10 Things to Expect from Your SEO Copywriter
From the perspective of a business owner, webmaster, or marketing manager, the change exhibited by the Internet is profoundly exciting, yet profoundly disturbing. The information (and misinformation and disinformation) it offers, the business benefits it promises, and the rules it is governed by change at such a rapid rate that it’s almost impossible to keep up.
These changes have led to a growing appreciation of the value of quality web copy. This appreciation has, in turn, led to an influx of opportunistic ‘copywriters’ promoting themselves as website copywriters or SEO copywriters. Don’t get me wrong, there are quite a few excellent SEO copywriters out there, and you should definitely shop around. The purpose of this article isn’t to scare you; it’s to help you find the SEO copywriter who’ll deliver honest service and excellent results.
So with that in mind, take a look at the following ten tips. These are the things you have a right to expect from anyone wearing a name badge that reads “website copywriter”, “SEO copywriter”, “internet copywriter”, or “web copywriter”… (See also 10 Things to Expect From Your Website Copywriter and How to Make the Most of Your Website Copywriter.)
1) An understanding of SEO
Obviously, your SEO copywriter must have a solid understanding of the essentials of Search Engine Optimization. They must know that ranking is essentially the result of a website’s relevance (i.e. keywords) and importance (i.e. inbound links). There are a whole lot of other factors involved, but if your SEO copywriter doesn’t understand these two basics, you should look elsewhere. If you’d like to ensure your SEO copywriter knows a little more than just the basics, take a look at SEO for CEOs, Writing SEO Copy, SEO Trade Secrets, Web Copy – How Much is Enough?, and How to Top Google by Writing Articles for some clues as to what you might like to ask in order to assess their knowledge.
2) Proven experience
The proof is, as they say, in the pudding. It’s not enough that your SEO copywriter can talk the talk; they must also be able to walk the walk. Ask to see some examples of websites for which they’ve obtained some good rankings. Note that it may be very difficult to find an SEO copywriter who has actually worked on both keywords and link generation, so if you find one who has, and they write well, snap ’em up! They’ll have a very broad and useful working knowledge of search engines.
3) An understanding of how many keywords to use
You don’t want to fill every page up with every keyword you’re targeting. This simply dilutes your site’s relevance and reduces readability. Ask your SEO copywriter how many keywords they would recommend targeting on each page. Hopefully they’ll suggest no more than 3, preferably 2. By targeting 2 keyword phrases per page, you can use them a lot without impacting readability.
4) Clear agreement on who will provide keywords
Someone needs to perform a keyword analysis in order to figure out what words you should be trying to rank highly for. Your SEO copywriter should be able to do this for you, but it’s quite often more cost-effective if someone a little closer to the business does it. Either way, make sure your agreement with your SEO copywriter makes it very clear who is performing this task. Don’t assume the SEO copywriter is going to do it, because they may assume you’re going to do it, and then you’ll blow your budget.
5) Keywords or keyword phrases
Expect your SEO copywriter to offer some advice regarding how specific you should be with your keywords. In most industries, the competition for keywords is so fierce that you’ll be forced to target very specific keywords in order to rank – at least at the outset. For instance, if you’re in IT, you probably wouldn’t start out by targeting the keyword “IT”. The competition is immense (at the time of writing, there were approx 3,240,000,000 results for this search in Google.com) and the IT giants already dominate the search engines for this keyword. Instead, try using a more specific keyword phrase like “IT infrastructure consulting new york” (at the time of writing, there were only around 4,000,000 results for this search in Google.com). The other benefit to targeting more specific keyword phrases is that you’ll generate more relevant leads.
6) Agree on word count per page
Always make sure your SEO copywriter gives you an indication of the number of words they expect to write per web page. While it’s necessary to have a decent body of words on most of your web pages, you certainly shouldn’t have too many. What “too many” is all depends on your industry, the objective of the page, and the needs of your audience. It’s always a delicate balance, but it’s certainly possible to rank highly with only 100-200 words per page. So don’t be fooled into paying for copy you don’t need!
7) Density targets & measure
SEO of a web page is NOT guess-work. A good SEO copywriter will talk about density measures. This is a measure of the number of time the keyword phrase appears on the page. It’s expressed as a percentage of the total word count of the page. So if your page has 200 words, and your keyword phrase appears 10 times, its density is 5%. As a rule of thumb, your SEO copywriter should be aiming for a density of approximately 5% for your primary keyword phrase and 3-5% for your secondary keyword phrase. If your density measures are much higher than this, readability will be reduced, and you’ll risk being perceived as spam by the search engines. Make sure your SEO copywriter understands keyword density, is prepared to state the target density for each keyword phrase, and is also happy to be measured by that standard (should you decide to measure).
8) Where to place keywords
The question of keyword placement has been the subject of much debate amongst SEO copywriters. While it is still unclear how much impact placement has, there is a general consensus that it has SOME impact. Be sure that your copywriter is aware of this impact. Popular opinion has it that keywords are more effective if they appear in headings, bolded text, links, and generally toward the beginning of the page.
