If you’re comfortable with SEO copywriting, put it to work for you in a seasonal strategy to increase your business. And if you’ve been avoiding SEO copywriting because it seems scary, now is a great time to take that first step.
That was the advice from Heather Lloyd-Martin recently, when she spoke with a group of Wealthy Web Writer members. You can listen to the entire teleconference HERE.
Heather has been a pioneer in the Search Engine Optimization (SEO) industry. About 17 years ago — long before Google — she realized there was an opportunity for online copywriters. Back then, the best way to go online was with AOL and not many companies had websites.
The biggest search engine back then was Alta Vista — Google wouldn’t come along for another couple of years.
In those early days, SEO was really just a collection of technical tricks. Nobody was writing for SEO.
Since those days, Heather’s interesting side gig turned into a “really big deal.”
Today, the focus is on content. How does the copy read to the audience? Can they find it? Is it optimized for Google?
Writers today are finally getting much-deserved recognition, Heather explained, and are “a hugely important part of the optimization process.”
No longer is SEO a web-writing specialty.
“At this point, the market has shifted so much I tell writers that it’s almost a disservice to clients to not give them optimized copy,” Heather told us. If you’re not optimizing copy, your clients will take your “finished” product to another copywriter for SEO. It won’t take those clients long to figure out they could save money and time by giving all the writing to the SEO copywriter.
What if you know your audience so well that you don’t need to research your search terms? For those writers, Heather points out one of her case studies.
A company which wrote books, produced podcasts, and was considered a thought leader in its industry came to her for help. They thought they had done everything right with their website, but the site was “basically invisible to Google.”
Heather made some basic changes.
Within three days, they started seeing results, going from nowhere to the top 10 in search results.
“This is not your typical case,” Heather commented, “but it shows the power of well-written, optimized copy versus web copy that hasn’t had the SEO step added to it.”
Heather’s advice: “If you’re into writing online but afraid of SEO, it might be time to take that step.”
It’s not as hard as you think, she noted, and “you’re able to make more money because you can sell a specialized skill set.”
Is SEO Copywriting Dead?
Every couple of years, Heather sees a new wave of “SEO is dead” thinking. It’s just not true.
People today are afraid — and rightfully — of the poorly written, keyword-stuffed articles that have given SEO a bad reputation. But that is not what Search Engine Optimization is about.
“If you do it right, you’ll have the best of both worlds with good rankings and you’ll click with the target audiences who will take the action you want them to take,” she promised.
How to Make Your Copy More Search-Engine Friendly
In a nutshell, keyword research.
Many writers try to skip this step, Heather noted.
But no matter how well you think you know your audience, you should always do the research.
That’s because the results may surprise you — you might find out you were wrong about how your audience was searching, so you’re not getting the results you could.
There’s another big benefit to doing the research. You’ll finish up with a list of other keywords. They might not work for the main pages, but they’ll give you ideas for articles, blog posts, and additional pages you may not have even thought about.
Don’t Be Afraid
Some writers log into a keyword-planning tool and feel overwhelmed. They don’t want to deal with the data. After all, we’re writers, not number crunchers.
Keyword research is both an art and a science, Heather explained. And there’s a learning curve. If you can stick with it through the learning curve, you’ll start to find it “very cool.”
Add More Projects
Use your keyword research as a springboard into more projects, Heather suggested.
When the client sees that you’re driving more sales, more readers, or more opt-ins, she begins to see you as a consultant, not “just a writer.” You’ll get paid for your thinking time as well as your writing time when you can come up with an entire content plan instead of isolated pieces of content.
Heather suggested that web writers should, “Go play with it until it clicks. I’ve seen nine out of 10 writers who find it to be magical once they master it.”
How to Use Keywords on a Page
Some people are still hung up on keyword density, but that’s the wrong approach.
For a short time, Google rewarded sites that had keywords all over the page, but those days are long gone. In fact, keyword stuffing will incur big penalties today.
Just include the keywords where they naturally fit. Write for your readers first and Google second.
It’s important to stay current with new developments in the SEO world — if you use outdated techniques that Google considers spammy, your page won’t rank as well. Potentially, that can hurt your client’s entire site, not just the page.
SEO writing should be natural, and easy for the reader. Authoritative sites with good content that uses key phrases naturally get rewarded.
How Many Key Phrases Should You Include?
Heather advises using one primary key phrase and focusing the page on it. Then find one or two additional keywords related to the first one, and use them sparingly.
The Bigger Picture
If a company hires you to write several pages, be aware of what the whole site is about. Sites lose their energy when they write about unrelated topics.
“If you have a client in financial management and he suddenly wants to write about the weather, movies, and travel to Arizona, he’ll get himself into trouble. Google won’t know what his site is about,” Heather explained.
Since the client doesn’t always know what’s right, you need to dictate the content plan to make sure everything’s on topic. If something doesn’t fit within an established category, advise the client that it’s not a good idea.
Educate Your Clients
Today’s clients may think they know more than they really do because there’s so much information about SEO in the media. In some ways, that makes your job harder.
If a client insists on a certain keyword density, for example, have some articles on file that explain why that’s not a good idea. Use articles written by third parties, not by you. A piece by Matt Cutts has the weight of Google behind it, so look for his up-to-date articles, videos, and announcements about SEO.
Unless you want the client changing your work before it’s published on the site, it’s important to educate him. When you explain why you’re doing something one way instead of another, it empowers the client and makes him less likely to tamper with your work.
You may be surprised at the clients who need educating, too. Mom-and-pop businesses all the way up to Fortune 500 companies often have little real knowledge about SEO best practices. Sadly, many SEO companies aren’t very knowledgeable, either. They might know the technical aspects of SEO, but they don’t know anything about SEO copywriting.
Don’t feel intimidated just because they have credentials, Heather advised. When it comes to content, you’re the expert. When you advise your client on the right methods of SEO, you also protect yourself — if the campaign doesn’t perform as well as the client expects and you haven’t spoken up, they may blame you.
Use SEO to Increase Your Seasonal Business
There are two main ways to improve your business by promoting seasonal SEO copywriting.
- Help your clients prepare their websites for the ways that customers’ search practices change in the run-up to a holiday.
- Use their newsletter to give their traffic a boost several months before the holiday.
It’s a bit close to the 2014 Thanksgiving/Christmas season to implement the second, but you still have time to give your business a boost this fall.
Examine your keyword research for seasonal trends in your clients’ search terms. Find the popular and trending items, and begin optimizing copy.
- Change titles.
- Add a holiday flavor to the call-to-action.
- Continue making small tweaks to make it “appropriately seasonal.” Just remember that after the holidays are over, you’ll need to change it back!
And now is an excellent time to plan for next year. If you want to optimize your clients’ sites for Christmas, start in July, Heather advised.
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