How to find a Google-savvy SEO copywriter
Greetings! In today’s SEO copywriting video post, Heather addresses a topic that is very important if you are looking to hire an SEO copywriter, which is: how to find an SEO copywriter who won’t screw up your Google listings.
As you know, Google has made a lot of changes to its algorithm, and those changes have been largely focused on content quality, so the key to hiring an SEO copywriter is finding someone who is keeping up to date with all of what Google is doing.
So yes, you want your new hire to be an excellent writer, and yes, you want them to understand conversion theory and how to get people to take action, and how to write content that is shareable, but you also want to make sure that they know how to stay on Google’s good side!
Here’s how to do it:
Review their writing
The first thing you want to do is review their writing.
Always ask for clips, and not just from one client, but from a variety of clients that they’ve worked with.
- Look at their Website. Do they even have a Website?
- Are their articles well written? Or do they look like they were written quickly?
- Would you consider their articles to be a valuable resource?
- Do they repeat the same words over and over?
You want to see if their articles are well written. In judging this, think of their articles as if you were scanning the Web and just happened to land on one of their articles. Would you want to delve in and read more, or does it look like the article was written hastily?
You also want to get a sense for how they integrate keyphrases into the copy. If you are able to “catch” the keyphrases very easily, and it appears that the same word (or phrase) is being repeated over and over again: huge red flag!
And of course, you also want to look at their own website, and see how the copywriter has worked with an optimizer on-site.
If they don’t have a website and they are an SEO copywriter, that might also be a red flag because that’s a basic foundational step for an SEO copywriter – to have their own (well written and well optimized) site.
Ask about their process
The second thing you want to do is get on the phone with them and ask them about their process.
Ask something like: “Let’s say we sign the contract today – what would you need from me in order to get started? What is the process for how you write Web pages?”
Note their answers and beware these danger signs – the things you do not want to hear in response to your questions.
“Danger signs” include:
- “Every article is X words for Google.”
You do not want to hear something like: “Well, every article I write is 500 words. I write that way for Google because that’s what Google wants.”
Wrong. That’s not what Google wants – that’s a myth that’s out there.
- “Every article has a X percent keyphrase density.”
You also don’t want to hear the words “keyphrase density” come out of their mouth. Even Google’s head of spam, Matt Cutts, has come out and said there is no such thing.
- The copywriter doesn’t ask about your target market or conversion goals.
You also want to pay attention to what questions the copywriter is asking you: are they asking about your conversion goals and your target market, or are they saying something like “When we sign the contract, then we will have a kick-off called ‘We’ll ask you a lot of questions’”?
If they are not asking these kinds of questions, that means that the content they’re writing is not going to be good for you: it will probably be too general, it’s not going to fit your target market because they didn’t ask what it was, and it won’t fit your conversion goals.
So make sure that the copywriter is asking you really good questions, as well!
Ask about the latest Google updates
The final thing you want to do is ask them about the latest Google updates.
Ask something like: “Well, so can explain a little bit about what Google has been doing lately with their algorithm updates? I’ve heard about this Panda and Penguin thing – what does that mean?”
- If the copywriter can’t clearly explain Google’s Panda and Penguin updates…
- Run away.
- Run quickly.
You want someone who actually knows the answers. If they can’t clearly explain what Panda and Penguin mean to the SEO industry and to content generation, it’s time for you to run away, and run away quickly, because these are things that any experienced SEO copywriter should know about.
If they do not know, that means that they are not keeping up with the industry, and that can come back to bite you later!
Thanks for tuning in to today’s video how-to! If you have any questions or topic suggestions for Heather, please let her know: email firstname.lastname@example.org, or tweet her @heatherlloyd. (And she’d love to know what you think about the new site design!)
Be sure to check back next week for the next webinar – see you then!
photo thanks to dannysullivan (Danny Sullivan)
You’re invited! This Wednesday, August 22nd, Heather will be holding an open SEO copywriting Q & A at noon Pacific / 3pm Eastern. Email our Heather G. for call-in information: email@example.com. Look forward to “seeing” you there!
Also, there’s one more week left to enter our contest to win a full scholarship to the SEO Copywriting Certification training – see Win an SEO Copywriting Certification Scholarship! for details!
Awesome post, Heather & Laura! So true about a dogmatic approach being a danger sign.
The sad part is that the people who most need to know the right questions to ask probably won’t ever be reading blog articles!
LOL – so true. Hopefully, the post has been shared enough that folks who NEED this information will see it. If I can save at least one client from hiring a bad SEO copywriter, I will be happy. :)
Great article, Laura. I need to blog about why homegrown copy written by business owners just may not cut it anymore, and this will make a great resource as I encourage people to hire a professional to write their copy.
Bill, hi! Thanks for your comment & so glad this can help you build your case! Good luck!
Hate to admit it, Heather, but I get Panda and Penguin mixed up … in part, because they have never affected my clients, so I didn’t pay that much attention to them. Oh, yes, I read up about them and noted that their descriptions didn’t describe what I do … so I didn’t worry about it. But now I guess I had better get them straight since you’ve warned everyone!!!! Nice new site! Congrats!
@Katherine – that’s the WONDERFUL thing about writing good, high-quality content. Yes, Google will do its thing…but good content typically always wins. :)
Thanks for the new site kudos! We’re really happy with it too! :)
Great tips Heather! I used to read your SEO newsletter years ago (we’re talking 2001 when you were writing with Jill Whalen). I have read a few of your articles over the past few years but not regularly, so I just signed up for your newsletter again and look forward to it. You raise a great point about keeping up-to-date, SEO has changed a lot over the years and often my website owners read articles with out-dated or debunked SEO information (like “keyword density”) and end up having poor results.
It’s great to “see” you again! Thanks for writing and letting me know that you signed up for my newsletter. Your “blast from the past” email made my morning! :)
A very very very useful post both for copywriters and for those who are searching for ones :) It is essential that everybody wants to find a copywrirer who will know what to do better than yourself. It is a matter of a talent to write both interesting and selling texts. Not all copywriters cope with it.
Great post I loved the first point that we should see if he is a SEO copywriter or just a writer. And we must also check their previous works and ask their clients as well if they were satisfied with working with him or not.
It was a really superb post.
Thanks for sharing it with us :)
Great suggestions made out here… I would say with Google focussing more on quality content it becomes more than important to get the right person writing your contents…