SEO Content Writing Questions: On Marketing, Targeting Niches, Doing Keyword Research & More


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One thing before we get to today’s post.

I’ve been receiving a tsunami of questions lately, many of which are just too involved to answer. While I actively encourage readers to send in questions (which I do my best to answer), please understand, I simply don’t have time to answer queries that essentially amount to writing a business plan or being an on-call business coach. 

Much of small business is figuring out a lot of stuff on your own. And if there’s one thing that’s covered on the internet, it’s small business. So hunker down and do your research. In the early days of my SEO writing career, I actively set aside time to do industry reading – which I continue to do to this day. Because so much changes in SEO all the time, it’s not an option – it’s necessary.

Now, to today’s post.

4 Questions about SEO Content Writing from a Freelancer 

Following is an email I received from a reader recently about various aspects of being a SEO content writer. Hope my insight helps. For ease or reading, my responses are in blue.

Yuwanda: 

I ordered your SEO [writing] ebooks and thanks to your advice was able to fearlessly land some regular work writing SEO articles and blog posts for an SEO writing company. I have some questions and hoped you may be able to answer them for me directly or on your blog.

N-

First, thanks for your purchases. And yes, I have totally enjoyed my summer. Alas, as fall arrives, I’m making a concerted effort to seriously get down to work (it’s so hard!).

Following are my answers to your questions.

1. I am currently being paid the rate you originally earned when you started writing articles in 2007 ($25/500 word SEO article). I know that I could be earning more if I was working directly with clients rather than receiving assignments from a firm that acts as a “middle man”. Do you have any advice on how to find companies I can approach directly to try to drum up SEO writing work?

Much like any other business, it’s good ole research — via the internet, niche-specific industry associations, networking via Chambers of Commerce, etc.

2. I’ve discovered that the SEO writing niche I like best tends to be with creative companies – personalized notecard companies, online gift companies, etc. I feel like for the most part creative businesses may not be investing in SEO services yet and I would love to approach an untapped market — but how? I am afraid that I don’t know enough about SEO to sell my services as an expert and that I may have to spend a lot of time describing the ins and outs of SEO (which I’m comfortable with to to an extent, but would much prefer to find ways to reach companies who are creative, know the value of SEO, and are ready – but just haven’t taken action yet). Do you have any thoughts on how to best reach those untapped prospects?

See answer above.

Also, special reports work well once you find prospects to market to. For example, you can do one on the basics of SEO and how their type of business could benefit from it, eg, A Simple SEO Strategy for Creative Businesses. Put a strong call-to-action at the end, eg, call for a free SEO consultation.

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NOTE: Did you catch yesterday’s post on InkwellEditorial.com (this site’s parent site) about why it’s important to learn how to freelance -– especially in this economy? It hit home for many. In the comments section, some enlightening stories were shared.
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3. I would like to market my services and provide interested clients with specific stats on the impact of my work. Most often I am given keywords, I write the blog posts and articles, and I never hear how much the client likes them, let alone if they are effective. How does anyone track how successful their SEO articles are? Is there a way to track metrics on my own website so I can definitively say, “with my techniques and creative, unique content, your webpages will receive on average x% more traffic”. How do you track how effective your articles are?

Most times, you have no control over this. And you shouldn’t. That’s the job of the client’s web analytics/internet marketing firm. It’s a whole other specialty – one that costs a mint (usually $3,000 to $5,000 – on the low end — just to get started). I’ve worked with firms that charged a minimum of $10,000 to get started – and it’s because they start with in-depth site analysis and go from there.

 So, one thing I want to make very clear here to all SEO content writers is that it is not your job to provide web analytics services. Make sure your clients understand the role of an SEO writer in the search engine optimization process if they ask for services like this that are outside of your area of expertise. Why?

Because web analytics is a specialty in and of itself and it is very complex, which is why it costs so much. Following is what web analytics is.

Web Analytics Defined (courtesy of Wikipedia):

Web analytics is the measurement, collection, analysis and reporting of internet data for purposes of understanding and optimizing web usage. . . . Web analytics is not just a tool for measuring web traffic but can be used as a tool for business and market research, and to assess and improve the effectiveness of a web site.

Off-site web analytics refers to web measurement and analysis regardless of whether you own or maintain a website. It includes the measurement of a website’s potential audience (opportunity), share of voice (visibility), and buzz (comments) that is happening on the Internet as a whole.

On-site web analytics measure a visitor’s behavior once on your website. This includes its drivers and conversions; for example, the degree to which different landing pages are associated with online purchases. On-site web analytics measures the performance of your website in a commercial context. This data is typically compared against key performance indicators for performance, and used to improve a web site or marketing campaign’s audience response. Google Analytics is the most widely-used on-site web analytics service; although new tools are emerging that provide additional layers of information, including heat maps and session replay.

See how involved web analytics is?

SEO writers work IN CONJUNCTION WITH internet marketing/web analytic firms. Your job is to provide the copy. Their job is to provide the keywords you write on and to “optimize” the site to increase traffic. Content is just one part (a very important part) of web analytics; but it’s not the only ingredient.

So remember, as an SEO writer, you’re just responsible for the content. You should have a fundamental understanding of web analytics and where content fits in the overall scheme, but it’s not your job to be a professional web analyzer.

As for client feedback, ask clients directly. For example, in this case study (pdf file), my client said that the copy we produced for his firm increased their client’s website traffic by 25% (see last page). Also, he said our copy tripled site traffic for another client in 90 days.

This was good to know! 

4. Sometimes I receive assignments with keywords I suspect are not going to be that effective, or they want 10 keywords on one page and the end result, no matter how artful I am with words, is just not elegant or natural. Because I’m not the person negotiating directly with the client, I just do the work I’m assigned to do, but feel that I could do a better job sometimes searching keywords myself. Do you use google’s keyword tool and any particular techniques when you research keywords? What do you feel is the maximum number of keywords per page for a higher page rank while maintaining good quality writing that flows well?

I use Google’s keyword tool, but the vast majority of my firm’s clients provide the keywords they want us to write on. They’ve done the keyword/web analytics research, they have the “big picture” and they know what the client’s overall, long-term objective is.

FYI, I do request some information from clients, eg: (i) where content will be used (newsletter, article marketing, landing page, etc.); (ii) target market; (ii) editorial direction; etc.

As for maximum number of keywords per page for a higher page rank while maintaining good quality writing that flows well, this depends on what the client ordered. Is it a foundational piece – which is a longer article (500-700 words or more), or is it a blog post (which usually runs 250-350 words)?

FYI, keyword density is much less important these days. Usually 1-2% is all that’s requested when it used to be 3-5%. Writing themed SEO content has replaced the “keyword density” driven content.

MANY thanks Yuwanda! I am a big fan of your blog posts and your ebooks. I look forward to your responses 🙂 

Glad to be of help!

P.S.: Did you sign up for the SEO copywriter training class in Jamaica yet?

There are 10 slots left. A nominal deposit reserves your spot! Learning SEO is about so much more than learning a new skill; it’s about changing (taking control of) your life! Proof? See average salary of SEO writers in graphic just below.

P.P.S.: Avoid freelance writing dry spells by making extra money as an affiliate marketer: Learn how to earn $50-$150/day online pretty seamlessly in the best-selling ebook, How to Make Money Placing Ads on Free Classified Ad Sites.

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