Case study: How SEO copywriting helped one small business owner stretch his marketing dollars

Studio Blue logoWhen Dan Walton, co-owner of the Portland, OR based Pilates studio Studio Blue launched his Website in 2007, he faced a frustrating problem.
“I Googled “Portland Pilates” and my site didn’t come up,” said Walton. “Other studios were showing up in the top ten results.”

Walton — who isn’t a computer geek and didn’t know anything about search engines — decided to take matters into his own hands.  The Pilates instructor learned about search engine optimization (SEO), took a SEO copywriting training course, and learned how to write copy that gets better search engine rankings. Now, Walton’s site appears in the top 10 of Google for keyword searches like “Portland OR Pilates”and “Pilates mat classes”– and he estimates getting at least five new clients a week from his Website.

SEO copywriting — the art of writing online website copy that makes the page easy to find in the search engines — has been a crucial component of search engine optimization success since the mid 90’s. Unfortunately, small business owners don’t always have the budget to hire someone to write their Website copy — and they don’t think they can learn. The result: nothing gets written.

“I like to write and figured I could do this. That’s why I took a course,” said Walton. “I figure I saved about $5,000 doing it myself.”

DIY SEO copywriting is becoming the option for small and medium-sized businesses that need to be easily found in the search engines. According to Heather Lloyd-Martin, CEO of SuccessWorks, a firm specializing in SEO copywriting training, “It’s a smart move for companies to learn how to write their own Website copy. That way, they don’t have to pay someone $50 – $500 per page to write it for them.

Lloyd-Martin released her online Small Business SEO Copywriting Training course to help companies bring their SEO copywriting in-house. Although she insists that SEO copywriting is easy to learn, Lloyd-Martin does have some practical advice for time-strapped business owners:

  • Set a writing schedule. It’s easy to figure that you’ll write something “when things calm down.” Plan to spend a set amount of time each day working on your Website and stick to your schedule.
  • Check out other Websites and figure out what you like and don’t like about their Web pages. That will give you an idea how to write for your site.
  • Ask for input from customers, friends — even family members. Learn what they love about your service. Ask them to review your first writing drafts. Their advice can help you see your site (and your writing) with new eyes.

Today, Walton is planning a site redesign, which includes a blog, more site content and even a Twitter campaign.  “It’s great to know that I can do this myself,”he says. “It’s saved me a lot of money.”

8 replies
  1. digital media degree
    digital media degree says:

    This really gives hope to some of the small businesses in making a significant appearance on the web. Many of the larger companies are dying out in this poor economy and it creates and opportunity for the smaller, independent ones to stand out.

    Reply
  2. Claire
    Claire says:

    Generally its much easier to optimise a small business. The competition is smaller, and it takes a lot less effort to do so. The question is… If every small business owner visited DIY SEO classes and copywriting classes, the competition will be much tougher, and well, everyone will be back to square one really won’t they.

    Reply
    • Heather
      Heather says:

      True enough – and that’s always the case with any kind of marketing. If every company did exactly what they should for better rankings and conversions, it would make the playing field a lot different. In fact, I know of quite a few companies who optimized their site a couple years ago – and are now competing with other companies who finally “got it” and started optimizing their own sites.

      At the same time, I’ve been doing this for over 10 years now, and we’re far, far away from the day when “everyone” optimizes their site correctly. In fact, I just got back from the ACCM conference where I had to convince catalog marketers to even put original content on their pages. So, I imagine that there is still a lot of SEO copywriting room to move for a long, long time…

      Reply
    • Heather
      Heather says:

      Yay! Yes, I love to see small business owners do well – especially in this economy. So many folks think that they “just can’t understand” SEO copywriting – nor could they do it themselves. It’s great to showcase folks who have succeeded. VERY exciting! :)

      Reply
  3. Dan Walton
    Dan Walton says:

    Heather, Thank you so much for your help with our website. It has now been almost 2 years since you’ve helped revamp our website and still year over year we are in the top 3 spots for “portland pilates”. If you are considering working with Heather, she is amazing! I couldn’t imagine where we would be with out her guidance…

    Thanks again,
    Dan

    Reply

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