5 SEO Client Types to Avoid at All Costs

Do you instantly hit the “ignore” button when you see a “special” client’s name come up on caller ID?

Do you write “please shoot me” notes during client calls?

Choosing the wrong clients is a slow, sure path to insanity. Fortunately, these folks throw up some pretty obvious red flags during the sales process. The key to business success is noticing those red flags in the moment — and not deluding yourself into thinking you can “fix” the client (yeah, right!)

Here are five common SEO writing client types to avoid at all costs:

– The “Taylor Swift” client

“All of my past SEO providers did me wrong, and I want to tell the world!”

If a prospect is outlining her grievances about every SEO writing firm she’s worked with — and this is your first phone call — you may want to steer clear. It’s true that people can make lousy SEO-provider decisions. And it’s true that there are bad SEO companies out there, and you may need to repair some legitimate damage. At the same time, you’ll want to proceed with caution when you notice that blinking neon chip on her shoulder. Especially if the prospect is ranting about her SEO exes instead of discussing the project.

With a “Taylor Swift” client, the real problem may not be “bad” SEO companies. Instead, the client may have some … issues. Just know you will never be her SEO knight in shining armor. No matter how well you perform, you too will “do her wrong” eventually – and she’ll add your story to the mix.

Do you really want to get involved with that hot mess?

– The mullet master

“I know a lot about SEO writing. I need doorway pages and article spinning.”

Does your prospect’s site scream 1999? Are they talking to you about doorway pages, keyphrase density and submitting to article directories? Your client could be so stuck in the SEO past that educating them will be a full-time job.

Assuming they listen to you.

Justin Timberlake may be able to bring sexy back, but you won’t be able to bring keyphrase density back. In a perfect world, you’re able to educate your prospect — and she actually listens to you and takes your advice. Unfortunately, many SEO prospects who are stuck in the past stay that way. They like it there. And they’ll keep calling providers until they reach someone who says, “Article directories? I love it! Yes, I can help!”

The “Yeah … but” prospect

“Yeah … but are you really sure that will work? My mother’s uncle’s cousin said I should try something else.”

Feeling like you’re talking to a brick wall? Do you have tiny bald patches from ripping out your hair? You’re talking to the “Yeah … but” prospect.  This person will shoot down any idea you have, even if they called you for help.

Unfortunately, this prospect is so pessimistic that making a decision is impossible. You’ll send proposal after proposal, but none of them will be “right.” Follow-up calls won’t help. Client education won’t help. This prospect is stuck in a deep hole of indecision, and there’s no way to dig them out. Nor will you probably ever sign a gig with them. Walking away is the safest thing you can do for your sanity (and your bottom line.)

– The “Wimpy” client

“I don’t pay deposits. I’ll pay you the entire invoice when the job is complete.”

This is the client who would gladly pay you Tuesday for SEO writing work you do today.  When asked about paying a retainer, their flat answer is “no.” Maybe it’s because they’ve been “burned by a bad SEO provider” (see my earlier point above.) Perhaps it’s not “how accounts payable does things.” That puts you in an uncomfortable situation. If you want the gig, you have to trust that the client will pay you. And pay you on time.

Your response to this type of client should be something along the lines of “No freakin’ way.” Paying a deposit is a standard practice that shouldn’t freak out a possible client. If it does freak them out, that’s a huge red flag. Essentially, the client is asking you to extend them credit and take on all the risk. If things like paying rent and eating are important to you, always get a deposit up front.

The “shiny objects” client

“I need help with my SEO copywri … Look! A squirrel!”

One day, your prospect is pumped about Pinterest. The next, she’s talking about adding new blog content. The following week, she’s changed her strategy entirely and feels it’s time for a redesign. In the meantime, you find yourself sending multiple proposals and spending hours chatting about your prospect’s “cool idea.”

On the positive side, these prospects are incredibly excited about the SEO and marketing opportunities. On the negative side, they often want to implement them all. Right now. And then change their minds.

Shiny-objects clients are notoriously difficult to help. Sometimes, you can pin them down and get them to sign a contract. Just be prepared for lots of forwarded emails promising to “submit your site to 1,000 directories” or “help your guest posts get more exposure.” If something new catches their eye, you’ll be the first to hear about it.

What other SEO writing client types would you add to the list?

9 (more) questions writers ask about SEO copywriting

Would being an SEO copywriter make you smile?

Wondering if you’d be happy as an SEO copywriter?

In a previous blog post, I discussed 9 common questions writers ask about SEO copywriting. But what about SEO copywriting as a career choice? If you’ve wondered how you could find a job as an SEO copywriter – or how you can start a freelance shop – this post is for you.

I originally wrote this post in 2012 and I’ve updated it to reflect other questions I answer every day. Enjoy!

I’m a print copywriter.  Are you sure that I can learn this? Or can an old dog really learn new tricks?

