On SEO Copywriting

Posted by Robin on Feb 22nd, 2009

Before you hire an SEO copywriter, read this.

The bar for entry into SEO copywriting is very low. Often, requests for SEO copywriting contain “rigorous” demands like “Must be a native English speaker.” But even if you’re not outsourcing and the writing seems okay on the surface, some copywriters will—to put it bluntly—make you look bad.

If you lose even one sale because your site looks unprofessional, is it worth it?

Writing is more than the ability to string a sentence together.

Amateur writing lacks grace. It seems fine on the surface, but the rhythm is off. It’s like listening to your tone-deaf brother sing in the shower. Sure, he knows the words and you recognize the song, but there’s no way he should quit his day job. Bad SEO copywriting is like that. I’m not even talking about keyword-stuffed garbage; that’s easy to avoid. I’m talking about writing that is flat. Dull. Regurgitated. You wouldn’t pay to hear your brother sing, so why would you pay for writing that’s just as tone-deaf?

Amateur SEO writing often contains usage errors. I can’t even count how many times I’ve stumbled across copywriters looking for SEO work who can’t tell “complement” from “compliment.” It breaks my heart every time.

Amateur writing breaks the rules, but in a way that says, “I didn’t read the warning label” rather than “I’m a rebel with a cause.” In spite of what your English teacher told you (and yes, I used to be one) it’s often fine to break the rules. For instance, you can include a sentence fragment at times, for impact. Like this. But amateur copywriters break the rules from lack of knowledge, not from sensitivity to their readers.

Valuable web content is more than just “okay.” It accomplishes things. On a sales site, it makes people want to buy. On a news site, it delivers new insights and keeps readers coming back.

It’s more than grammar. It’s more than accurate research and good sentence structure. It’s about IDEAS. When you hire a copywriter, you’re hiring someone to give form to insight.

Good writing delivers on a promise. It yields wisdom. It stokes desire.

Good writing sets off fireworks. Bad writing sets off alarm bells. Which are you paying for?

Why I Don’t Blog Often and Why I Blog at All

Posted by Robin on Feb 14th, 2009

You may notice that I don’t post here very often.

That means I don’t practice what I preach when it comes to blogging. Updating a blog shows you care and causes people to check back more often, increasing loyalty, brand awareness, and knowledge of your services or products. Maintaining a blog is also a way to update your website and keep it current, meaning that search engines may crawl it more often.

So why don’t I blog more frequently?

It’s not because I don’t care. On the contrary, it’s because I care too much. I’m usually too busy with actual client copywriting to make blogging a priority. I’d rather focus on the work itself, and so far, I haven’t needed to increase my blog posting for marketing purposes.

Of course, this is the same argument I might get from a client about why she shouldn’t blog. And it’s true that a two-entry blog that never gets updated won’t do much good at all, and might even backfire, making it look like you don’t follow through. However, there’s a big difference between a blog that’s been abandoned without a plan and one that’s just not updated often. It’s better to have a few quality posts that actually say something rather than frenetically posting about nothing every day just for the sake of posting.

If I’m really honest, it’s also partly because I’m limelight-shy. I like to be behind the scenes.  I engage in other blog sins too, like not having comments open and not having a blog roll. Basically, I violate every blogging tenet out there. If the point is to build community, I’m failing miserably—on purpose.

So why do I blog at all? Why not just keep quiet?

Building a community is not the only reason to have a blog. I like to keep the site at least somewhat current and make it clear that I’m still taking clients. Plus, I like to educate site visitors about website copywriting and get up on my grammar soapbox from time to time. The blog provides a way for me to do those things. For common questions, I can simply point people to a relevant post.  Furthermore, every post has the potential to demonstrate the beauty of the long tail, getting me visitors from specific or unusual search queries.

And who knows—maybe someday I’ll get more serious about the blog for its own sake, or I’ll decide I need to ramp up my marketing efforts. At that point, it will have been around for a while and have at least a few posts built up, which never hurts.

In other words, I blog now so that I have a better foundation for blogging in the future.