From the perspective of a business owner, webmaster, or marketing manager, the change exhibited by the Internet is profoundly exciting yet profoundly disturbing. The information (and misinformation and disinformation) it offers, the business benefits it promises, and the rules it is governed by change rapidly, and it’s almost impossible to keep up.
These changes have led to a growing appreciation of the value of quality web copy. This appreciation has, in turn, led to an influx of opportunistic copywriters promoting themselves as website copywriters or SEO copywriters. Don’t get me wrong, there are quite a few excellent SEO copywriters, and you should shop around. The purpose of this article isn’t to scare you; it’s to help you find the SEO copywriter who’ll deliver honest service and excellent results.
So with that in mind, consider the following ten tips. You have a right to expect these things from anyone wearing a name badge that reads website copywriter, SEO copywriter, internet copywriter, or web copywriter(See also 10 Things to Expect From Your Website Copywriter and How to Make the Most of Your Website Copywriter.)
1) An understanding of SEO
Your SEO copywriter must have a solid understanding of the essentials of Search Engine Optimization. They must know that ranking is essentially the result of a website’s relevance (i.e., keywords) and importance (i.e., inbound links). Many other factors are involved, but if your SEO copywriter doesn’t understand these two basics, you should look elsewhere. If you’d like to ensure your SEO copywriter
knows a little more than just the basics, take a look at SEO for CEOs, Writing SEO Copy, SEO Trade Secrets, Web Copy – How Much is Enough?, and How to Top Google by Writing Articles for some clues as to what you might like to ask to assess their knowledge.
2) Proven experience
The proof is, as they say, in the pudding. It’s not enough that your SEO copywriter can talk; they must also be able to walk the walk. Ask to see some examples of websites for which they’ve obtained some good rankings. Note that it may be very difficult to find an SEO copywriter who has worked on keywords and link generation, so if you find one who has and writes well, snap them up! They’ll have a very broad and useful working knowledge of search engines.
3) An understanding of how many keywords to use
You don’t want to fill every page with every keyword you’re targeting. This dilutes your site’s relevance and reduces readability. Ask your SEO copywriter how many keywords they recommend targeting each page. Hopefully, they’ll suggest no more than 3, preferably 2. By targeting 2 keyword phrases per page, you can use them a lot without impacting readability.
4) Clear agreement on who will provide keywords
Someone needs to perform a keyword analysis to determine what words you should try to rank highly for. Your SEO copywriter should be able to do this for you, but it’s quite often more cost-effective if someone a little closer to the business does it. Either way, ensure your agreement with your SEO copywriter clarifies who is performing this task. Don’t assume the SEO copywriter will do it because they may assume you will do it, and then you’ll blow your budget.
5) Keywords or keyword phrases
Expect your SEO copywriter to offer some advice regarding how specific you should be with your keywords. In most industries, the competition for keywords is so fierce that you’ll be forced to target very specific keywords to rank, at least at the outset. For instance, if you’re in IT, you probably wouldn’t start by targeting the keyword IT. The competition is immense (at the time of writing, there were
approx 3,240,000,000 results for this search on Google.com), and the IT giants already dominate the search engines for this keyword. Instead, try using a more specific keyword phrase like IT infrastructure consulting in new york (at the time of writing, there were only around 4,000,000 results for this search on Google.com). The other benefit of targeting more specific keyword phrases is generating more relevant leads.
6) Agree on word count per page
Always make sure your SEO copywriter gives you an indication of the number of words they expect to write per web page. While having a decent body of words on most of your web pages is necessary, you certainly shouldn’t have too many what too many depends on your industry, the page’s objective, and your audience’s needs. It’s always a delicate balance, but it’s certainly possible to rank highly with only 100-200 words per page. So don’t be fooled into paying for the copy you don’t need!
7) Density targets & measure
SEO of a web page is NOT guesswork. A good SEO copywriter will talk about density measures. This measures the number of times the keyword phrase appears on the page. It’s expressed as a percentage of the page’s total word count. So if your page has 200 words and your keyword phrase appears 10 times, its density is 5%. As a rule of thumb, your SEO copywriter should aim for a density of approximately 5% for your primary keyword phrase and 3-5% for your secondary keyword phrase. If your density measures are much
higher than this, readability will be reduced, and you’ll risk being perceived as spam by search engines. Make sure your SEO copywriter understands keyword density, is prepared to state the target density for each keyword phrase and is also happy to be measured by that standard (should you decide to measure).
8) Where to place keywords
The question of keyword placement has been the subject of much debate amongst SEO copywriters. While it is still unclear how much impact placement has, there is a consensus that it has SOME impact. Be sure that your copywriter is aware of this impact. Popular opinion is that keywords are more effective if they appear in headings, bolded text, links, and generally toward the beginning of the page.
9) Some comments on structure & links
Search engines generally better indexed websites if their spiders can traverse the entire site using text links. Your SEO copywriter should link each page to every other page using text links. If your site is complex, this may be impractical, so your SEO copywriter will need to create a hierarchical structure for your site. First, they should break your subject material down into categories. Then for each
category, they should write a summary page. These summary pages should be accessible from higher-level pages via text links. They should also be accessible from each other. Each summary page should link using text links to several pages discussing the finer details of the category. And each detail page in a particular category should link to every other detail page in that category (once again, using text links). This way, the spiders can travel from the top of your hierarchy to the bottom and from left to right across any level.
10) Don’t believe grand promises
SEO copywriters can play a significant role in increasing your search engine ranking. But they can’t do it overnight. By optimizing your site for your target keyword phrases, an SEO copywriter is simply declaring the relevance of your site. If you engage an SEO copywriter to write helpful articles containing a byline with a link to your site, you can then submit these articles for publication on the Internet, steadily increasing your ranking. But if an SEO copywriter tells you they can dramatically increase your ranking in hours or days, be
wary. NOTE: Your SEO copywriter should be able to submit your articles to various sites on the Internet. These sites are closely watched by hundreds of thousands of publishers of e-newsletters and article pages from all around the world. High-quality articles are quickly snapped up and published prolifically. And each time your article is published, you’ve got another link back to your site, thus
increasing the importance of your site (to the search engines). If you’d like to submit your articles, your SEO copywriter should be able to sell you a list of
50 or more submitted sites for as little as USD$99.4
An SEO copywriter is a valuable addition to your marketing function. But you need to make sure you choose wisely. When you know what questions to ask, the battle is half won.