Yes, this is a skill that you can learn and master (check out Lynda Goldman’s interview for a real-life success story.)  Online writing is much different than print copywriting – so there will be a learning curve. At the same time, if you know how to write and connect with your audience, that’s half the battle. The main challenge I see with print copywriters is that they think that SEO copywriting is too “technical” to learn. Here’s how I answer that question …

I’m not a really technical person. Can I still do this?

Yes, you can. It’s true that the more you know about the “techie” side of SEO (and SEO copywriting,) the more opportunities that you’ll have. I highly recommend reading everything you can about SEO (including how to code) and upgrading your skills. Having said that, there are many SEO copywriters who partner with SEO firms. The copywriter writes the copy – and the SEO firm takes care of the “techie stuff.”

There seems to be a lot of SEO copywriters online. Is the market too saturated?

Nope. Granted, if you want business, you’ll have to learn how to market yourself – and ideally, you’ll choose a niche. But there are still many opportunities to make money.

But I’ve heard that SEO copywriting is dead. Is that true?

Nope. Certainly, the SEO writing “rules” have changed. And it’s more important than ever to keep up. But companies (and clients) are still begging for smart SEO writers who can help make them money.

What kind of companies hire in-house SEO copywriters?

All types of companies, including B2B, B2C and publishing companies. If you’re looking to work in-house, think about sites that produce a large amount of content every month – and consider those companies possible employment targets. For instance, ecommerce sites are constantly updating their product pages and blogs. A publishing company may require you to write SEO-optimized articles. Some in-house writers may also create newsletters, emails and white papers. Others focus just on SEO copy. It depends on the employer.

I’ve seen job titles like “Web content writer,” or “SEO content writer.” Is that the same thing?

Yup. There are quite a few different job titles for SEO copywriters. The main thing is choosing a job that fits your skill set. For instance, if you love blogging – but sales pages aren’t fun for you – you’ll want to choose a job that’s more social media related. If you can write high-converting sales pages, you may want to look at jobs that allow you to write landing pages, product pages and service pages.

Can I find a job that can teach me this stuff?

Yes, but don’t expect to get paid a lot. Many companies are looking to turn this over to an “internal expert” – so you’ll make more money if you have training, experience and fantastic clips. Having said that, starting out as a “copywriting assistant,” can fast-track your knowledge. Some of the best copywriters I know had someone helping them expand their skills. The pay may be lower, but the experience will be fantastic!

How can I find clients (or someone who would hire me full time?)

If you’re looking for an in-house job, you can certainly check out online job boards and see what’s out there. However, I recommend getting out there and actively networking – especially within your local community. Many writing jobs are “insider hires” that aren’t posted. The more you can connect with people, the more you’ll learn about secret opportunities and can position yourself as the perfect candidate!

Networking (whether it’s local or on social media) is also important if you want to freelance. In a perfect world, most of your clients come from referrals and you have a steady stream of business. Many freelancers love LinkedIn for copywriting leads. Pam Foster has said that LinkedIn “has been more fruitful … by far, than any other marketing method.” Why not give it a shot?

I want to be my own boss and work as a freelance SEO copywriter instead. How do I do that?

Read my “Ultimate Guide for Beginners.” it will tell you everything that you want to know.

I’ve heard that SEO writing is a low-paying gig. Tell me why I’d want to do this.

It’s true that some companies pay a paltry $5 per blog post. Having said that, some companies pay $250 or more per post – especially if the writer is truly top notch. I know many SEO writers who are happily writing content and making a fantastic living. You won’t make 100K starting out (whether you freelance or work full time.) But you can find clients (and employers) who value great writing. As your skills improve and you can demonstrate results, you can make more money over time. That’s pretty cool.

Wow, I’m sold! I want to quit my job tomorrow and freelance full time. What do you think?

Um, don’t do this. Not unless you have a pretty flush savings account, have clients already lined up, or have other income coming in. No matter how “hot” SEO copywriting is as an opportunity, it takes time to get your business off the ground. Having said that, learning everything you can about running a successful copywriting business will help you make more money, faster. For instance, check out my Copywriting Business Bootcamp classes for all of the topics that you’ll need to master.

Are there other ways I can use my SEO writing skills?

Heck yes. If you ever want to launch a side business, your SEO skills give you a competitive advantage. You’ll know how to drive more traffic and convert it into paying customers. Want to help out a friend who owns a business? Yes, you can do that, too. I’ve even heard of SEO writers bartering their skills for Pilates lessons, haircuts, landscaping … you name it. Plus, if you ever write a book, you can easily build an author platform with your SEO know-how.

Are you sure this is fun?

Oh yeah. It’s really fun. If you enjoy a fast-paced career – and you love working in an ever-changing industry – you’ll love SEO copywriting. If it wasn’t fun, I wouldn’t have been doing this for the last 16 years. :)

Want step-by-step SEO-writing training and personalized help? Check out the SEO Copywriting Certification training!

