Smashing Down Roadblocks to SEO Success

You’ve probably heard me say before: SEO copywriting is a must for every web writer.

Not only is it easy money, but understanding the principles of optimizing your web copy for the search engines will only help your copy’s performance. And that means more work and higher fees for you.

Lately, I’ve received more and more questions about SEO copy, which makes me happy, because I can only assume that more people are taking my advice and learning the skill.

So today, I want to share with you a few questions that have been used as roadblocks by web writers in the SEO business, in case they’re standing in your way too. And I asked SEO copywriting expert Heather Lloyd-Martin to weigh in on the answers.

I love getting her take, since she’s not one of those self-proclaimed “SEO gurus.” She’s a working SEO copywriter just like you. She just happens to be the pioneer of SEO copywriting, so she has a better understanding and more experience than anyone else out there!

First up, how to differentiate …

“It seems like everyone “claims” to be a web copywriter. How do I differentiate myself to show that someone like me, who has received proper training, 1) will turn out a better product, and 2) is worth more money to the client?”

Heather: It’s true that you’ll sometimes hear things like, “Our receptionist writes our web pages,” but that’s from low-value clients you really don’t want to work with anyway.

The key is to differentiate yourself and show that you’re a top-notch writer they need to work with now. And showcasing your past successes will help convert prospects into clients.

Case studies are a fantastic way to prove your value. There is nothing better – or more powerful – than being able to say, “I worked with a business similar to yours, and I was able to gain them 26 top-20 positions in three months, plus a 157% increase in conversion rates.”

If you can add before-and-after writing samples, even better. After all, even the most hesitant client can see the difference between so-so writing and skillful copywriting that sings.

It’s also smart to gather client references and testimonials. If a prospect wants to be able to chat with a client, I always have three names and email addresses at the ready.

Good clients don’t mind spending top-dollar for SEO content marketing services. They just want to make sure that the expense is worth it. If you help them justify their decision to work with you through case studies, statistics, and before-and-after screen shots, you’ll land the deal more often.

Technical-speak not required …

“Not being versed in HTML – or any other website-coding language, for that matter – do I as a web copywriter and SEO consultant ONLY hand off copy? What do I need to know technically?”

Heather: It’s true that some SEO copywriters choose to focus only on copy creation – and they do quite well. So, you don’t have to know anything technical to be successful.

However, the benefit to knowing some code is that it opens up more opportunities. If you know just a little bit about working with web code, you can work more efficiently with your client’s IT department. And your knowledge qualifies you for more consulting and training gigs.

Additionally, it helps you communicate better with web designers and programmers. Again, learning code is not a “have to” – but even knowing a little bit of HTML can reap some great rewards.

Lousy website syndrome …

“I’m guilty of the ‘not having a website’ syndrome right now. Not exactly; I have an inexpensive one through VistaPrint, because I can change copy any time I want, and it’s easy. But I’ve learned that the page title is not controlled by me; the page title will say ‘[Name of my business] Homepage’ or ‘[Name of my business] About Us’ or ‘[Name of my business] Learn About Copywriting’ or whatever the headline of the page is.

“And THAT means I’m nowhere in SEO listings. Is my only other alternative to hire a web designer and have him/her design me something, and then I’ll have to learn HTML or CSS to actually write/change my copy? Help!”

Heather: Oh, I always hate these stories, because there isn’t much you can do. Unfortunately, many “easy” site-builder programs are bad for SEO purposes. It’s crucially important to be able to change the Title of the page. Otherwise – you’re right – you won’t see the search rankings you want. If the program won’t let you do it (and definitely call customer service first to confirm), it’s time to find another option.

Fortunately, it’s very easy to use WordPress and start a blog. You don’t have to know HTML, you have complete control over the content and the Titles, and set-up is a snap.

Many writers use WordPress, because it’s so easy to use and incredibly powerful. Moving your content to another platform (whether WordPress or something else) will be time-consuming, granted – but the long-term freedom and flexibility (as well as better search rankings) will make it all worthwhile.

And with the recent revisions to WordPress, it’s often difficult to tell the difference between a blog and a website anymore.

Success right out of the gate …

“I can’t begin to tell you how THRILLED I am about Heather’s SEO copywriting program! I haven’t even had a chance to make all the tweaks she suggests, and my site is already #1 in Google for my keyphrase.

“Heather is a gifted speaker – very entertaining, but also very clear and concise. And she REALLY knows her stuff! I have read … and read … and read some more on how to ramp up SEO rankings – with little success. Heather knows how to boil it all down into simple, doable steps, so you see progress fast – even if you’re not an “Internet guru.” This is a TOP-of-the-line program, and a vital tool for any copywriter’s arsenal – whether you write for client websites, or your own sites!” – Kammy Thurman

Okay, so that one isn’t a roadblock, but I had to share it with you anyway. Because, along with questions, I love getting stories like this from our readers.

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Published: July 8, 2009

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