Is your SEO copy crap? 8 ways to tell

Last week, a prospect asked what I thought of his site copy.

I took one look and resisted the urge to say, “Um, how much did you pay for this?” The writing was…bad.  Picture a 500-word, below-the-fold paragraph with no hyperlinks, no call-to-action…and what’s worse…

All of the copy was italicized. All of it.

Imagine reading that on a mobile device.

The prospect knew that something seemed “off.”  But he thought, “I hired someone who specializes in SEO copy. Well, maybe the copy should be that way.”

Not by a long shot.

Life is too short to pay for bad copy. If your SEO copy sucks, that means that it’s time to send it back to the writer and get her to fix it.

Here’s how to separate the stupendous from the sucky:

  • Read the copy out loud and hear how it “sounds.” If your content sounds clunky – or if the keyphrases stand out like a sore thumb – send it back to the writer. Over-optimized copy will not do you any favors – and you don’t want your readers bouncing out of your site the second that they arrive.

 

  • Do you have the urge to bring out your red pen and slice unnecessary words? Smart SEO copywriting is tight – which means that the writer is using as few words as possible to bring the point home. If you feel like the content is “fluffy,” send it back for editing.

 

  • Does the copy make your company’s benefits “pop?” Or is it all focused around features? One tip: Review how many times the writer used the words “we” and “our company.” If you find that it’s focusing too much on features and not enough on benefits, send it back.  If the page is live, try out this fun “We-We Calculator” for feedback.

 

  • Is the copy focused around one single keyword? Good SEO copywriting focused on two-to-three keyphrase variations. If you’re seeing the same word repeated over and over, have the writer rewrite it.

 

  • Are there spelling or grammatical errors? Granted, your writer is human – and things happen. But if you are seeing multiple errors and you’re finding yourself correcting the document, stop. That’s what your writer is supposed to do for you.

 

  • Is there a call-to-action? This could mean linking to a sales page, another blog post, or encouraging folks to sign up for a newsletter. Your writer needs to weave your site’s (and your page’s) conversion goal into the copy. If they haven’t, it’s time for a rewrite.

 

  • How is your page Title (what appears as the clickable link on the search engine results page.) Does it include the page keywords? Is it enticing? Or is it a bunch of keyphrases separated by pipes? If you’re thinking, “Hmm, I don’t think I’d click on this result,” send it back to the writer.

 

  • Is the page easy to read? Long, scrolling paragraphs are visually overwhelming – especially on a mobile device.  If the paragraphs are long – and you’re not seeing any subheadlines that break up the text – have your writer check out these Web writing tips before they rewrite the copy.

What happens if your writer revises the content – yet your SEO copy is still crap? It may be time to let the writer go and find someone else who better suits your needs. Better to take the loss now and move on, then upload crappy copy and suffer the consequences.