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SEO & Content Marketing Revue

SEO & Content Marketing Revue

By Heather Lloyd-Martin

About Heather

Described as a fast-talking, fiery redhead, Heather Lloyd-Martin is a 20-year marketing veteran, a recognized author and considered the pioneer of SEO copywriting. Recognized worldwide as a first-generation search marketing expert, she has been training corporate in-house SEO copywriters and creating revenue-driving Web site content campaigns via her consultancy, SuccessWorks.

 

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The Digital Mystique: All Smoke and Mirrors?
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While it may be true that US adults spend 47 percent of their time interacting with digital (online, mobile or...



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Measuring Customer Engagement: It’s Not Easy and It Takes Time
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Here's what's easy: Measuring the effect of individual engagements like Web page views, email opens, paid and organic search clicks,...



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Top 10 Local SEO Best Practices for Small Businesses
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Have you ever wondered how you could get your business to show up on the first page of Google, along...



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Marketers everywhere are faced every day with many marketing channel choices. It's hard to know which ones will work best....



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So you've created your campaign and attended to all the details of identifying your audience, created your offer, and toiled...



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Challenging something we do quite naturally and easily is indeed the perfect challenge. We all get into ruts—some even good...



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Don’t Do It Just Because You Can
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Don't do it just because you can. No kidding. … Any geek with moderate coding skills or any overzealous marketer...



IMM-Possible ROI

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I've heard many gurus, marketers and publishers brag about their social media followers. They'll say things like, "Isn't it great...



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Consumers reveal more than ever before consciously through social media and, just as importantly, unconsciously through their behaviors. This data...



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Oct 7, 2013

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Denny Hatch's Blog

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Sep 25, 2010

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Successfully Bring Your SEO Copywriting In-House

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The marketing manager of a large e-commerce site recently filled me in on a challenge she was having. She knew her content needed an SEO copywriting intervention—but she didn't have the budget for a keyphrase editing or rewrite campaign.

So I asked her, "Have you ever thought of bringing your SEO copywriting in-house?"

And I could almost hear the light bulb flickering on above her head.

The reality is, SEO copywriting is one task that can often be brought in-house. With the right people and a little training, your existing team members can produce your content—and your company will save money on your search marketing campaign.

If this is the direction you want your company to go, here are some things to consider:

Decide who does the writing.  This may seem like a no-brainer, as it's easy to think, "Well, we have five people in our marketing department, plus all of our sales staff. They can all write copy." However, some folks are more qualified to write than others—and choosing the best writers will help make your campaign much more successful.

Try to pinpoint possible in-house SEO copywriters by:

  1. Experience: Print/online copywriters and journalists are the easiest to train.
  2. Being realistic: Just because someone is an awesome salesperson doesn't mean he knows how to write. Review a person's past writing and be very, very honest about his capabilities. You can train a good writer in SEO copywriting. But you can't train a naturally bad writer to write better copy—at least, not without putting in some major effort.
  3. Interest: Some folks don't like to write. Period. They'll do it when they're forced to, but the results are less than stellar. Giving writing tasks to these folks won't help you a bit.

You may decide that you have to hire someone on a full or part-time basis to handle some of the writing. That's OK. Better to hire someone with experience to fill in the gaps, then transform people into writers who, well, really shouldn't be the ones writing content for your brand.

Make sure your writers have time to write.  SEO copywriting is not an "other duties as assigned" gig. I've seen the best campaigns go bad because the SEO copywriters had other tasks to complete—and those duties took precedence over creating content. If you want your SEO copywriters to churn out premium content, that means they need the time to write. And that means good, uninterrupted time-free from meetings, phone calls and e-mail. If you honestly can't give your writers space to write, you may see better (and faster) results from outsourcing.

Get the right training for your team. This step is crucial. Yes, it is possible to train your writers in SEO copywriting best practices. Yes, you can train folks to write benefit-rich copy that converts like crazy. But the operable word is training. I've seen too many companies send their writers to a conference with the task of "learning everything they can about SEO copywriting." Guess what? I'm usually speaking at those conferences, and the information panelists can provide in 60 minutes or less is basic at best—and it's certainly not customized for a company's unique situation.

The right training depends on how much copywriting knowledge your writing team already has. If they are experienced online writers and strategists who just need to understand the SEO copywriting nuances, reading some books and taking a course like my SEO Copywriting Certification training should get them up to speed. If your company currently doesn't have an in-house SEO copywriting strategy and your writers aren't experienced online writers, a customized training that discusses copywriting theory as well as SEO copywriting is probably your best bet.

Whatever your company chooses, remember that it's not fair to push someone into SEO copywriting who has no experience and no training. Not only will it be frustrating for your writer, it's bad for your business—who wants Web pages written by someone who doesn't know what he's doing?

Determine your content marketing opportunities. It's one thing to task people with handling your online content. It's another to tell them exactly what they should be writing. I've trained a lot of in-house copywriters, and the key to success (other than training) is having a clear action plan. What initially seems easy, "We'll just send out some tweets, create a Facebook page and start editing pages," is actually much more complex. Questions to ask are:

  1. What are our analytics telling us about our current content? What keyphrases are working?
  2. Do we need additional keyphrase research?
  3. What do we expect to gain from (insert content marketing strategy here)? For instance, if Twitter is part of your strategy, make sure you know how you'll actually measure success.
  4. What pages can be edited for keyphrases (some folks call this "on-site optimization")? Which pages should be completely rewritten?
  5. Is the tone, feel and benefit statement focus still appropriate for today's marketplace?

