#068: Heather Lloyd-Martin on SEO Copywriting

Today we’re talking about SEO copywriting. And to get the full scoop on what’s happening with SEO these days, I’ve brought in one of the world’s top authorities on the subject: Heather Lloyd Martin.

Heather has been writing, studying and teaching SEO copywriting for years. In fact, she got started way before SEO copywriting went mainstream.

In this interview, Heather is going to give us an overview of this opportunity, including:

What SEO copywriting entails

How it has changed over the past 10 years

How Google’s big changes have impacted our ability to optimize web pages

How you can manage clients’ expectations in an environment of unscrupulous SEO practitioners?

The best sources of information for SEO copywriters

The best opportunities for SEO copywriters today

And much more!

The notes that follow are a very basic, unedited summary of the show. There’s a lot more detail in the audio version. You can listen to the show using the audio player below. Or you can subscribe in iTunes or on Stitcher to get this show delivered straight to the Podcasts app on your smart phone, tablet or iPod.

Tell us about yourself

Heather Lloyd-Martin has worked in SEO copywriting for the past 17 years. Prior to that, she worked as a print copywriter.

What is SEO copywriting?

SEO copywriting gets a bad rap.

People think SEO copywriting is sticking words into content to optimize it for Google. But it isn’t.

SEO copywriting is a subset of good content writing. Unlike regular content writing, with SEO copywriting you write for two target audiences: readers and Google. You use keywords to help Google understand what the page is about. At the same time, the page flows well and isn’t repetitive or weird.

Do you think SEO copywriting has a bad reputation because for many years people could game the system?

At one time, poorly written pages with lots of key phrase repetition would rank higher than well-written pages. But today, Google’s algorithms more sophisticated and that doesn’t happen.

Some companies will always claim they can do SEO faster and easier. Unfortunately, these companies get grouped in with SEO writing.

How have these changes impacted SEO copywriters’ ability to help their clients?

It’s been very positive for good SEO writers. Good SEO writers help a company’s online presence by creating content that gets shared. This sharing leads to new links and more traffic.

You can be doing everything right—writing blog posts, authoring books, building your reputation in your industry—but if your site isn’t optimized, you won’t rank as high as you should. SEO writers can help with this.

What’s involved in optimizing a site?

The first step is key phrase research. How do you describe your products and services? People in your company and industry may know what you’re talking about, but Google may not. Research can help unlock words and phrases that will help you rank for your main topics.

The next step is to sprinkle relevant words and phrases through your pages, headings, subheadings, links and meta descriptions without making your content awkward to read.

How important is on-page tweaking versus off-page tweaking?

While quality links are important, you should pay more attention to your content. You control your content, and when your content is good, people will link to your site. Great content naturally leads to off-page optimization.

If you have poor content, no one will link to you. A link is a recommendation.
Writers are the best SEOs because we create the content that readers want to link to and share.

Do you have to be a SEO-trained copywriter to write web copy for clients?

Yes. If you don’t know how to create SEO copy, your clients may get wonderfully written content, but it won’t position in Google. As a result, the client has to hire an SEO firm to fix your copy, and that’s an expensive and time-consuming extra step.

If you don’t keep up with the latest SEO “rules” then you put your client’s site at risk. Google may remove you from its index or downgrade your ranking.

How do you manage clients’ expectations in an environment of unscrupulous SEO practitioners?

In its Webmaster Guidelines, Google states that no firm can guarantee a top ranking. You can direct prospects to that statement.

If prospects push back on this, you might not want to have them as clients. They’ll always look for shortcuts to better rankings, which may sabotage your work.

You may need to educate clients. People will approach your clients and make promises about quick fixes. Direct clients to blog posts and articles that discuss what SEO is and isn’t. Explain what you can and can’t do. There’s a lot of fear, uncertainty and doubt about SEO ranking.

Google’s Mark Cutts has a channel on YouTube where he dispels a lot of SEO myths. You can find links to his videos and related blog posts on his website.

What are the best sources of information for SEO writers?

SEO writers have to stay on top of SEO writing and the digital marketing ecosystem generally.

Top sources:

Don’t trust everything you read in forums. Stick to reputable SEO experts.

What are the best opportunities for SEO copywriters today?

Generally, B2B companies have been slow to adopt SEO, so you can find opportunities there. Companies also need help with Google’s Local SEO.

No industry is tapped out for SEO writing. Some industries might be a harder sell, but all have felt the sting of smaller, more nimble companies chomping at their heels. Often they know they need to do something, but they’re afraid of getting on Google’s bad side.

How can listeners learn more about you?

Heather’s website: Seocopywriting.com. There you can sign up for Heather’s weekly newsletter to get tips and actionable items for SEO. She also provides certification training for SEO writing.

Heather’s LinkedIn SEO Copywriting group: SEO Copywriting