

Content writing should do that too, but its primary goal is to demonstrate brand and corporate values and the solutions a product offers. Here’s a succinct differentiator:

Copywriting is designed to convert traffic into leads, or even better, sales.

Search engine optimized, or SEO content writing, is designed to generate organic traffic from search engines.

What is Content Writing?

In order to generate that organic traffic, content writing “needs to either inform, educate, or entertain” its readers, all while maintaining brand voice and values. While copywriting succinctly refers to the brand experience (“Wheaties — The Breakfast of Champions”), content writing focuses on using the keywords ordinary people to find information on the web. Those keywords are used when researching potential purchases, and content writing is about using those keywords in a natural way to not only drive traffic to a site, but to keep people on the site for as long as possible.

What is SEO Copywriting and How Does it Differ?

While copywriting focuses on the brand attributes that relate to the user experience —- which is why lifestyle advertising is so incredibly effective — content writing focuses on product benefits and attributes. In the case of breakfast cereals, those attributes include taste, sugar and fiber content, and calories, while the major benefits are ease of preparation and time savings.

In other words, without traffic generated by content writing, copywriting doesn’t have a chance to do its stuff. When you do a search on “best breakfast cereal,” Wheaties does show up — eventually, in an article titled “100 All-Time Breakfast Cereals” at number 12 and on page two of Google’s search results.