Freelance writers: How to tame the client from hell

Is this your freelance writing client?

Is this your freelance writing client?

Your client schedules meetings one hour before the start time.

When you tell her a job takes two weeks, she’s demanding her deliverable two days after you start.

Your client doesn’t show up for meetings (even if she scheduled them.) Sometimes she has a (poor) excuse as to why she didn’t show up. Other times, she completely blows you off without any explanation.

It’s easy to call this person the “client from hell.” She has unrealistic expectations, doesn’t respect your time and expects your best work for free. At the end of the workday, you’re cranky and filled with complaints. “I’m a professional. Why does she keep doing this to me?”

Here is your reality check. Your “client from hell” isn’t causing your unhappiness. You are – by letting it happen.

It’s tempting to put up with the behavior because, hey, it’s a client – and who wants to lose money? The issue is: setting boundaries with clients is extremely important. If you haven’t been 100% crystal clear with a client, it’s time to put your big girl (or boy) pants on and deal with the situation head-on.

Here’s how to change the situation:

– Know it’s OK to say “no”

Just because a client wants to meet right now doesn’t mean you have to accommodate them. It’s perfectly acceptable to say, “I’m afraid that I have other obligations at that time. I do have availability tomorrow at X or Y time.” If they want a deliverable earlier than promised, simply reiterate your expected delivery date. Being friendly yet firm can go a long way.

– Yes, you can charge for meeting time

This will change your life. Clients will respect your time much more if they know they’re paying for it. Just make sure that this is in your contract (and yes, you really do need a contract.)

– It’s OK to charge for missed meeting times

I’ll stay on the line for 15 minutes. If the client doesn’t show, I’ll bill them for the time. (I’ll waive the fee if there was an emergency and that’s why the client couldn’t make it.)

– Rush jobs = more money

Many freelance writers charge a 20-50% premium when the client needs a fast turnaround. That way, your time is covered (especially since you’ll have to move your schedule around to accommodate your client,) and your client gets what she needs.

– Out of scope = additional charges

It’s great when a client wants more work. It’s not so great when they don’t expect to pay for it. If the client requests something out of the original project scope, send them an email asking them to authorize the additional charge. Wait until you receive their approval before you start.

Will your client from hell kick back? Maybe. But if they do – and your client is truly driving you nuts – it’s OK to let them go. You’ll find another client to replace them soon.

Here’s what typically happens instead: Meetings are more streamlined. Rush jobs may still happen, but the client is prepared to pay for them. Your “client from hell” transforms into one of your favorite clients.

That’s a wonderful win/win for both parties.

What else would you suggest? How have you handled your own clients from hell (we’ve all had at least one …)

(Special thank you to the LinkedIn SEO Copywriting group for the post inspiration!).

Looking for a low-cost SEO content writing course? Here’s how to claim your spot!

 

 

Handling your copywriting client’s feedback: 5 do’s & don’ts

Dealing with client feedback can be difficult, but you can minimize the painYou’ve done your homework. You’ve interviewed your client. You’ve painstakingly put together the first draft for some new web copy. And then comes the waiting game.

Sometimes you get feedback right away. Sometimes it takes a few days or even weeks. But when that email or copy review call comes around, it’s a critical moment in your relationship with your client and your reputation as a copywriter.

If you want to keep clients happy and maintain your integrity as a writer, you have to strike a balance. Here’s how.

1. Do research thoroughly.

You can avoid a lot of problems with feedback and reduce the rounds of edits by doing as much research as possible up front. Using a standard copywriting questionnaire for the start of each project can help, but be sure to review and reach out to the client if there are any misunderstandings.

Case in point, I received a questionnaire back from a client once and at first glance, everything looked okay. It wasn’t until later when I was working on the web copy that I realized they’d skipped several questions on their target audience. Without this, it was difficult for me to frame their benefits in the right light. Fortunately, there was still plenty of time in my project timeline to have a short call about their audience.

2. Don’t let the client squeeze out more rounds of edits.

The reason for having a questionnaire and documented process from the start is so the client knows what to expect during the project. Two rounds of edits and a final proofreading is the standard clause in all of our engagement letters, and you may want to adopt the same policy.  This way the clients know this from the start, and understand that anything above and beyond these two rounds of edits will be priced at a separate rate.

3. Do be respectful and listen to their feedback.

As difficult as it may be, the client is allowed to come back and say “This sucks.” You have the option of pushing back (see below), but if you handle this moment wrong, you could lose your reputation and possibly future work from this client.

If the client says that they don’t like it, get specific detailed feedback on which areas are not working for them. The first round of edits is going to be more intensive, so expect that. If they aren’t, push for feedback. It’s better to get it during the first round of edits then be hit with lots of feedback later on in the process that undoes all of your hard work.

