Insights is a new interview series on AlisonCummings.com that features communication professionals across the globe. Each has a specific expertise they are passionate about and excel at. I am pleased to offer my blog as a platform to share their perspectives and insights. Enjoy, and please leave a comment sharing your insights!
Belinda Weaver of Copywrite Matters is an SEO copywriter and content marketer, who is considered one of the top copywriters in Australia. We met via Twitter. My offer to submit a guest post somehow morphed into my interviewing her. (Still owe her that post …) Having checked out the friendly competition (see below), I can only conclude that in addition to smarts, good looks and clever domain names are a given for successful Aussie SEO copywriters.
How did you get into this line of work?
I actually graduated from ‘uni’ as a fully-fledged IT nerd (I have the certificate to prove it) and spent 12 years working in properly nerdy IT jobs.
Then I discovered marketing! I went back to uni to get my master’s degree while I worked in various marketing roles at tech companies. I was writing marketing copy every day, and it was one of my favorite parts of the job.
When I decided I wanted a more family-friendly career (and commute), I happened upon the idea of being my own boss as a freelance copywriter.
The “trick” of writing good SEO copy is to let Google know what your content is about, while providing an enticing, persuasive read.
What skills does it take to be a really good SEO copywriter?
First, you need to know how to write good copy. The SEO part is really just another point on the checklist.
Though given less and less importance by Google, keywords still send important signals. A really good SEO copywriter understands where Google looks for clues about content, and knows how to blend in those clues without overpowering the copy.
The “trick” of writing good SEO copy is to let Google know what your content is about, while providing an enticing, persuasive read. That’s why SEO copywriters who are at the top of their game aren’t impacted by the latest Google algorithm update.
What expertise should a small business look for when hiring an SEO Copywriter?
It’s tempting to ask an SEO copywriter how their copy has affected client rankings, but the process of search engine ranking is so complex. Copywriting is just one of the factors to consider. As an SEO copywriter, I can only partially influence your rankings. Everything you do off your website is far more important.
Small businesses should look for SEO copywriters who rank well. Clearly, these individuals are practicing their craft! Also, read the copy on their site. Can you identify the keywords they are trying to rank for? If not, then they are doing SEO right!
Remember, Google ain’t buying what you’re selling. People are.
What do you really love about what you do?
I love capturing a business’ brand personality and communicating it in words. The moment a client says, “I love it!” is pure joy for me.
How do you approach each new assignment?
For me, good copywriting starts with a good brief. I get really detailed briefs from my clients that cover everything from their company history, customers and product information, through to their brand personality and their uniqueness in the market. It’s an intensive process that can be difficult for a business owner, especially if they haven’t spent a lot of time analyzing these kinds of marketing foundations.
But it’s worth it. Once the brief is approved, I get writing. Well, I start researching, then I start writing.
I’d like to say that I diligently plan out each piece of copy before I write it, but I actually find the process of writing sparks my creativity and my ideas start to flow. Of course, that means I have to be really strict with my editing!
Did your service offer always include online marketing and marketing services?
It did. Mainly because my marketing roles have always included online and offline strategies. Marketing may seem to be all about being online right now, but there are plenty of industries and customers who prefer a more physical interaction. In this virtual world of tweets and emails, tangible forms of communication can still prove much more effective!
That said, I discourage businesses from investing in a brochure that will only gather dust on their shelves – simply because they think they should have one – especially when they would benefit from being more creative in their online customer engagement.
My first exposure to SEO copywriting was taking Heather Lloyd-Martin’s certification course. Who are the SEO copywriters you particularly respect and admire?
I regularly chat with all the Australian SEO copywriters bouncing around the first page of Google. Copywriters like Glenn Murray, Kate Toon, Anna Butler and Micky Stuivenberg. I also like Heather Lloyd-Martin. I admire them all, mainly because they have the same idea about SEO copywriting as I do. What I mean to say is they believe that SEO is a long-term strategy that needs consistently exceptional content.
We share tips and advice with each other and jokingly compare our rankings, happily bumping each other off the #1 spot!
In addition to Copywrite Matters, what other online resources would you recommend to someone wanting to become an accomplished SEO copywriter?
That’s kind of you to include The Copy Detective as a recommended resource! I would point people to the blogs of the SEO copywriters on the first page of Google.
And Google Webmaster Tools. Google gives away so much useful information – for FREE.
What is the advantage or disadvantage of specializing in a field or industry vs. being an SEO copywriting “generalist”?
I don’t think you can really be an SEO copywriting generalist as much as you can be a copywriting generalist. You’re either an SEO copywriter, or not. I’m a copywriting generalist, writing for (almost) any and every industry. I find the variety really inspiring.
That said, specializing in a particular industry has its advantages, as you don’t have to work as hard to get in a customer’s headspace. If there is an industry you know really well, it’s definitely worth defining a niche for yourself.
2013 was hailed by many social media pundits as “the year of the online content marketer.” Do you think that’s been the case?
Definitely. This idea of content marketing has made its way from industry leaders down to small- and medium-sized businesses. I think that’s great. More business owners are beginning to see the value in helping their customers – without asking for a sale – as a mean of attracting business.
I think it will only improve as Google forces us to stop fixating on keywords and start offering real value in our content.
What do you see ahead for SEO copywriting in 2014?
I think SEO copywriting is going the way of conversational copywriting. It used to be a “thing” but is quickly becoming what everyone just does.
Going forward, that means that SEO copywriters who focus on low-grade SEO techniques will find themselves in a shrinking market as businesses become more educated about what it takes to rank well online. It takes authenticity, and that doesn’t come from crappy articles stuffed with keywords.
Belinda Weaver is a professional copywriter confidently
walking the line between writing effective copy and creating
an engaging brand personality.