When should you hire a newbie SEO copywriter?

In the last post, we discussed how there are different “types” of SEO copywriters — newbie, intermediate and expert. Today, we’ll talk about the newbie SEO copywriter — when she’s a smart hiring choice, what work she’s qualified to do, and the kind of time that you’ll have to spend to keep her on track.

Profile of newbie SEO copywriters:

All SEO copywriters were here once upon a time. Newbie SEO copywriters are eager to learn, excited about their new career choice and ready to tackle most any client (although they’re only ready for a chosen few.) Some newbie SEO copywriters have a sales writing background and they’re simply expanding their skill set. Others are brand-new to the writing life. Both types of SEO copywriters can perform small-scale writing tasks for a more competitive (read: cheaper) price.

These folks may not know HTML — and anything code-related may be scary. They may outgrow this phase, but some newbies will never get past this level. As such, most can be relied on for only the most basic of tasks. That’s OK.

No, newbie SEO copywriters should not perform keyphrase research, choose keyphrases, write crucial sales pages or put their nose in your strategy business. They simply don’t have the experience to do it well. Big brands would typically not benefit from a newbie hire. However, because they are less expensive than their more experienced brethren, newbie SEO copywriters are often a great alternative for small businesses.

Newbie SEO copywriters are good for:

  1. Blog posts
  2. Forum posts
  3. FAQ pages
  4. General articles
  5. Some product descriptions (if they are more experienced and with supervision)

Sometimes, a more experienced newbie SEO copywriter can:

  1. Perform keyphrase editing
  2. Create Titles, descriptions and keywords tags (only if they have HTML experience)

The issue with newbie SEO copywriters is that they don’t know what they don’t know. You’ll pay a lower cost, sure — but you’ll be spending your valuable time training your writer and looking over her shoulder. If you don’t have that kind of time (or if you have limited SEO knowledge) an intermediate-level SEO copywriter would be your best bet.

There is one other important upside. Sometimes, you can find the perfect newbie who learns fast, invests herself in your business and turns around accurate work, quickly. If you can find that “diamond-in-the-rough” SEO copywriter, hang on to her. My previous Director of Search Strategy was a diamond-in-the-rough. Leslie Carruthers, owner of The Search Guru, was another. Both women are absolutely fantastic at what they do and have helped me tremendously.

Need a writer with more experience? We’ll be talking about Intermediate-level SEO copywriters in the next post. Stay tuned!


Should SEO copywriters choose keyphrases?

I’ve heard a couple people say that they’d never allow SEO copywriters to choose campaign keyphrases.

My first question was, “Why not?”

And then I got to thinking.

It’s true that not all SEO copywriters are considered equal. Some SEO copywriters are brand-new to the field and don’t, as my father used to say, “Know their butt from third base” (actually, he used a different word than “butt” — but you get the idea.) Green, inexperienced and don’t know what they don’t know, these SEO copywriters do serve a purpose. And that purpose does not include keyphrase or content development strategy.

Other SEO copywriters are highly-skilled SEOs themselves. These copywriters “get” SEO’s marketing, technical and direct response requirements. You’ll see these savvy SEO copywriters successfully research (and choose) keyphrases, fry them up in a SEO copywriting pan, and never, ever let you forget your conversion plan. Yes, I would trust these copywriters to set my keyphrase research strategy. In fact, depending on who I was working with, I may trust the copywriter more than the SEO of record.

SEO copywriters offer more than pretty words and high-positioning text. Beginner SEO copywriters are great for easy projects: blog posts, some article writing, some product descriptions. Expert copywriters often partner with businesses long-term, helping them set SEO and content strategies. And “middle-of-the-road” copywriters are great for some projects — and not for others.

So, how do you choose what skill level fits your needs?

During the next few blog posts, we’ll be deconstructing the SEO copywriter’s job and discussing the best skill set for your next project. You’ll learn when “cheap and dirty” SEO copywriting will fit your needs — and when paying top dollar is well worth it.

Stay tuned for more!

Terminal 5 trauma – British Airways and missed reputation management opportunities

Just one week ago, I was returning home from an Amsterdam holiday. I flew into Heathrow’s brand-new Terminal 5 and happily boarded my plane.

My luggage did not.

If you’ve been tracking the Terminal 5-blues news, you’d know that it’s been estimated that 20,000 bags were stuck in Heathrow. Volunteer British Airways staff are manually hand-sorting them as I type. Reputation-management wise, British Airways is in deep doo-doo, with calls for the CEO’s resignation. And customer-wise, travelers are booking with other airlines, trying to avoid Terminal 5’s chaotic reputation.

Unfortunately, every business is vulnerable to a public relations nightmare (although British Airway’s is exceedingly bad.) The key is how you deal with it. British Airways can be remembered as “the airline that will lose your luggage,” or “the airline that had a glitch, but overcame it with great customer service.”

From a customer perspective, I’m frustrated. Here it is, seven days later, and I still don’t have my bag. The BA.com luggage tracking system is down frequently, and customer service doesn’t have any new information. I understand that this is an extraordinary situation – but here’s what would make me feel happier from a customer service perspective:

  1. A dedicated mini-site (even a blog) focused solely on the lost baggage issue. 20,000 bags in backlog and missing bags seven days out would indicate that many, many people need help. It’s not like a site like this will hurt BA – after all, the luggage situation has made international news. But it would show that BA is trying.
  2. Information about claims as they apply to this situation. Granted, claim information is on the BA.com site. However, it’s been implied that BA will increased the compensation amount for passengers stuck in the Terminal 5 fiasco. If I knew that British Airways was increasing the compensation, I would feel OK about buying a new pair of jeans rather than feeling resentful that I’m spending MY money because of BA’s baggage issues. Having updated information on the Terminal 5 mini-site would be incredibly helpful.
  3. Updated general baggage information. If luggage is being manually sorted – and the database isn’t necessarily reflecting that – please tell us. If BA.com has reduced the luggage backload by 5000 pieces a day, please post it on the site. I feel much more comfortable in a control-free situation when I at least have the most accurate information.
  4. An apology. It may sound trite, but I would love to see a dedicated Terminal 5 site with a big fat “We’re so, so sorry” statement right on the home page. Customer service has been excellent in relying this information – but I want to hear it from BA.com’s management.
  5. A forum where people can ask general questions about the luggage situation. Granted, this would take some manpower on BA.com’s side. But it would be nice to have another way to contact British Air and learn new information without being put on hold for 10 minutes or more.

Setting up a Terminal 5 dedicated blog and creating content for it wouldn’t take much time. A smart SEO or reputation management expert could take care of it in half a day. And then, British Airways could point to the site and say, “See, we’re trying. We do care. And we’re doing everything we can to make this right.”

The one saving grace during this time? I have to say that British Airways customer service is excellent. Most of the reps I’ve talked with have been friendly and helpful – even though they are on the “where’s my luggage” firing lines. My only hope is that these excellent folks get some sort of hazard pay. They certainly deserve it.

Just called the airline to ask about my luggage. Apparently, 5,000 bags are being put on flights today. They can’t tell me if my bag was one of them. And so it continues… :)