4. Don’t be afraid to push back on specific portions of the copy.

Even though you should be respectful and listen (or read) feedback, don’t be afraid to push back on some of the edits if they aren’t making sense. Sometimes clients may have a big difference of opinion on what their web copy should say. In my experience, it’s normally of a matter of them wanting to focus on what they do (the features) instead of what they can do for clients (the benefits).

This is where your detailed web copy questionnaire can come in handy again. You can refer back to it and explain that your choices in writing were based on the information they provided: their target audience, their position in the market, their competitors. If this information is incomplete, you need to ask them to fill in the gaps for the next round of copy but stand by what you wrote based on the information provided.

5. Do develop a gut feeling for your style of great copy.

The biggest lesson I’ve learned as a web copywriter is that there are some things I am great at writing about and there are others that I really suck at. No matter how hard I’ve tried to write web copy for life coaches – it ends up being terrible. Those clients were never happy, and neither was I.

Don’t be afraid to turn down a project or refer it out to someone else if it doesn’t feel right. When you develop a good gut feeling for your own writing style and capabilities, you reduce the criticism of your work. You can take a look at a writing opportunity and instantly know whether or not you’ll be able to deliver your best.

What are your do’s and don’ts for the feedback part of the process? How have you learned to develop a thicker skin?

About the Author ~ Courtney Ramirez

Courtney Ramirez is the Director of Content Marketing Strategy for Endurance Marketing. She’s an SEO Copywriter and content marketing specialist who creates clickable content for clients in both B2B and B2C markets. As a proud graduate of SuccessWork’s SEO Copywriting Certification training program, she geeks out on algorithm updates and content marketing metrics. She’s always in the mood for a good cat-based meme. You can connect with Courtney on Google PlusLinkedIn or Twitter.

photo thanks to Rodger McCutcheon (Auckland Photo News)

Learn how to write SEO content your clients (and Google) will love – check into my SEO Copywriting Certification training today!

Make your SEO content shine in search with Schema

SEO expert Carrie Hill shows how using Schema mark-up can be a valuable SEO skill setAs an SEO content writer, you’re constantly looking for ways to expand your offerings and set yourself apart from others in your niche.

While skill and great training can set you apart from a good many, being able to offer marked up content that is search-engine friendly is going to set you apart from 99% of the others.

It is an advanced SEO skill set worth its weight in gold!

Adding Schema.org protocols to the content you write – and that of your clients – can improve ranking results and add some much needed click-through support to search engine listings.

Advising clients to mark up their existing content with address, product, and review or event markup can expand the reach of the SEO content you write and, in turn, increase your freelance copywriting rates accordingly!

A few weeks ago, I gave a presentation to Heather Lloyd-Martin’s SEO Copywriting Certification students and grads about how to use Schema mark-up and its value as a prized SEO copywriting skill set. Here are some of the highlights:

What are the best Schema protocols to learn as an SEO content writer?

First, I recommend you start small.  Learn how to do one type of markup and do it well.

You can write the code for Schema.org and place the code in the Rich Snippets Testing Tool to see if it validates correctly.

Always check your validation before publishing and right after publishing.  (See the tools I like in the “Tools” section below.)

1. Location & Mobile

If your client has a location-based brick-and-mortar business, marking their address up with Schema.org/LocalBusiness markup makes a lot of sense.  It’s one of the easiest schemas to implement and it can affect not only search engine traffic, but I speculate this could help immensely with Mobile search in the future.

If you use Google Now, and are familiar with their “card’ system – you can see how data that is structured could be very useful to search engines and other local search websites.

Use this code by copying and pasting into a text editor like Notepad and replacing the generic text with your clients’ data:

<div itemscope itemtype=”http://schema.org/LocalBusiness”>

<a itemprop=”url” href=”http://www.ClientWebsite.com”><div itemprop=”name”><strong>Client’s Company Name Here</strong></div>

</a>

<div itemprop=”description”>A short description here – maybe 1-2 sentences. You CAN leave this out, but it helps if you can use keywords and the city state in the description</div>

<div itemprop=”address” itemscope itemtype=”http://schema.org/PostalAddress”>

<span itemprop=”streetAddress”>1234 Oak Street, Suite 444</span><br>

<span itemprop=”addressLocality”>Anytown, </span><span itemprop=”addressRegion”>CO </span><span itemprop=”postalCode”>55555  </span><span itemprop=”addressCountry”>USA</span><br>

<div itemprop=”telephone”>555-123-4567</div>

</div>

</div>

2. E-Commerce Product Descriptions

Many writers are contracted to write new products descriptions for their clients.  Adding the markup to outline a product with Schema.org/Product or Schema.org/Offer code can help your client’s product stand out from the pack.

