Yes, you do need an SEO copywriting strategy. Here’s why
You suddenly decide to move to Chicago. Instead of lining up a job and doing your due diligence, you immediately jump in the car and start driving. You don’t take anything with you. Nor do you check Google Maps and figure out your route. You just point the car and go.
Would you make it to Chicago? Eventually. Would you make a lot of wrong turns (and probably cost yourself a bunch of money along the way?) Most likely. And you still wouldn’t have the results you wanted (a great paying job.)
This analogy reminds me of clients who don’t have an SEO copywriting strategy. They may know what they want (higher rankings and better conversions.) But they don’t have a plan to make it happen. They don’t revise their keyphrase research, check their customer persona and ask questions. Instead, they rewrite a bunch of pages hoping that something will do the trick.
When the results aren’t what they want, they blame the writer. Or they blame Google. Or their competition. But they very rarely point the finger at themselves and admit, “Yeah, we didn’t really know what we were doing.”
If this sounds familiar, it’s time to take a step back. When you’re moving to a new city, “taking a step back” means planning your driving route and making some initial employer contacts. When it’s around your website, it means asking questions and doing research.
Here are some SEO copywriting questions to ask:
– Are the current pages converting? If not, why do you think that is?
– What is the per-page keyphrase research strategy? When’s the last time you researched your keyphrases?
– What are the overarching company benefits? What about the specific product/service benefits?
– Who is coming to this page? Is it an admin assistant who is gathering information for his supervisor? A time-challenged COO? What do they need to see to feel comfortable with the content?
– What phase of the buy cycle is your prospect in when they reach a certain landing page?
– What do you want people to do when they reach your landing page? Is there a secondary goal (like subscribing to your newsletter?).
– What are the upsell opportunities?
– What products/services make your company the most money?
Getting good answers to these questions takes time – it’s not something you can accomplish in a couple hours. Having said that, if you’re planning to outsource, it’s a great way of separating the so-so copywriters from the smart ones. Good copywriters won’t start writing without an SEO copywriting strategy in place – they know the results won’t be what you want.
(As a side note, master SEO copywriters can often handle this phase for you. It can be useful to have someone outside your company create your campaign.)
Your SEO copywriting campaign is important. Take the time, develop an air-tight strategy and do it right.
You’ll be glad you did.
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Great advice! I’m working on rewriting all the content for a non-profit and I started the process with my SEO copywriting book from your program. I spent hours researching key word phrases and had several client meetings to review the phrases. Now I’m ready to start writing! Thanks for the reminder.
You are very welcome!
And thank you for the reminder of how long good keyphrase research can take! Some people want to get it out of the way in 30 minutes or less – and it’s just not like that. To do a good job, you have to be very detailed and thorough!
Great “seeing” you here! Thanks for your note!
Yes! Right on the money. It’s all about conversion. Just as copy should be. ;-)
EXACTLY! Good SEO content has *always* been about conversion. Unfortunately, people still believe that it’s about keywords – or Google – or a nonsensical density percentage. At the end of the day, the question to ask is, “Is the content making me money” (or whatever the main conversion goal is.) If the answer is not just “yes” but “heck yes,” you’ve done your job. :)
Thanks, Glenn! It’s great to “see” you here! :)
FABULOUS advice, Heather! This post really hits the mark, especially for those who don’t know much about website copy but think they can wing it themselves.
A MUST-READ post for every business owner and compelling message that it really pays to first develop an air-tight SEO copywriting strategy!
Thanks, @Pat! I’m glad you enjoyed the post. “Winging” the copy (or strategy) is never a good idea….:)
The bottom line is a content audit answers all the questions and provides the foundation for the strategy! Very few do the audit properly… Mostly todays internet marketers collect data and guess… likely wouldn’t know a good site and it is why Google feels the need for algo’s like Panda, GooPLA, Penguin and the crutch of the crippled marketer…. EMD! If they could really access sites would they get hit by Penguin…well if they could and still did it…shame on them!
Just my .02 Ca….
Heather, thanks for listing out the questions. These are going to support a lot. A successful copywriter knows about his primary and secondary objectives; understands the targeted audience; and frames content around benefits of products and services to readers, helping them get converted easily.
@Terry – it’s always nice to “see” you. :)
Waaaayyyy too many companies don’t outsource their content audits because they costs money. Instead, they do it in house – and like you said, “they collect data and guess.”
And that’s never smart.
It’s an extremely good idea to outsource the audit along with the writing. Often, the writer can see opportunities that an in-house team can’t see (they’re too close to it.) Plus, the writer doesn’t care about the politics – so he/she will suggest strategies that work versus strategies that are politically “safe.”
And, from the writer’s perspective, when the writer handles it, she/he knows the audit is done correctly. Not that some companies haven’t given me good information – it’s happened. But very rarely…
I saw Terry’s remark about a content audit and it reminded of a recent nightmare. I went corporate for a little while and we launched a huge rebranding initiative. This included a complete website overhaul.
Part of the strategy for the new content involved me performing a content audit to see where the current website stood.
I carefully crafted a spreadsheet to track details across a site with a few hundred pages. I painstakingly went page by page scoring the content for a variety of factors. at least that was my intent. After about 60 pages of duplicated content I threw my hands in the air, tossed out my notes and drew a new strategy from scratch with one key point in mind.
Don’t let executives touch the website content ever again.
Ha! That’s funny. Sounds like sound advice, Derek! ;)
Having a strategy in place makes sense, I really like the analogy you used. You can’t just jump in or it will fail. Creating quality, engaging content incorporating SEO techniques is how you are going to convert your visitors to buyers. It means nothing if you put all of your budget into a fantastic site, but your content is poorly written and irrelevant to your audience. It takes a lot of time and effort.