9) Some comment on structure & links
Websites are generally better indexed by search engines if their spiders can traverse the entire site using text links. This means your SEO copywriter should be linking each page to every other page using text links. If your site is complex, this may be impractical, so your SEO copywriter will need to create a hierarchical structure for your site. First, they should break your subject material down into categories. Then for each category, they should write a summary page. These summary pages should be accessible from higher level pages via text links. They should also be accessible from each other. Each summary page should link – using text links – to a number of pages discussing the finer details of the category. And each detail page in a particular category should link to every other detail page in that category (once again, using text links). This way the spiders are able to travel from the top of your hierarchy to the bottom, and from left to right across any level.
10) Don’t believe grand promises
SEO copywriters can play a significant role in increasing your search engine ranking. But they can’t do it overnight. By optimizing your site for your target keyword phrases, an SEO copywriter is simply declaring the relevance of your site. If you engage an SEO copywriter to write helpful articles containing a byline with a link back to your site, you can then submit these articles for publication on the Internet, and this will steadily increase your ranking. But if an SEO copywriter tells you they can dramatically increase your ranking in a matter of hours or days, be wary. NOTE: Your SEO copywriter should be able to submit your articles to various submit sites on the Internet. These sites are closely watched by hundreds of thousands of publishers of e-newsletters and article pages from all around the world. High quality articles are quickly snapped up and published prolifically. And each time your article is published, you’ve got another link back to your site, thus increasing the importance of your site (to the search engines). If you’d like to submit your own articles, your SEO copywriter should be able to sell you a list of 50 or more submit sites for as little as USD$99.
An SEO copywriter is a valuable addition to your marketing function. But you need to make sure you choose wisely. When you know what questions to ask, the battle is half won.
Copywriting Service vs. PLR Membership
In today’s day and age there are a lot of people who are looking for an easy way out; a way to buck the system. And even though there are some areas in life where this is possible, when it comes to web content you do not want to take any shortcuts.
If you are in need of content for your website or blog, you have two options available to you.
1. You can visit a copywriting service website and take advantage of their ghostwriting services. Even though you may have to shell out a bit of money, you will still be getting 100% original, quality content.
2. You can rely on private label rights (plr) articles. There are several sites that offer these types of articles for a monthly fee. The way that they work is quite simple. Every month for a set membership fee you will receive a certain number of articles. This may sound like a good deal, but do you know all of the details? To join one of these sites you will have to pay a monthly fee of up to $100 for some sites; still this may not seem bad compared to hiring a copywriting service. But with plr articles, you will also be sharing them with hundreds of other people. That’s right; you will not be the only one who uses the article.
If you cannot tell by now, each service offers its own level of benefits. But for the majority of people, hiring a copywriting service is the way to go. Listed below are a few ways that a copywriting service is better than a plr service.
1. When you deal with a copywriting service you will be getting 100% original articles that you and you alone will have the sole rights to. This means that nobody else has permission to use the articles. On the other hand, with plr articles you have to share with hundreds of other people. Sure, you may get a lower price but is it worth it? If you get caught using duplicate content on your site you will be penalized and your site may even be shut down. Search engines are aware of this problem, and are cracking down on it very hard.
2. With a copywriting service you will get articles that are written to suit your needs. If you want 10 articles on home based business you can get them. In addition, you can even specify the length and keyword density. But when you work with a plr site you get what they send, and only what they send. If none of the articles suit your needs you are stuck with content that is worth next to nothing.
3. A copywriting service gives you what you want, when you want it. If you need a certain amount of articles on a specific topic within two days you can get it with a copywriting service. At a plr site, you get what they write and they send it when they want. So even though you will save money, what are the chances that you will ever get exactly what you want, when you want it? The answer is slim to none.
As you can see, a copywriting service is almost always better than a membership to a PLR site. If you are in need of original, targeted, quality content seek out a copywriting service that you can rely on.
How To Get More People To Respect Your Value
Doesn’t it suck when people don’t respect the price you charge? When they always want a special deal? Well guess what? It’s probably YOUR fault! When people ring around for quotes on price, and it happens a lot with Yellow Pages directory ads, they’ll ring 2-3 businesses usually. That’s what everyone has been ‘trained to do as consumers, and it’s the ads that force them to. How? All the ads look the same!
Just think about when you need a service, say your lawns mowed. So you open the yellow pages and look up lawn-mowing, and there are dozens of ads with people wanting to mow your lawn. So who do you choose?Whoever is cheapest, right? And why? Because all the ads look the same, so there isn’t anything that makes one business different from the next. And if that’s the case, the only difference comes down to the price!
Makes sense really, because if all the ads look the same then PRICE can be the only difference between them, right? So if the ads for each industry are virtually all saying the same thing, can you understand that you’re educating your market to base your value on price? Then what you need to do is create a unique selling proposition that will make you STAND OUT from your competition.
