Many people don’t know what a copywriter does, let alone what a content writer does.
So, is there a difference? Yes . . . and no.
What does a content writer do?
Web content writing is generally understood to be the ‘writing of content for search engines.’ If your content isn’t quality reading, then it’s unlikely to have much impact on your search rankings (because few people will link to it).
Contrary to this, Google does like to see a swathe of content related to a specific subject. Why? Because this content feeds back to Google that your site is truly about that subject – your site (or post) configures itself around that subject and doesn’t merely mention that subject.
Some say that this is more for Google indexing and holds little relevance for the reader. However, it will help to ensure your pages are indexed appropriately (and more importantly, your pages will appear in the right searches).
To refine the whole process into a nutshell: a good content writer will write both for the benefit of the reader (with high quality, relevant material) and for search engines.
If you think that it’s worth paying a content writer just to plop ‘keyword stuffed’ content on to your website, then think again. Most people just view this as another type of spam. Content writing is definitely not dreary writing that no one is interested in reading.
Content writing is quality writing that has a definite purpose and goal:
A good content writer must know how to attract traffic (via blogs, articles etc). A good content writer must also know how to engage, how to create a relationship and how to generate a positive effect on a brand. And this is what copywriters do as well.
So, in many ways, content writing and copywriting go hand in hand.
Hang on a minute – what is ‘copywriting’ then?
Generally, people see copywriting as ‘sales oriented.’ But in reality, content writing and copywriting are the same thing.
Do you want a client to feel pressured into buying your product? No, of course not. Do you want your content reader not to take action? No, of course not.
You want your reader to be informed and inspired, and to take action.
Bottom line: Your content should lead to action. So, content writing and copywriting do overlap.
For those would-be content writers who poo-poo the salesy angle of copywriting: you’re going the wrong way. Putting filler content onto websites just to fool Google is your own foolery. It won’t work.
There are heaps of poor quality sites out there, with content writers churning out trash, just as there are poor copywriters churning out copy that won’t convert.
It all comes back to good writing and clarity of content
Write well, write to inform, write to educate – and you will sell services. Good content writing IS good copywriting and vice-versa.
Sure, sometimes a copywriter will be focusing more on writing promotional ads etc that doesn’t involve content. That’s different. But even then, there needs to be a content hook of some kind. Even if a commercial purpose isn’t the aim, you still need to direct the reader to take action (i.e. persuasive writing).
Content writing and copywriting do overlap. If written well, both forms of writing position you as a leader, giving credibility, inspiration and motivation for your reader to take action of some sort.
Most importantly, always aim for clarity, whether you’re a content writer or copywriter. Content should be interesting, engaging, persuasive and clear. It should focus on benefits for the customer, incorporate keywords as needed and address SEO (according to your client's directions).
For more interesting advice on content writing: view Entrepreneur's article.
And some great points that compare copywriting and content writing here: