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12 SEO Copywriting Rules From Someone Who Does It All Day

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Writing content for SEO purposes, whether it’s for outreach or on-site optimization, is demanding. SEO content quality has gone WAY up in recent years (we’ve finally left the churn farms behind us), but there is still a huge need for writing in bulk. SEO copywriters need to be speedy and OK with rapidly changing topics and targets. But SEO writing is about much more than just volume — it’s also about comprehensive audience research and getting your key points across succinctly. An accomplished SEO writer should have a good understanding of not just SEO, but also CRO, UX, direct response copywriting, lead generation, content marketing, and PR (to name but a few). If you are serious about your career as a digital writer and want to get better at it — read on.

  • Design a workflow (& follow it)

The best writers are organized and committed to their work. Random tabs open everywhere and messy task lists will make you (and your content) seem less professional.

 

Whether you write on your own, or manage other writers, keep your standards high and follow a set content workflow order.

 

Here are a few things to think about when it comes to designing a shored-up content workflow:

 

  • Confidentiality and non-disclosure agreements: make sure they are stored somewhere secure and that you have sign-off before project kick-off

  • Naming conventions for documents, projects, and folders: how can you design an online filing system that’s intuitive for both SEOs and writers? (I like to use Google Drive for mine)

  • When are you (and others) most productive? Maximize writer time with a quiet and well thought-out working space, and test out productivity hacks like the Pomodoro Technique on yourself and your team

  • Editing: who edits content? How long does sign-off take? Where does client sign-off fit in, and what format does this take? There can be a lot of ‘noise’ in the SEO world, so try to instil a sense of order by being 100% clear on project expectations and next steps

  • Invoicing & uploading content: make sure that you get paid fairly and on-time. Many people use a 50/50 payment structure where clients pay a 50% deposit at the start of a project. If you are uploading content but are not very good at it, outsource the final formatting to a web developer or designer so you aren’t wasting your time.

 

Recognize the importance of processes in adding structure to a content team, and try to match writers with briefs that best match their specialisms and expertise to maximize content ROI.

2. Watch your cannibalization

If you are working on SEO copywriting for an entire site, you will find that your keyword research will throw up the same phrases and words over and over again. It’s super important that you keep track of what phrases most naturally fit what pages so that you don’t push pages into unnecessary competition with each other. (I find spreadsheets are a good way to manage this speedily).

 

joey meme.jpg

 

With any niche vocabulary there will always be some natural cross-over, so don’t go too much the over way and lean on a thesaurus too heavy-handedly like Joey. You want your content to still sound natural and engaging — that’s still your main deliverable.

3. Switch up content projects

Writers need to go where inspiration takes them from time to time, so don’t damage your creativity by ploughing on with the same content for weeks. Always have a few different pieces on the go for variety, and try to mix things up between on-site copy, guest posts, emails, social media, etc.

 

Variety truly is the spice of life for an SEO copywriter. If you are working intensely on content for one site, invest in a little side project from time to time to mix things up. Use this same rule of thumb for your staff and junior writers — otherwise, they will lose momentum and productivity will slow down.

Switching up content doesn’t mean constantly flitting between screens and projects (that’s inefficient), it just means having a productive side project you can work on when you need a quick brain refresh.

 

Some writers will eventually become specialists in a certain niche or vertical. Specialism is a great way to growth hack your career, but make sure you still keep checking in on a few other topics and themes so that you don’t stagnate.

4. You need an editor

Writing copy can lead to temporary blindness — make sure that you get someone else to read over and check your copy before you upload it or send it over to an important client.

 

More heavy-weight copywriters can self-edit, but this takes some practice. The best time to edit is when you are feeling fresh and haven’t read the piece for awhile. Always try to sleep on copy if you can — fresh eyes the next day could make all the difference between 100% client satisfaction, and silly typos ruining your credibility.

 

Another editing hack: ready your copy in small chunks, or read it back to front. It can help you pick up on any unfortunate bloopers.

5. Invest in yourself and get involved in the digital economy

SEO can be a tough world. People will try to squeeze words out of you and negotiate your rates down. Take control and use your own SEO writing skills to start your own websites and blogs. Even with zero coding experience you can start a very legitimate looking online store, or create your own visually appealing blog.

 

Projects like these will teach you valuable lessons, make your more independent, and allow you to bring more energy and inspiration to your client work.

6. Take advantage of tools (but use your brain)

There are plenty of clever SEO tools out there that can help you write better content, but don’t substitute a tool for actually using you brain. Be critical and analytical about the data that a tool gives you, and never take things for granted.

