Today, I'm happy to present a guest post from Hillary St. Jonn of SEMrush.
We've been having many back and forth conversations about the new features that SEMrush is developing, but that's actually above and beyond the goal of today's post.
Hillary is a mastermind when it comes to creating search-engine-worthy content and given her experience with hiring writers for her own projects, we knew she'd be a great candidate for “content marketing month” here at HPD.
If this is the first time you've heard about our themed months, then we may not be doing our jobs correctly! Each and every month, we put together interviews and special bonuses for members-only of our affiliate marketing course, the Human Proof Method. I won't dive in too deep here, but if you're interested in levelling up your internet marketing skills – I suggest you check it out.
Now that we've properly introduced why Hilary's a top notch expert on content and SEO, I'll let her take it away!
We have all heard the saying that “Content is King,” but if your content isn’t optimized for search engines, it will reach much fewer views then if it would if you had taken the time to optimize it.If you consider yourself a fan of SEO in any way, then I am sure that you always optimize the content you create.
But if you are anything like me, you must be busy at times, and sometimes, maybe you want to hire out content writing to someone else.Now just because someone is a content writer, it doesn’t mean they know SEO.
And most likely they have done zero on keyword research on your topic (if they even know what that is). Maybe this is why content marketing and SEO are currently considered separate in the digital marketing sphere.
To me, they are one and the same.
You don’t have good SEO if you aren’t creating good content. And if your content isn’t optimized, you are missing out on opportunities for new viewers to see your site. Unfortunately, many content writers are only focused at writing.
Which means you have to give clear directions and research before to make sure the content is optimized for your keywords.Give your content writer as much information as possible.
If you are vague, then there is a great chance you are not going to like what you get back.
The clearer you are about what you want, the more likely you are going to get what you want.Let’s examine what is needed to set your content writers up for success when it comes to SEO.
Give Them Keywords & Tell Them How to Use Them
You should be doing keyword research anyways, so you know what people want to read and what people are looking for. Now you don’t want writers to feel like they have to use a certain amount of keywords or stuff them in places.
I ask them to use one and use something similar when it comes to others (maybe adding stop words here to make it flow more naturally).Also, you don’t want to give writers so much information that they are correcting your template.
Writers are talented at writing. Make sure you leave them some freedom to do that. I usually leave them with an outline.
I give them the title of the article, and then perhaps subtopics. I also include semantic keywords & recommended text length using SEMrush’s “SEO Content Template.”Don’t forget to give the writers the URL you want of your content, so they set it right if they are the ones uploading it to your content management system.
Sidenote: Hey, Kelvin here. I just wanted to define that we actually only have our writers write and let a virtual assistant who's trained at optimizations in WordPress handle all that. Different strokes for different folks!
Share Your Voice
If you have a voice and you want your content writer to write in that voice, you better let them know.
Give them examples of articles in the voice you want.
When you correct their work, show them the corrections and even explain why you changed something so they can improve in the future.
You may not have a voice though.
Last time I hired a writer, he wrote in his own voice (under his own name). That is ok too, you don’t have to have everyone write in the same voice. But if you do want that, you better communicate it to your content writer.
Let them know before they start writing your content how they should write it, so you get an amazing piece of content the first time around!
Tell Them Where To Link Internally
Lately, I’ve been playing around with pillar content and topic clusters, and internal linking is important.
Therefore I may tell the content writer what pages I want to link to so they can make sure to use the word or phrase somewhere in the content.You also always have the option of going through the content later and adding links yourself.
There is just the risk that the keyword or phrase or context you want to link to isn’t in the material, and you will need to add sentences so you can get your links in. It is much more practical to inform your content writer what links you want them to link to before they write the article.
That way they can see what is important and what isn’t and create better content for you.
Give Them Clear Feedback
Once you hire a writer, work with them on how they can improve and give you an amazing piece of work the first time around.
I have a template I use with precise information about the content I’m looking for.
After content is delivered, give them feedback so they can create even better material next time.
If you are going to hire the same writer over and over again (and eventually you want to, it is just less work), you might as well give them clear feedback so they can improve.
They will appreciate it as well. No writer enjoys re-writing their content over and over again!Start with what you liked about their work and what worked well.
People love hearing what they did great before you dive into what didn’t work.
Put It in Writing
If you have video chats or phone calls with your writers, that is great.
But make sure you put everything in writing when it comes to what content you want, and make sure you put it in a clear format.
Always have the same format each time so your writer knows what to expect.
People love familiarity.
Here is an outline you can start with:
- Page Title:
- Page url:
- Main Keyword:
- Links (to internal or external pages):
- Top ranking page (don't link to this page. We need our page to be better then these pages. We want people to read and share our page more than these):
- Semantically related words:
- Recommended Text Length:
- Sub Topics:
This covers all the topics in this article.
When you fill this out each time in a document and give it to your content writer, there will be no questions of what was requested.
When you set your content writer up for success, you are going to have a smoother process and most likely get what you want the first time around.
Then your content will be optimized for SEO the first time around, vs. you having to go back and correct content later.
If you follow these tips, you will save yourself time and have your content writers create great content for readers while also optimized for search.