I had a pleasure to ask Heather Lloyd-Martin a few questions in relation to SEO and copywriting, and thank her for taking time out from her busy schedule.
For my Readers that haven’t come across you yet, tell us briefly about your background, and how you got into SEO Copywriting?
I was working as an online writer in the mid 1990’s. Back then, I was split between writing online and offline content. I would help small businesses with their marketing – and I was also freelancing for publications like Entrepreneur Magazine. It was a very exciting time.
When I first started my online writing career, I was also on a discussion list called “Women Talk Business.” That’s where I met Jill Whalen (owner of HighRankings.com.) She was (and still is) an SEO – and she needed a writer. Together, we started the online newsletter RankWrite, Danny Sullivan asked us to speak at Search Engine Strategies – and the rest is history!
After just a couple years, I stopped doing “other” writing and focused 100% on SEO copywriting.
You have been Voted one of 2012′s Top Women in SEO, which is a great achievement, what would you say has been the key behind your success?
I had to noodle this one a bit. I think one key to my success is that I’ve always “given back.” It’s amazing how many of the top search marketers spend quite a bit of their time basically working for free and educating the industry. Sure, this certainly helps to build their brand – but answering forum questions or speaking at conferences isn’t “billable time.” If anything, speaking at an industry event guarantees that your life will be wacky during the conference. Ah, for the days we could just attend a conference and not work at the same time.
Helping others is so important. Plus, as an indirect result, people see what you’re doing and get to know your name. They may reach out when they need help, or suggest you as a resource. And occasionally, they may nominate you for an award. That’s pretty cool.
Do you think that the SEO Industry is facing an identity crisis after Google launched SPYW (Search Plus Your World)?
Ha! Good question. I think that we’re all in “watch and see what happens” mode. Of course, I’ve seen posts discussing the “death of SEO” – and I certainly don’t see that happening. At the same time, Google is making it clear that social is exceptionally important (even if quite a few folks haven’t quite jumped on the Google+ bandwagon yet.)
As an interesting side note, people have told me that they’ve switched to Bing specifically because of SPYW. I doubt it’s been enough people to get Google’s attention, but it does show that when some people are in “search mode,” they want to search. Not deal with social listings, too.
For new business looking to establish a brand and presence online, what key tips do you recommend starting off with?
– Hire a designer to build your site. Don’t try to do it yourself.
– Same with the content. You will go much further, faster, if you hire out to a professional who understands good copywriting – and how to work with the search engines
– Network, network, network. Meet folks who are in your industry and get to know them. Although they may be your “competition,” it’s amazing how many people are more than happy to help. Plus, you may land some guest blogging opportunities that can help drive traffic.
– If you are local, build your Google Places page and start gathering reviews.
– Have a marketing plan set up before you launch. That way, you know exactly what you need to do every day to grow your business. “Winging it” without a plan typically doesn’t work out well – and it takes longer to see the success you want.
Having a good website design is one factor of online success, how can good copywriting on a website benefit a business online?
Easy. It helps make them more money. It helps their content be more sharable. It helps their customers connect with their brand. Good content will more than pay for itself over the long run.
Many website owners when building a website put their main focus onto to the look and feel of the website, and to be honest not much attention is given to the text, and usually it’s done last minute. How do you educate your clients or general users on importance of good content on a company’s website?
Oh, yeah. I see this happening all of the time. A company can spend thousands on the design, and then have an intern write the copy. That rarely works…
The main thing to remember about your site content is it’s your “main” online salesperson. Would you hire a sales guy (or gal) without any sales experience? No. You’d be afraid that they wouldn’t be able to close the deal. In fact, their inexperience would actually cost you money in the long run.
Your Web content needs to grab your reader and immediately connect with them (just like a good salesperson.) It needs to showcase your company’s benefits in a way that resonates with your target market. If it doesn’t do that, you’re leaving money on the table.
What would you define as Good or Bad copywriting?
My joke is that people “know good copywriting when they see it.” Good writing elicits an emotional response. It connects with the reader. It moves them to take action – whether that means buying something, clicking to another page or reading another fantastically-written blog post. Have you ever lost yourself in an article because it was so well written? That’s an example of good copywriting.
“Bad” copywriting is typically fluffy – the writer used too many words to get the point across. The copy drags on and on. It’s boring and not written in a style that the reader can connect with and enjoy. Keyphrase-stuffed copy, in my opinion, is bad copy. There is so much emphasis on “writing for Google” that the reader’s experience is lost.
Wikipedia defines Content marketing as an umbrella encompassing all marketing formats that involve the creation and sharing of content in order to engage current and potential consumer bases. First it was Text Content, which was given priority, then the images too started getting the focus and now people prefer, videos and infographics for quick updates. Do you think this will affect the writing skills of the coming generation, which is growing up watching more videos than reading books?
That’s a hard one. I think that people are still reading – however, they may be consuming content in an entirely different way. So, they may not be reading a print book – but they are reading on their Kindle (or Kindle app.)
At the same time, it will be interesting to see how the upcoming “connected generations” communicate and share. For instance, for a certain generation, it’s normal to shorten words and send texts like, “how ru?” Some people (like me) just can’t shorten words like that – it goes against how we were taught to write. So, we shall see….
You recently wrote an article about how to charge for copywriting service. For business in the beginning cash flow can be a problem, what would you say is a reasonable price for a start-up business to pay for copywriting services?
Wow, that can really depend. “Startup” can mean a whole lot of different things. The important thing is to connect with a writer who “gets” your business. Do they ask good questions? Are their samples good? Is their site well optimized (that is, can you easily find them in the search results.) What do their clients say about them. If you hire a good copywriter, they will pay for themselves many, many times over.
The important thing to know is that looking for a “cheap” writer is not a smart move. Your writer reflects your brand, and you want to have incredibly great site content. If you hire the cheapest person, you won’t get the SEO or the conversion results you want.
What’s the craziest thing that’s happened to you since you joined the industry?
Actually, there hasn’t been anything too crazy (outside of what happens at industry parties!)
Which are the international conferences and Summits you recommend for the upcoming content writers to attend for keeping up with the latest trends and developments of the industry?
Oddly, not all of the SEO conference series discuss SEO content. SMX discusses it. As does Search Engine Strategies. I’ve been thinking about holding an SEO copywriting summit someday, just because so many folks have been asking about it. If any readers are interested, please let me know and I’ll see what I can schedule when!
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