SEO copywriting 101: A guide for clients

SEO Copywriting 101Whether you’re hiring copywriters in-house, or outsourcing to freelancers,  finding and working with SEO copywriters can be challenging – and a little bit scary, too.

First, you have to find the “perfect person” who will make your Web copy sing. Once you’ve found the perfect person, you have to give them direction, evaluate their content and make sure that it’s right for your site.

If you don’t know SEO, the entire process is confusing. How can you figure out who to hire? How do you get the SEO content quality you need?

If you need to hire a copywriter, this guide is for you. Here’s what to do.

How to hire the perfect in-house or freelance SEO copywriter

Looking for an SEO copywriter? Whether you’re looking to hire in-house or outsource, it’s tempting to ask, “How much do you charge,” and go from there. That can be a dangerous mistake. Would you work with an attorney because she was the cheapest around? Or a doctor? Heck no. Rather than focusing on price, focus on results and reputation. That way, you’ll find the right vendor (or employee) for your needs. (If you’re wondering how an SEO copywriter can help you, here’s a great resource.)

Many smaller businesses prefer to outsource their SEO copy. You can outsource to a freelance SEO copywriter, or sometimes your SEO company has someone on staff. Larger businesses – or companies that kick out a lot of content – may be better served with an in-house hire.

Questions to ask are:

  • What kind of experience do you have (here’s some guidance on working with a newbie and an intermediate SEO copywriter.)
  • If you’re outsourcing, ask the writer if she will be writing the content? Or will someone else?
  • What’s your process? If the copywriter doesn’t say, “I’ll need to start by asking a bunch of questions,” that’s a huge red flag.
  • Do you know how to write to sell (called direct response copywriting.) Or, are you primarily a blogger? There is a big difference between the two styles, so make sure you ask.
  • Can I see case studies and testimonials?

And here are some other questions to ask to get the best quote.

You also want to consider if you need a copywriter or a content strategist.  Here’s the difference between the two job descriptions.

You’ve found the perfect copywriter? Great. Here’s how to get started…

If you are giving the SEO copywriter direction, you want to give them the right direction. Where a lot of good campaigns go bad is when the client dictates the article length and makeup based on SEO copywriting myths and misconceptions.

Beware the SEO copywriting myths, such as:

Plan to spend quite a bit of meeting time with your new copywriter so you can explain your unique sales proposition, your customer persona and what’s important to your customers. Your copywriter will also bombard you with a list of questions (here’s a list of 52 questions your copywriter may ask.)

This part of the process will take some time. You may be tempted to skip this step and think, “He’s smart. He’ll ‘get it’ and write great copy.” Don’t do it. Spend the time to get your writer up to speed. Your copy will be much better for it.

Your writer completed her first rough draft. Here’s how to evaluate it.

The most important question you can ask is, “Does the content make me want to buy?” If the answer is, “Meh,” that alone may dictate a rewrite. Whether your copywriter is writing sales copy or posts for your blog, the writing should showcase your benefits, be engaging and – yes – include keyphrases. Here’s some things to consider.

Now that you know exactly what to do, you can safely find the right in-house or freelance SEO copywriter who meets your needs – and start gaining benefit from well-written content. What could be better?

3 replies
  1. Emma says:

    You spelled out the finer nuances and pragmatic points of the SEO copywriter hunt so splendidly, Heather. As with almost any sort of writing, I think the knee jerk reaction from, well, jerks, is to dismiss writing (or to write it off… wow, I’m on a roll) as a secondary action; something that anyone who can talk can also perform. Not true, by any stretch of the imagination. And SEO copywriting is another extension of a difficult but effective practice that few can do really, really well.

    Be selective, be knowledgeable, and seek out individuals at the top of their game.

  2. Heather says:

    Exactly. I know so many clients who really do want to hire an SEO copywriter – they just have no idea how to find the right person. Being “selective and knowledgeable” is the smartest move clients can make.


Trackbacks & Pingbacks

  1. Quora says:

    What is the best way to outsource website content?…

    This is a great question. Your copywriter reflects your brand, so you want to find a good “fit.”. There are many freelance copywriters – and some of them are more qualified than others – so it’s smart to look around and ask a lot of questions. I rec…

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