If your company doesn't have a content marketing strategy in place, I would highly recommend hiring a content strategist who can help you determine your content marketing opportunities and figure out next steps. This person doesn't have to be a permanent member of your team; bringing on an outsourced vendor is fine. But as I mentioned in a previous post on my business blog, these folks will "see" opportunities that a technical SEO person won't (which makes sense—technical SEO folks focus on code, not marketing.) Yes, this will cost some money, but much, much less than outsourcing your content. Plus, you'll have a step-by-step plan for how to proceed.

Create an editorial calendar. The best-laid plans mean nothing without implementation. It's one thing to know what to do. It's another to actually do it. Determine who is writing what and the deadlines, then work with IT to figure out when new/edited content will be uploaded. A monthly editorial calendar is a great way to stay on track—plus, having everything written down makes everyone accountable.

Keep the momentum going. I know how hard it is to keep the content marketing momentum going when business is booming and everyone is swamped. Even if you have more business than you can handle right now, I encourage you to stay the course and keep cranking out quality content—even a few pages a month is good. And if your business is going through a natural slow time, using that time to build content is a powerful way to prepare for the upswing. Think about it: There is a high probability you're getting the business you are because of your content marketing strategy. If you start to pull back and push content to the back burner, you'll lose momentum—and possibly allow a competitor to "catch up" with you. Just remember the formula Momentum = Money, and you'll be fine.

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COMMENTS

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Most Recent Comments:
Jonathan Painter - Posted on June 16, 2010
This is a well written article and raises some valid points; however, it seems to pertain to larger businesses. Outsourcing is becoming increasingly common and sites such as Elance provide a great one-stop-shop. I found an outstanding writer for blog postings, press releases and other SEO related tasks and pay 1/10th of what it would cost to hire a new employee or train a current one.
Heather Lloyd-Martin - Posted on May 19, 2010
Hello!

@Andrew: You are exactly right. There are so many instances where writers think that they have to write to X% keyphrase density - and the end result is a spammy article. It's important to remember that you're writing for people first - and if your article/webpage/press release sounds keyphrase-stuffed and spammy...well...it probably is! :)

@Kathryn: Yes, I completely agree with you. There are many instances when a company should outsource their writing (which may be a future blog post, now that I think about it.) At the same time, there are many companies who don't want to/can't outsource. In that case, I always recommend training. If nothing else, training helps the internal staff understand SEO copywriting best practices and some basic copywriting theory - and the company can start seeing greater search engine/conversion success. It may not be the "perfect" option for the company, but it's workable - and many times, the company will eventually outsource some pages (such as sales pages) that they need to be perfect for search engines and prospects.

Thanks, guys, for your comments!
Kathryn Pomroy - Posted on May 19, 2010
Absolutely some very valid points, however I would hesitate to assume that someone in house can actually write. This is not a task to be taken lightly, nor should it be. Writers...good writers are hard to come by. Great writers are few and far between. Be careful putting all your apples into one basket, as you may be worse off in the long run.

Freelancers often charge far less then a writer employed by an agency, and freelancers are competitive by nature, so they may be willing to work within a budget.

Consider all your options, and don't rely on your own staff if they are not up to the task.
Andrew Gouty - Posted on May 15, 2010
Some valid points here about internalizing some very critical SEO processes. A recent presentation at the 2010 SEO Moz summit from Avvo.com commented heavily on internalizing SEO.

I would be wary however on focusing so heavily on Keyword Density, to the point where it borders on Keyword Spamming, both internally and in link building.
Click here to view archived comments...
Archived Comments:
Jonathan Painter - Posted on June 16, 2010
This is a well written article and raises some valid points; however, it seems to pertain to larger businesses. Outsourcing is becoming increasingly common and sites such as Elance provide a great one-stop-shop. I found an outstanding writer for blog postings, press releases and other SEO related tasks and pay 1/10th of what it would cost to hire a new employee or train a current one.
Heather Lloyd-Martin - Posted on May 19, 2010
Hello!

@Andrew: You are exactly right. There are so many instances where writers think that they have to write to X% keyphrase density - and the end result is a spammy article. It's important to remember that you're writing for people first - and if your article/webpage/press release sounds keyphrase-stuffed and spammy...well...it probably is! :)

@Kathryn: Yes, I completely agree with you. There are many instances when a company should outsource their writing (which may be a future blog post, now that I think about it.) At the same time, there are many companies who don't want to/can't outsource. In that case, I always recommend training. If nothing else, training helps the internal staff understand SEO copywriting best practices and some basic copywriting theory - and the company can start seeing greater search engine/conversion success. It may not be the "perfect" option for the company, but it's workable - and many times, the company will eventually outsource some pages (such as sales pages) that they need to be perfect for search engines and prospects.

Thanks, guys, for your comments!
Kathryn Pomroy - Posted on May 19, 2010
Absolutely some very valid points, however I would hesitate to assume that someone in house can actually write. This is not a task to be taken lightly, nor should it be. Writers...good writers are hard to come by. Great writers are few and far between. Be careful putting all your apples into one basket, as you may be worse off in the long run.

Freelancers often charge far less then a writer employed by an agency, and freelancers are competitive by nature, so they may be willing to work within a budget.

Consider all your options, and don't rely on your own staff if they are not up to the task.
Andrew Gouty - Posted on May 15, 2010
Some valid points here about internalizing some very critical SEO processes. A recent presentation at the 2010 SEO Moz summit from Avvo.com commented heavily on internalizing SEO.

I would be wary however on focusing so heavily on Keyword Density, to the point where it borders on Keyword Spamming, both internally and in link building.