Now let me explain what a unique selling proposition is and how you can get one for your business. Every day we are subjected to about 4,000 to 5,000 advertising messages, so we all need to do work a bit harder to stand out from the crowd, and that’s what the USP will do for you. It’s that CORE reason that someone should buy from you. And here’s a great tool for finding your USP in half an hour.
Grab a piece of paper, and draw a straight line down the middle. On the top of the left-hand column I want you to write “You know how….” And here is where you write down all the things that your competitors do badly. Now we are just building a list, so don’t be critical of what you’re writing, or how you write it.
At the top of the right-hand column write “Well what we do is…” And here you write down all the things that you do that are great, basically laying out ALL your cards. Once you’ve done this, you should have a list of what your competitors do, and all the things you offer which are different from them, and this is what you base your Unique Selling Proposition around.
And if you haven’t come up with anything from this exercise, then you need to create something to be different! Once you have a USP, then turn it into a statement everywhere your advertising goes, as a reason why someone should do business with you over anyone else!
Another great way to make sure your customer is happy to pay extra for your business is what’s called ‘dollars for cents’ copy. We all love a bargain, right? What this means is to throw in so much value it’s not funny. Say for example you have a $99 product for sale, and you throw in $300 worth of free bonuses, you’ll make sure the customer comes out way in front in terms of value. So they are paying you just ‘cents’, but getting ‘dollars’ back in value.
The key with this method is to make sure the bonuses you throw in are low cost to you, but high perceived value to your customer. You could offer a free report, cd or dvd, any type of information products like this are quite inexpensive to produce, yet the information contained within could be very valuable to your customers. This makes the buying decision so much easier when your customer is getting much more value than what they are paying for. This is one technique you should always strive to use, and it can literally set your sales soaring!
Keyword Use That Goes Beyond the Search Engines
It seems to be a single-sided debate. When you mention keyword use, all thoughts normally go to the search engines. Copywriting, however, is more about your human visitors than it is the engines. In fact, even the mainstay of SEO copywriting (keywords) is based on a need to spur visitors along as they work through the information on your site. If you want truly effective SEO copy, you’ll take time to learn that keyword use goes beyond the search engines.
Let’s go offline for a moment. Go get your telephone book. If you were going to conduct a search for, say, an office desk, how would you go about it? You’d look in the Yellow Pages(TM) under office furniture. Next you’d drill through the ads in search of ads that specifically mentioned “desks” or perhaps the particular kind of desk you want.
<B>SEO for Newspapers?</B>
When looking through the inserts that come with your Sunday newspaper, your eye would be especially drawn to office supply flyers that featured the word “desks” or a picture of desks. Why? Because you’ve got desks on the brain right now. You’re going to be especially sensitive to that word because that’s the current need you’re trying to fill.
The same, exact thing applies when someone searches online. Keywords started out because human Internet searchers typed them into the search engines, not because the search engines selected the terms. The same holds true today. You don’t just make up keywords. You use services and programs that allow you to research the exact phrases human beings are typing to Google, Yahoo! and other engines. When you incorporate those words and phrases into your website copy, you’re doing way more than attempting to boost your rankings; you’re also helping to navigate the site visitor from the search engine to the right page of your site.
If you’re the owner of the office supply store we’ve been talking about and you want to create a newspaper ad to sell a new line of desks you carry, what do you think might appear in the headline? The word “desk” or perhaps the phrase “office desks.” Why would you do that? There are no search engines to optimize for in the newspaper industry. You’ll include those keywords because it makes sense to do so. You’ll include them because they are descriptive of what you’re selling. You’ll include them because it will attract the readers’ attention and draw them to your store. That’s not search engine optimization; it’s just good marketing.
<B>Lead, Don’t Shove</B>
The same applies when writing copy for your site. There’s more than one reason to include keywords in your copy. The primary one is not the engines…it’s your site visitors. Strategic keyword placement helps guide your visitors to the information, products or services they are looking for. Don’t shove keywords in everywhere you think you can possibly fit them. Instead, use keywords to lead your visitors in the right direction.
Even if there were no such thing as search engine optimization, your copy would almost certainly still contain keywords. It only makes sense to have keywords in the headline, so visitors will know what the page is about. Sub-heads? Sure thing! People scan more than they read, so having keywords in sub-heads is a great idea. And in the body copy? You bet! After all, it’s pretty hard to sell desks without actually using the word “desk.” Since there are school desks and computer desks and many other desks, you’ll want to make it clear that your sale is for “office desks.” That, too, only makes sense.
As you can see, keyword inclusion has been going on far longer than the Internet has existed. It’s been an important part of copywriting since marketing was invented. When you create a copywriting plan for your site pages, think through which keywords you should use and where the most effective places to position those keywords would be. Then develop your SEO copy with a goal of directing your visitors to the right information. When you do, you’ll naturally optimize for the search engines at the same time.