SEO copywriting Q & A from my Writer’s Digest Webinar

pens for writing seo contentYesterday, I had the pleasure of running a Webinar for Writer’s Digest. The presentation ran ten minutes overtime, so I promised  audience members that their questions would be answered in today’s blog post.

If you were on the Webinar – thank you so much! And if you’re a freelance (or in-house) writer wondering if SEO copywriting would be a smart skill set to have, read on. You may find the answers to your questions here!

Have a question that I didn’t address? Please feel free to contact me. I’m happy to help!

Q: How often does a new Google algorithm come out? Does every new algorithm mean you change your copywriting style?

Google is constantly tweaking their algorithm. Some are minor updates – and some are pretty far-reaching (such as the Panda update.) However, that doesn’t mean that you need to change your copywriting style. Focus on your readers first, and follow SEO content writing best practices.

Having said that, it’s very important that you keep up with what’s happening in the industry. You may learn that you need to handle certain situations differently (such as hyperlinking keyphrases or using synonyms in your content.) You won’t need to spend hours a day digging into the latest SEO news. But do plan to spend some time every week reading the trades.

Q: When choosing a keyphrase, as on Google keywords, is there an ideal number we should look for? How much weight should we give the “high” competitive terms? What if we need to go after those terms?

This depends on a lot of factors. For instance, an authority site that’s been up for years has a better chance of scoring a competitive keyphrase than a brand-new, small business site. Additionally, it’s always nice when you can go after the keyphrase “sweet spot” (highly trafficked keyphrases that aren’t as competitive.) For instance, the keyphrase [freelance writer] may be tough to position for. However, the phrase, [lab supply freelance writer] will be much easier.

You may want to check out the Writer’s Digest tutorial for more information about keyphrase research.

Q: How do you access the Google keyword research tool.

Easy! You can find it here.

Q: How does the SEO Certificate program work (cost, length, etc.)?

Thanks so much for asking. You can learn more the SEO Copywriting Certification training here.

Q: I’m hearing a lot of rumbling that search is changing dramatically because of mobile, and that within a couple of years Google will be moot, because everyone will be using mobile apps. True?

Ah yes. This is a variation of the “SEO is dead” conversation that happens a couple times a year. :) It’s true that mobile is changing the game – but people still use Google (and Bing) on their Android devices, iPads, iPhones, etc. And even if Google did suddenly go away (doubtful,) whatever solution would be left would still be providing answers based on content.

Search has been “changing dramatically” since I’ve been in the business. And actually, that’s one of the fun things about search. If you like working in an industry that’s ever-changing, SEO copywriting could be a great career choice for you!

Q: Does hyperlinking around two different keyphrases in a blog post help or hurt your SEO?

You should optimize for two to three keyphrases per page. Hyperlinking is fine – the key is to do it intelligently and mix up your anchor text. If you’re hyperlinking every instance of “cashmere sweaters,” that won’t help your SEO (it could actually hurt it.) Here’s an interesting article about how Google’s Penguin update impacted hyperlinking the keyphrase.

Q: Do you have any recommendations for raising your ranking for seasonal sites (like Christmas only) since they’re only seasonal, they aren’t updated as often, even though it’s formatted as a blog (santa’s elf’s blog for children).

Ideally, you’d create content year ’round. If you’re just looking for seasonal traffic, PPC (pay per click,) may be a better marketing avenue. You may also consider building a social media campaign to drive traffic (say a Facebook or Twitter campaign.)

Q: Approximately how many days/weeks, fulltime, of SEO training and beginner’s work would it take for an experienced writer/journalist to reach a level of competency to work professionally with corporate clients for $100-plus/hour?

It depends on the type of “issues” you want to deal with. If you’re a great writer and understand SEO content, you could accomplish this in a few months. If you want to work hand-in-hand with the IT department, consult on content changes and deal with more “hairy” issues, you’ll need a year (or more) of increasing experience under your belt. Having said that, one of the big issues that writers have is charging what they’re worth. Case studies and testimonials will help showcase your value (and congratulations for thinking ahead – that’s great!)

Q: Are there ways to include key phrases as hidden text?

Yes, but Google will spot it and punish you with a spam penalty. The “hidden text” trick is an old one that has been around as long as I’ve been in SEO (and that’s a really long time!) Anytime you’re thinking of “hiding” text (or including light grey text on a white background so it’s less noticeable,) you’re walking on very thin ice. It’s better to focus producing quality content instead.

Q: Is it true that Google is putting less emphasis on inbound links, and penalizing sites for having link wheels, etc.?

Google has certainly cracked down on spammy link campaigns. Gaining quality inbound links is still important – and the key word is “quality.” Submitting your content to random article sites won’t help you.

For some great advice on link building, check out Debra Mastaler’s site Alliance-Link (and sign up for her newsletter.) You’ll learn how smart link building is more about smart PR and marketing than “I’ll link to you if you link to me.”

Q: How do you find out about the algorithmic changes?

Here’s a fun way to learn more about the “weather” patterns of Google’s algorithm. You’ll also want to pay attention to the trade sites such as:

Search Engine Land

Search Engine Watch

Search Engine Roundtable

Matt Cutt’s blog (Matt works for Google and is known as “Google Guy.”)

Q: My google analytics usually blocks the keywords that people have typed in to get to my site – is there any way around this, as I’d like to know how people find me.

Ah, yes. That is irritating, isn’t it?  If folks are logged into Google (and a huge number of folks are,) their keyword data won’t show in your analytics. Here’s a way around it, compliments of Jill Whalen (I would recommend signing up for her newsletter, too – it’s a good one!

Thanks to @writersdigest for inviting me to speak!

Are you looking for a fast, low-cost way to learn about your SEO content opportunities and problems? Check out my new SEO Content Site Review.