When to run away from an SEO copywriting company

Running away from an SEO copywriting firmWondering if you should hire a certain SEO copywriting company?

Maybe…depending on what questions they ask you.

Recently, I spoke with someone who had just hired an SEO content development firm.  This person really needed an SEO win – and he hoped adding content would help.

But here’s the problem.

There was no SEO content plan, other than “adding pages.”

There wasn’t a keyphrase strategy document.

Instead, they were going to “write pages” to “see if it helped in Google.”

:Insert sound of my head hitting my desk repeatedly.::

I don’t blame the client – he was doing what he could with the budget he had (and didn’t know any better.) What’s frustrating is when a SEO content company fails to address the educational basics. Sure, they made the sale – but will the pages really help the client?

Probably not – at least not without some sort of strategy and keyword focus in place.

So here’s the deal – when you’re hiring an SEO copywriting firm, it’s definitely a “buyer beware” situation. Some firms are awesome and do a great job. Some firms outsource the content to college students and have little (if any) quality control. It’s up to you to separate the good writers from the ones who merely say they’re good.

Here’s a list of questions any good SEO content firm will ask. They may ask some of these questions during the sales call – and others once you’ve signed. The point is: If the company is all that and a bag of chips, they will be asking a lot of questions.

If the prospective vendor fails to address most – if not all – of these points – run, run fast, and keep running. They won’t know enough about your company (and your content strategy) to do a good job.

–  Will we receive a keyphrase list and a per-page keyphrase strategy? (Note: If you don’t have a keyphrase list, a good company should offer to run the keyphrases for you and develop a strategy for an additional fee.)

– What’s your current content strategy and why?

–  Who is your target customer?

–  What companies represent your main online competition?

– What tone and feel (or “voice”) resonates with your target audience ? Can I see an example?

–  What’s the main conversion goal for the page? Do you have a secondary conversion goal (such as a newsletter signup page?).

– What are the main benefits of your product or service?

– What pages are currently doing well in Google now?

– What’s worked in the past? What approach hasn’t worked?

– What pages have the highest bounce rates? Why do you think that is?

– What makes your company unique? Why should people work with you?

– What information is crucial to include?

SEO copywriting is more than just putting words on a page. It’s creating a content strategy, researching keyphrases and writing content that prompts the reader to take action. If your SEO copywriting company isn’t asking some key questions, it’s time to find another provider. Fast.

Trust me. You’ll be glad you did.

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5 replies
  1. Alison Cummings says:

    Heather, great post! It saddens (and angers me) to hear horror stories from clients about, well, SEO charlatans.

    A challenge for reputable SEO copywriters/consultants is to involve, but not overwhelm, the client. I think it’s important to familiarize clients with how SEO copywriting works to promote their engagement and also their understanding that SEO is an ongoing process vs a one-time thing. It’s important to work with the client to 1) define objectives, 2) set performance goals, 3) monitor 4) measure results 5) analyze outcome and 6) take learning and apply to step 1 to start process again.

    And throughout, keep eyes and ears open for new technologies, new developments to consider in the mix. Also, keep up with the latest from industry thought leaders. ;)


  2. Heather Lloyd-Martin says:

    You’re exactly right, @Alison!

    Education is especially important since many clients don’t know what SEO copywriting really is. They may know that they need a writer – but they don’t know the SEO writer’s role in lead generation, getting good Google rankings – heck, even if a prospect thinks a company is trustworthy (or not!)

    Involving the client in the process – and helping them understand the goals, results (and what constitutes success) is definitely crucial.

    Thanks for your comment! :)

  3. Hashim Warren says:

    I start out with a Content Strategy Canvas and get my client to fill in all of the boxes as best they can.

    It’s an illuminating exercise for both parties. And it’s absolutely necessary for starting a project.


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