 

A must-have writer tool (especially for people who struggle with correct English) is Grammarly, but I find that the best writers are never overly reliant on tools. Become familiar with language and punctuation, don’t just rely on a tool to always tell you what’s right.

7. If in doubt — research

Wikipedia is your friend. No, seriously — use it. There is a whole wealth of research and great content out there online, so there’s no excuse for getting stuck on a project — go out and find information and inspiration.

 

Information rules marketing. In today’s data-driven world, people love statistics and factoids. Take advantage of this and use data to help back up your sales or landing page claims. (But don’t forget to also be critical about data sources — you know more than anyone that you can’t 100% trust some online content).

 

Competitor research is another under-utilized writer strategy that pays dividends. Spend time trawling through the SERPs to see what angles and topics others have covered (and make sure you do it better).

 

If you develop sophisticated research skills you will find that you’ll be able to command better paid work. Complex niches that require research always pay well, so start developing your own research abilities today.

8. Use density tools as writing aides

Keyword density is becoming less of a yardstick for SEO content, but it’s still a good place to start to see what topics you have (and haven’t covered) in your copy.

A free tool like SEOBook’s Analyzer is also a great way to see whether you are using any repetitive words, phrases, or constructions. Writers can easily develop ‘tics’ and blind spots, so coming back to check on your word densities can help you improve your writing across the board.

9. Invest in continuous improvement

The best copywriters are the ones who commit to improving themselves. Don’t just focus on the craft of writing, see what other skills you can pick up along the way.

 

Many writers end up becoming marketers, designers, and strategists in their own right. Think about whether that might be a legitimate route for your career.

 

But don’t just think five years down the line, improve what’s in front of you today. Learn how to use plugins and speed hacks to become a digital power-user and spreadsheet ninja.

 

Get to know keyboard shortcuts and use browser plugins to help you automate certain repetitive tasks like bookmarking sites for later, or snipping content or text for a post. Here is a list of some useful and computer common shortcuts (for Windows).

10. Lean on data, not hunches

During the course of a long project, the writerly ego can rear its ugly head and instil a sense of false confidence. Don’t become too confident and start relying on your own evaluation of a situation (or worse, a hunch): keep going back to your data sets. Keep checking your keyword research and metrics to keep you accountable and ensure that you are still doing the right things.

 

Explain to any clients that part of your job is thorough auditing and research — and that this needs to be factored into project time (and cost).

11. Little things = big wins

You need to also stress the importance of writing conversion-oriented and user-friendly copy. Clients often forget the importance of metacopy (title tags and meta descriptions) and microcopy (small copy that’s used in contact forms etc.) It’s your job to ensure that all the little details like this are shored up, and that you spend enough time optimizing and improving the site’s metacopy. Don’t just focus on the ‘sexy’ headline — little things make all the difference.

 

Explain the basics of a good meta-description to a client and show the difference it can make to click-through rates. Stress the importance of spending time and budget on the little details — again, data will help you argue your case.

12. Don’t give up

SEO copywriters need to be hardy. Deadlines are usually tough and briefs can be difficult — it’s important that you develop your writerly resilience.

 

Some briefs are hard and may feel impossible at first. Instead of saying ‘no, I can’t do this’, try taking a break and return to your laptop once you feel refreshed. Having a break and a bit of a walk around is a great way to refresh your brain — staring at your screen certainly isn’t going to help.

 

Sometimes you need to break through the barrier, especially with a new (complex) niche. It will click into place — promise. After the first few pages or articles in a new vertical, you will start to feel much more comfortable and all the research you’ve done will start to pay off.

 

Being an SEO writer means using a dynamic mix of analytical and creative skills to persuade, charm, and convert. Use all the weapons in your arsenal to write better copy, and land better clients. Time and experience will help you find your specialism as a writer. What’s your favorite thing about SEO copywriting?

Kayleigh Toyra on Twitter
Kayleigh Toyra
Kayleigh Toyra: Creative Director at an SEO Agency.
I have plenty of experience SEO copywriting, and now I run a small team of writers at my own content agency. Passionate about the entrepreneur lifestyle.
  • Joshi Anand

    It’s been a perfect scenario for the post you have shared. Such an important to be noticed by the each content marketers. Thanks for sharing.
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  • sandesh

    Hi Kayleigh, Thanks For sharing this Article. Its a very helpful for each content marketers.

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