On Tuesday, we heard from SEO guru, Heather Lloyd-Martin of SuccessWorks Search Marketing http://www.seocopywriting.com. Here are more of her valuable tips:
What is the best way for entrepreneurs to learn SEO and start using it?
The best possible scenario is if the entrepreneur can hire a SEO consultant to teach them the ins and outs. It is very possible for a small business owner to learn the fundamentals through reading books, going to conferences, etc.
However, hiring a consultant helps you understand how to apply that information to your site quickly and easily – and can help you avoid some common, newbie mistakes. If you want to learn SEO fast and reduce the learning curve, hiring a consultant is your best bet.
The second most effective way to learn is through seminars and group training – anywhere where you can immerse yourself in SEO and ask questions. Again, it is possible to learn SEO, but being able to double-check your knowledge and ask questions of a qualified instructor in real-time helps the new information sink in faster. It’s not as personalized as one-on-one, but it does give you answers to some of your questions.
Finally, you can learn SEO through blog and message board posts. This is probably the lowest-cost alternative – but also the most “risky” way to gain new information.
Unfortunately, there’s a lot of incorrect advice about SEO out there. What’s more, the advice is bad enough that it could cause you to write your copy
incorrectly, inadvertently spam the engines and not leverage the opportunities
you can leverage. If it’s the only way you can learn SEO…go for it. But try to
see if there’s a budget for even a little bit of professional advice through a
training, Webinar or consulting time.
Do small business owners need to hire a professional SEO copywriter to help them? Why or why not?
Yes and no. If you love what you do, like to write and have time to do so – it may make sense to learn SEO copywriting. Some of the best marketing copy I’ve seen was written by small business owners who are passionate about their companies, and that passion carries through in their writing.
Yes, there is a learning curve. And yes, you will have to learn some direct-response copywriting principals (how to write so people want to buy from you) as well as how to research and work with keyphrases. But if you enjoy learning new skills and you’re not in a rush (or you really want to save money,) it’s definitely something you can learn.
Now, if you hate to write – or you know that you don’t have time – it’s best to outsource. An experienced SEO copywriter can research your keyphrases and write final-draft ready copy in just few days. If your site hasn’t seen top rankings since the Alta Vista days (say, 1998) and you don’t have time to update your text, I would definitely pay the money and outsource.
You will be paying around $250-$1,500 per page (depending on the complexity of the copy and the number of pages you need – small businesses typically pay on the low end of the scale.) But know that you will be receiving that investment back every time someone clicks on a top search engine listing and visits your site.
What should people look for when hiring a good SEO copywriter and where can they find one?
Good SEO copywriters are worth their weight in marketing gold. These folks are masters of direct-response copywriting as well as knowing how the search engines “think.” They can research your keyphrases, choose the best ones, and seamlessly integrate them into your content. People may balk at paying, say, $800 to write a page that positions in the engines – yet they’ll pay $15/click for PPC costs. After 54 clicks, you could have paid for a top-positioned Web page instead – and you wouldn’t be charged every time someone clicked on your listing.
If you have the opportunity to hear a SEO copywriter speak about his craft, go for it – you can get an idea of his personality, how he works and whether he’d be a good “fit” for your site. Barring that, you can search Google and Twitter for “SEO copywriting” and see what names pop up. From there, you can do your due diligence and start making some phone calls.
I’ve also written two articles about when hiring a “newbie” and an “intermediate-level” SEO copywriter is appropriate. You can find those articles here:
The big thing is – always ask for a writing sample and references. If their best work doesn’t impress you, find someone else who does.
What are some things to avoid when hiring SEO copywriters?
I just spoke to someone who outsourced their SEO copywriting to a firm in India…and he was surprised that the writing quality was so low. Another person hired a college student to create copy for them, and was amazed to realize that the college student wasn’t a good writer, had plagiarized another writer’s work, and had no idea what a keyphrase was.
SEO copywriting is truly a “get what you pay for” proposition. If you’re paying $50 a page, don’t expect good writing. Period. Chances are, you won’t like the final result and you’ll end up either (1) uploading copy that you hate, or (2) rewriting it yourself.
What other tips do you have for new small business owners who want to use SEO to help bring in new sales?
Don’t be afraid to “baby step” your SEO efforts. You may not have $5,000 (or more) to spend on your Web site right now – and that’s OK. Focus on what you can do and control. That way, you start seeing some incremental success that pays for itself – and you can work on other areas of your site when you have time.
Thanks for your great insights Heather! To contact Heather, please visit
And if you have questions about SEO copywriting and your PR efforts, feel free to contact me below or at www.rembrandtwrites.com. I’d love to hear from you!