To go along with product and offer schema, review schema will add the rating stars to the search engine result listing, which can have a big impact on click through rates:

Bunn Thermal Coffee Maker

 

 

 

 

3. Events

Event markup is a fairly easy process, but is done rarely, and surprisingly  – not very well.

There are a handful of event companies and directories that do it right (check out Eventful.com for a good example) and that lack of accuracy is an opportunity for you.

Are you writing content about an event your client is putting together? Creating a listing that has an enhanced look in the search engine results is a great side –benefit.

You can see from the example below how useful that would be to the viewer:

Upcoming Events:Colorado

 

 

 

 

 

Essential Tools to Use

 

Closing Thoughts

This is an opportunity for you as an SEO copywriter to set yourself apart from your competition!

Some of the implementation of the Schema.org markup may take collaboration with the clients’ website teams, but the results could definitely be worth the effort.

You may consider offering the first bit of markup as a “freebie” to show the benefits with regards to ranking and click-through, proving to the client the value behind your expertise.

However you approach it, knowing more about how to make content rank well, and achieve a larger number of clicks, can only enhance your reputation as an SEO content writer.

 

About the Author ~ Carrie Hill

Carrie Hill is the Director of Online Marketing for KeyRelevance, LLC.  She specializes in technical SEO and social media – and absolutely loves email marketing.  She is also a regular author for SEMClubhouse.com.  When not immersed in all things search, she’s a big fan of hanging with her kiddos, reading, cooking, gardening.  Find Carrie on Twitter @CarrieHill or on Google+.

image thanks to crazyseo20 (Crazy Seo)

Learn the latest SEO copywriting skills straight from top SEO experts like Carrie Hill with the SEO Copywriting Certification training program – now 20% off through June 1st with code CELEBRATE

 

 

SEO client education: It’s your most important job

Client education is an SEO professional's most important jobIt doesn’t matter if you’re an SEO consultant, SEO copywriter, content writer, or social media coordinator that reads keyword reports – if you are helping clients with SEO, client education is your most important job.

In fact, I’d wager that if you’re struggling in your business as an SEO provider, client education is the missing piece.

Client education and managing expectations go hand in hand.

What do I mean by education? It can take many different forms, but the goal is to help your client get up to speed on what you provide, why you provide it, and how they’ll benefit. It’s not a sales page or a sales call. It’s helpful information that makes them a smarter buyer.

When I’ve had a difficult client relationship in my business, nine times out of ten it’s been because of a big difference between what the client expected and what I was able to provide. For example, as a copywriter, I can’t build your backlink profile or improve your offpage SEO. But I can make it easier for search engines to understand your site – and help your site visitors get where they need to go.

Client education is important in any industry – but it’s absolutely essential with SEO. Search engine optimization is complicated – and it’s always changing. Although the core of the process is growing a bit easier and less fragmented (pick your keywords, create great content and stay social), there is still enough change from update to update and from year to year for clients to get confused.

These changes can be jumped on by less than scrupulous providers to make a mountain out of a molehill. For example, when Panda and Penguin hit, questionable backlinks became the biggest problem. Unless a client has been paying someone to post backlinks to large, spammy directories there’s no reason they should be spending their time and their money on devaluing links when there aren’t many there begin with. They’d be far better off creating some great content and getting social to build genuine backlinks.

Since there are so many factors that go into SEO and some scum bags out there that are misleading their clients (either intentionally or unintentionally), your job as an educator becomes even more important.

Here’s how to do it, in three steps:

1. Always start the process with an intake call.

Do you get a lot of emails that look something like this: “Hi – I need some web copy. How much do you charge?”

Delivering a paragraph or two back with a quote isn’t going to have the impact that an official intake will. Start your relationship with a conversation so you can understand their SEO needs and determine if they need you, or another type of provider. This will also help you set the framework for how you are working together and let you explain the specific value that you provide.

2. Rather than being a service provider, think of yourself as a consultant.

It’s a subtle shift but an important one if you want to educate your client and take a more strategic role. When you’re “just a service provider” a client will expect to come to you, place an order and then get exactly what they ordered – no questions asked. These are the clients that will come to you saying “Here’s my keyword list and I want a blog article on X, Y and Z.”

But when you present yourself as a consultant, you’ll leave the door open to explain to them why jumping into blogging without a strategy is a bad idea. You can give them insight into how to make their pages better before they blog, how to create a blog strategy and how to improve their overall presence.

3. Produce lots of content – and then produce some more!

When it comes to copywriters and content, it’s often like the old story about the shoemaker’s children having no shoes. If your work days are filled with work for clients, how will you find time for your own work? Make time!

If you want to provide education for your SEO clients, you need to blog, create white papers and develop newsletters. It doesn’t have to be extensive, but it does have to be there. This way, your SEO clients are prequalified and educated before they reach out. They know the difference between bad SEO and good SEO because they’ve read it on your blog.

