C.C. Chapman on SEO, Search Plus, and Doing the Unexpected

Today we’re delighted to share our interview with C.C. Chapman.

Most likely you recognize him as the co-author (with Ann Handley) of Content Rules, but once upon a time he was a corporate employee who broke out on his own…and no, you actually don’t know the rest!

Here, C.C. shares his story as well as his thoughts on SEO, content sharing and creation, Google’s Search Plus, and doing the unexpected…

Many folks who are entering the SEO copywriting and content marketing field would appreciate hearing your story about making the leap from your corporate job to a “recession-proof” self-employed career.

Would you share some of your story about your transition?

This could take a while if I went into all the details, so I’ll give a high-level overview.

I had started a successful marketing agency called The Advance Guard with a close friend. After two years of doing really fun work for a variety of clients, we were acquired by Campfire.

After being my own boss, the idea of working for someone else wore on me and I moved on after a while. I was in the process of writing Content Rules and decided it would be the perfect time to go out on my own so that I could focus on promoting the book.

With years of experience under my belt, I can now work with agencies and brands to help them come up with and execute cutting-edge marketing campaigns.

I now make a living speaking, writing and consulting. It is a lot of hard work and long hours, but I’ve never been happier.

Your book, Content Rules, emphasizes the fact that content is king. What other take-aways would you suggest for those just entering the SEO copywriting and content marketing world?

I have a feeling your audience might not appreciate this, but I think the best advice I can give them from the book is that you can’t only think about SEO when writing a blog post or creating any other content that you hope will perform well.

SEO is important, but it only gets you so far. If the content you create isn’t engaging enough to keep someone’s attention and fill them with an urge to share it with their community, then I don’t think you are being as successful as you can be.

Keywords and a catchy headline might help bring in the traffic, but what is going to keep them coming back?

One of our rules is “Do Something Unexpected” and I’d encourage anyone writing copy to never forget this one.

It doesn’t mean to be inappropriate, but something that the audience you are writing for might not expect. Something to grab their attention and make what you are writing stand out from all the other posts that will cross in front of their eyes that day.

You stated during your BlogWorld presentation that: “…even with the coolest, most engaging content in the world, it will fail if you don’t use manners and smart business skills to share it with others.” 

What smart business skills and manners would you suggest for sharing content? Is there a set of guidelines that you follow when sharing yours?

Since you asked about sharing, the main thing to remember is to always give credit to the source.

If you are sharing a photo then say who the photographer is and link to their site. Using a quote from another person’s post, give them credit and link to their name.

The audience reading this is SEO professionals, so they all know the importance of inbound links: so give them out accordingly when sharing other’s content.

In your opinion, where does SEO fit into the bigger content marketing/strategy picture?

It is something to think about, but it should never lead the content creation process.

You should know the proper keywords. You always want a solid headline. Those are basics for good writing online.

But, if you are slamming in keywords just for the sake of getting more Google juice and the reader can tell that, then you are going to lose their attention.

Much speculation and opinion are spinning around Google’s Search Plus Your World (Search Plus). What are your thoughts about it? How do you see Search Plus affecting content marketing?

I love it.

It makes it more important than ever to create content that gets shared, because now being the first result on a Google Page is not the only important thing. If no one else in my social graph has shared your post, I might never see it.

What I always tell my clients is to not focus on your immediate audience. By that I mean that the people already subscribed and reading your content on a daily basis are already paying attention and you’ve got them. But, what are you going to create to get them to share out to their networks and turn those people into regular subscribers?

You’ve already got your community, but you want their communities.

Search Plus makes this critical because as people search on topics and they see no one they know talking about or sharing it, they may ignore the organic results.

Interviewed by Laura J. Crest

About C.C. Chapman

C.C. Chapman is a digital lifestyle writer and the co-author of the best selling book Content Rules.

C.C. is a graduate of Bentley University and makes his home with his family in the woods outside of Boston.

You are welcome to connect with C.C. Chapman on Twitter @cc_chapman .

photo thanks to philcampbell

6 replies
  1. Heather Georgoudiou says:

    Great interview Laura! I love the mantra “Do Something Unexpected” with your content and use your manners. It’s amazing how far a heartfelt thank you can go – even in cyber space!

  2. Courtney Ramirez says:

    Great interview! I love C.C.’s work and am so happy to read the idea that SEO is part but not all of the content process. Sometimes I get the feeling clients either expect all or nothing – but it’s really a little of both. Keywords are important, but not the end point of copywriting.

    • Laura says:

      Thanks Courtney! Yes, it is a challenge to educate clients about the role of SEO in the big content creation picture. It seems that it’s become an integral part of the SEO Copywriter’s job description to enlighten folks about the role and limitations of strict SEO.

  3. Matthew Newnham says:

    Hi Laura,

    Thanks so much for this great interview – a number of fab gems in there!

    I love these discussions about what we could call “the rise [or return?] of content”, and the balance between great content and smart SEO techniques.

    This is a great cause to support, because it will be great news for anyone who resonates with engaging quality and serving our audience.

    Best wishes from Scotland,


    • Laura says:

      Hi Matthew! Thanks for your comment – so glad you liked the interview! Yes, it is an artful balance between great content and smart SEO techniques. But of course, the customers’ need for information (and/or a good story) trumps all else. By the way, I’m a descendant of the Scots – great to meet you :)


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