What steps are you taking to educate your clients?

About the Author ~ Courtney Ramirez

Courtney Ramirez is the Director of Content Marketing Strategy for Endurance Marketing and owner of Six Degrees Content. She’s an SEO Copywriter and content marketing specialist who creates clickable content for clients in both B2B and B2C markets. As a proud graduate of SuccessWork’s SEO Copywriting Certification training program, she geeks out on algorithm updates and content marketing metrics. She’s always in the mood for a good cat-based meme. You can connect with Courtney on Google PlusLinkedIn or Twitter.

image thanks to Digital Sextant (Brendan Riley)

7 tips for sales call success

successful sales callIt’s time to call your dream prospect and sell her on your freelance copywriting services. What do you do first?

Breathe, relax and pull out your notes.

Last week’s blog post outlined how to prepare for a prospect call. Today, it’s time to pull out your notes, get on the phone and close the deal. Nervous? These seven tips will help get you through – and guarantee the call goes well.

– Spend a few minutes getting to know the prospect. A little small talk can go a long way. Sure, you’re both busy – but chatting about the weather, favorite restaurants or the latest Mad Men episode can be a great way to bond. Launching right into business-chat (unless the prospect does first) can seem abrupt. I once landed a client by chatting about Vanilla Ice. Really.

– Ask a lot of questions – and listen to the answers. What’s the best thing you can do during a sales call? Keep your mouth shut and take detailed notes. When you do speak, try to wrap your questions around your prospect’s previous response. For instance, you could say, “You mentioned that your copywriting team is already overloaded. How many new projects are you assigned every week?” That way, the client knows that you’re “hearing” them – and you get valuable information that helps you frame your next question.

– Don’t allow yourself to get stuck in the “Can you send me a highly detailed proposal outlining exactly what you’ll do” trap. I know it’s tempting to spend hours slaving over a multi-page document. That’s not a proposal. That’s a strategy document. Sure, you can point out some possible SEO writing opportunities. But if your contact is asking for an in-depth, detailed document, let your prospect know that’s a separate deliverable. Here are some ways to turn around a (good) proposal fast.

– If asked, confidently state your rates. This is where some copywriters get tongue-tied. If you’re not sure how much the project will cost, it’s OK to say, “I have to work on some numbers and get back to you.” If the prospect pushes for a general answer, you can always provide a highly general range (here are some ways to handle the “how much do you charge” discussion.) If your prices are too high for your prospect and you don’t see a “match,” refer them to another (lower-priced) vendor. And please don’t discount your rates just because you’re afraid of losing the gig. There are other ways to do it besides costing yourself cash.

– Is your prospect unsure? Help them break down the numbers and imagine success. Some clients know they need help – they just need a little confidence boost. If your client says things like, “Wow, $1,000 is a lot of money – I’m not sure if I can afford you,” start asking questions like, “What’s the lifetime value of a customer” and “what’s your average sale?” Chances are, you’ll be able to counter with a statement like, “If the average lifetime value of a customer is $700, it will take less than two customers to pay for my services – and I’m sure I can pull more than two customers for you.” In one fast sentence, you’ve overcome your prospect’s objection and made hiring you a no-brainer!

– Are you getting a “I can’t make a decision right now” response? It happens. Ask your prospect if you should chat with anyone else involved in the hiring decision. For instance, your contact may need her boss’ sign off before she gives her answer. If you can be in on the “pitch” call between your contact and her boss, you can answer any questions and speak directly to the decision maker.

– No matter what happens, send a “thank you” note. Whether the answer is “yes,” “no,” “call back in six months” or “I’m not sure” – email a thank you note the next day. Why? Good manners never go out of style. Plus, your prospect will remember you for other gigs. That’s the best kind of networking there is.

 

Can’t attend my May 22nd Phoenix seminar but you want to learn more about SEO copywriting? Check out my industry-endorsed (and all-online) SEO Copywriting Certification training 

 

 

 

How to stop worrying about Google updates…

…and learn to love writing really great SEO copy!

Greetings & welcome back! In today’s SEO copywriting video how-to, Heather discusses a most timely topic since Matt Cutts’ recent, ominous-sounding pronouncement that the next Google Penguin update will be “jarring” to SEO’s and Webmasters – and that is, how to stop worrying about Google updates and start writing really great SEO copy!

Tune in and learn how to set yourself free…

Fear is counterproductive

The thing is, around all the Google updates and the stress that comes with them, that fear is really counterproductive.

  • Get out of the learned helplessness trap!
  • Google updates are not an excuse to stop writing content.
  • Think of this as an OPPORTUNITY. Good content is still good for Google.

What this fear of Google updates does is get a lot of companies stuck in this learned helplessness trap: they don’t know what Google is going to do next and so they use that as an excuse to stop writing content. They completely freak out within the organization!

But instead of being all fearful about what Google is going to do next, think of what’s going on as an opportunity: Good content is still good for Google.

I know that it’s not sexy news, but there are a number of sites out there that never got penalized by either Panda or Penguin – they came through just fine! And that could be you.

The key is to focus on what your customers and readers are looking for, and stop focusing so much on what you think Google might want!

Focus on making your content better

So think of ways you can focus on making your content better, and this will help you ride through those algorithmic updates. Ask yourself these questions:

  • What questions do our prospects/customers ask? Do we answer them on the site?

That’s a great way to be able to get folks to come to your site that might not know anything about you! You might also want to ask…

  • Does our content really represent our company?

I’ve talked with a number of people who’ve said: “Yeah, we don’t really love the content that’s there – it doesn’t really sound likes us – but it’s what we have, so we’re stuck with it.”

No! You’re not stuck with it! If it doesn’t represent your company, then change it!

  • How can we create quality content within our organization?

If you’re not satisfied that your website copy represents your company, you can change it either in-house, and write that quality content within your organization, or if you are maxed out internally and that’s not an option – then outsource it!

Find someone you can trust to work with: just last week, I talked about how to find a (Google-savvy) SEO copywriter.

  • Do we have low quality content on the site that we need to fix?

You might also want to evaluate your site and see if you have low quality content that you need to fix.

On the lower left-hand side of the slide there is a link to an article written by Jill Whalen about other types of low quality content – those things you might want to evaluate on your own site to see if it’s something that you might want to tweak.

And…

  • You also want to look at your analytics!
  • Think of ways to increase your conversion rates!

Wouldn’t it be better to focus on “how can we drive more sales?” and think of ways that you’re able to do so, rather than “Oh my goodness, what is Google going to do next?”

Because at the end of the day, Google does not pay your bills – your customers do.

So if you can figure out how your content can make your site more money, then that is a much better discussion to have than “Oh my goodness, what is the next update going to do to our site?”

Focus your content around your readers, and when the next update rolls around, then you are probably going to be much more relaxed about it, because you’re coming at it from a different angle – rather than trying to tweak your content to fit what you think Google wants today.

That said…if you have questions about what Google wants and are looking for a checklist for evaluating your content, simply sign up for my free weekly SEO Copywriting Buzz newsletter, and/or choose to receive daily blog post updates, and receive my free “How to write for Google” whitepaper!

Thanks so much for tuning into today’s SEO copywriting video how-to!

As always, if you have any questions at all, or if you are interested in the SEO Copywriting Certification training, please let me know – I’m happy to help! I can be reached via [email protected], or via Twitter @heatherlloyd.

 

photo thanks to marklarson  (Mark Larson)

 

 

Last call for SEO Copywriting Certification scholarship contest entries: if you haven’t entered to win a full scholarship to the SEO Copywriting Certification training yet, you have until 11:59 p.m. Eastern today to do so! Enter now at: Win an SEO Copywriting Certification Scholarship!

And remember – you have absolutely nothing to lose! Everyone who enters receives 20% off the certification training, plus 10% off the Copywriting Business Bootcamp training, through September 7th!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Is your B2B content choking on red tape?

One of the biggest challenges facing B2B marketers today is content creation. Long term SEO success demands a consistent creation of quality, informative content—blog posts, articles, white papers, webinars and so forth.

Since most B2B marketers seem to constantly struggle with content creation, many are worried their industry might be too “boring” to write much about: it doesn’t make sense to make your content marketing efforts any more complicated and convoluted by adding layers of red tape and multiple chains of command into the process.

I was speaking with an SEO client of mine the other day who is the Marketing Director for a software company. While she completely understands the importance of content and how it helps propel a B2B SEO campaign forward, her management (that doesn’t come from a marketing background) isn’t always on the same page.

Like most higher-ups in just about every company, they want to see the right numbers:

  • How many visitors is their site getting each month?
  • Where is the site ranking for priority keywords in the SERPs?
  • How much new business can be attributed to SEO?

It’s difficult for my client to explain to her management that without a strong content marketing campaign to help push their SEO along their efforts are going to plateau.

Since content creation isn’t a high priority for her management, both her and my hands are kind of tied behind our backs. Their content funnel had dried up to the point where I offered to have my SEO team write blog posts for them, using old white papers and webinars as a guide, which she could have her team approve and publish.

While she was completely behind the idea because it saved her time and effort, it actually added another layer of red tape to the situation. Since my writers aren’t experts in their industry, her management was concerned about the validity of the content; they wanted to be sure we didn’t write anything untrue (even though we were using their previously published material as our source).

So every blog post my team created had to go up various chains of command, get tweaked and edited (a process that sometimes took weeks), then kicked backed to us for revision. Once we made the necessary changes the process began again.

It was taking weeks, if not months, to get a single blog post approved! Since they weren’t publishing content on their own this meant their content marketing efforts were essentially non-existent and their SEO was hurting because of it.

While I completely understand that most businesses have a chain of command, you can’t let that interfere with your content marketing efforts so much that it brings your campaigns to a standstill!

I had a startup client that was so concerned with making every blog post “perfect” that nothing ever got published. Since they were in a demand generation mode, a strong content marketing campaign was critical to helping introduce not only their brand but also their terminology to their target audience.

Without consistent content creation their brand wasn’t getting the attention it deserved. I kept telling this client, at some point you have to let your content out the door. Even if it’s not “perfect,” if it’s well-written and informative it’s worth publishing.

Content marketing is so important for not only your SEO, but also your social media marketing and online marketing efforts as a whole, that you can’t afford to let red tape hold you back! There are enough obstacles to SEO success to overcome without having to worry about internal politics holding your content marketing efforts back.

About the Author ~ Nick Stamoulis

Nick Stamoulis is the President of the Boston Massachusetts SEO firm, Brick Marketing.  With 13 years of experience, Nick Stamoulis shares his knowledge by writing in the Brick Marketing Blog, and publishing the Brick Marketing SEO Newsletter, read by over 150,000 opt-in subscribers. You can find Nick Stamoulis on Twitter at:  http://twitter.com/NickStamoulis  and [email protected].

Would you like to learn more about SEO copywriting & content marketing? Heather Lloyd-Martin’s SEO Copywriting Certification program is the only online training offering certification, and independently endorsed by the SEO industry!

Photo thanks to frankh (Frank Hebbert)  

The SEO copywriter’s guide to dealing with clients

Greetings and welcome to another “slice of Heather”! This slice is especially yummy if you’re a freelance SEO copywriter dealing with, ah, difficult clients, or otherwise facing any of those tricky client relation issues that require patience, understanding, anger management, and some client education.

From explaining SEO copywriting to clueless clients to handling their mangling of your best writing, here are sage tips from the woman who has been there and back. A few times.

 

How to explain SEO copywriting to clients

“Clients – both small and large businesses – may think of SEO copywriting as “keyword spamming” and want nothing to do with it. Sure, they know they need good content. But where they get confused is what good SEO copy looks like. Maybe that’s because all they’ve seen is bad copy. Or maybe that’s because although content is crucial, it’s not necessarily valued: “We love what content does for us. But we want it cheap.”

Savvy tips to help you explain what GOOD SEO copywriting is to wary, misinformed (or cheap, or otherwise difficult) clients.

 

Your client is wrong. Now what?

“What should you do if your client insists on their suspect SEO strategy after you’ve tried to talk them out of it? You may want to walk away from the gig. Or, if the strategy isn’t too bad, you could still work the gig and do your best. The way you deal with it will depend on the client and the situation.  It’s never an easy decision to make – especially when you know that your options are “walk away” or “I’ll never be able to include this work in my client portfolio…”

Here are some smart strategies to deal with this thorny situation.

 

8 ways to handle the haters

“Dealing with unhappy clients can be scary, frustrating and maddening. But remember, if you handle the situation quickly – and take the time to really hear your client’s needs – you can save the gig. Plus – like what happened to me 15 years ago – you may even get more work because the client liked the way you handled the situation. What a great way to transform a stressful problem into a profitable, happy client relationship!”

Follow these steps for dealing with the discontents.

 

6 ways to handle it when a client changes your copywriting

“Talk about frustrating.

“You thought what you wrote showcased your best work ever. You expertly followed your client’s content marketing strategy. You chose good keyphrases. And when you finished writing your SEO copywriting masterpiece, you could almost hear the harp music playing softly and feel the sunshine on your face.  Your copy didn’t just sound good.  It sung.

Then a week later, you see what the client actually uploaded. All of your tricky turn-of-phrases were gone. Your Title was changed from a compelling statement to a list of keyphrases. And your headline…you can’t even look at what they did to your headline. You aren’t just mad. You’re hurt. How could they destroy your copywriting baby like that?”

Sound familiar? Here are six ways to handle the head/heartache.

 

3 ways SEO can ruin content

“Smart SEO doesn’t ruin good content. It enhances it, in fact – making it easier to be found in search engines and shared via social media. If you’ve mastered the art of online writing for both engines and people, you have a very valuable skill set. On the flip side, yes, stupid SEO will ruin content. And your conversions, too.”

Avoid these three glaring examples of truly bad SEO. Please.

 

Looking for low-cost SEO copywriting training? Learn more about the SuccessWorks SEO Copywriting Certification Program, designed for in-house marketing professionals, agencies, SEO shops and copywriters.

 

photo thanks to Pink Sherbet Photography (D. Sharon Pruitt)