SEO for website owners. When you hire a freelance writer to write “SEO posts,” what does that mean?

SEO for website owners. When you hire a freelance writer to write “SEO posts,” what does that mean?
I’m publishing two pages at the same time: this one, and a companion piece, What SEO means to the copywriter. Writer or customer, it’s probably a good idea to read both. So: SEO for website owners. What’s it about?
There are plenty of fine writers who will tell you that SEO is a waste of time. They don’t mean it – or, at least, I hope they don’t mean it. What they do mean is that the focus we saw in the early 2010s on SEO at the expense of everything else led nowhere and turned off more potential customers for the websites that used it than it attracted. Good SEO will get people to visit your website. It will NOT persuade them to stay, and still less to buy. For that you still need what you always needed: excellent content. Without that, the business that is your only reason for having a website is going nowhere.

SEO for website owners: does it mean keywords?

When I talk about focus on SEO at the expense of everything else, keywords are at the heart of the problem. The idea was:

  1. Your potential customers are searching online for a business like yours;
  2. They do it by telling a search engine what it is they are looking for;
  3. Find out which expressions – words and phrases – are most often keyed into the search engine by your potential customers. Those are your keywords;
  4. Sprinkle the keywords all over your post and/or page;
  5. Next time someone searches using those words and phrases, the search engine sends them to your site;
  6. They buy from you.

It all worked fine (and still does) through 1 to 5. It was only number 6 that didn’t work. Five out of six is 83% and that’s a very good success rate. So everything was fine? Well… No. The percentage of those who came to the site, looked, didn’t like what they saw and left without buying anything was 100%. And that’s the only measure that matters.

SEO for website owners: you need great content
The reason they didn’t buy was that the site wasn’t very good. All the keyword sprinkling in the world couldn’t change that. That does not mean that you should forget about keywords – it simply means that you have to make your website the best it can possibly be, and that includes the best writing you can buy. In the current jargon: Content Is King. (It’s also Queen. I have no idea why jargonistas are so sexist).
But you do still need the keywords, and everything else that SEO involves. Turn the argument on its head: okay, there’s no point getting lots of people to your website if no one buys, but there’s also no point in having a fabulous website if no one ever visits it. SEO is what gets them there.

SEO is not just about keywords

Here’s a diagram of some of the stuff that goes into SEO. You’ll find this in more depth in What SEO means to the copywriter.

SEO for website owners: elements of SEO

Ignore the cowboys

SEO for website owners: ignore the cowboysYou get emails every week from people promising to get you onto the first page of search engine results when someone is looking for a business like yours. I know you do, because everyone gets those emails. Including me. Ignore them. They can’t get you onto the first page and, very often, the techniques they use are the kind that infuriate search engines to the point where they bar you: they refuse to include your website even on the 1000th page. You become invisible. Yoast, considered by many to be Numero Uno in matters of SEO, says, “Ranking will come automatically if your website is of extremely high quality.” And they are right. It isn’t about tricks; it’s about quality.

SEO for website owners: How much do you want the writer to do?

Skilled, experienced writers can do a wide range of things, but you have to decide what you want the writer to take on. The default division of responsibilities looks like this:

Creative and Technical: the division of responsibilities

The writer does the creative part – the top half of the diagram – and someone else is hired to take care of uploading to the website and all the technical tasks that go with that. There are writers – I’m one of them – who will handle everything from soup to nuts if that’s what you want us to do (usually, it isn’t); we’ll research the keywords, do the latent semantic indexing (see What SEO means to the copywriter), write an outline, write the piece and upload it, taking care of all the SEO requirements that the website you have permits. Understand, though, that if you want that you’ll be facing a significantly higher fee. And why not? You’ll be substituting this for the fee you would have paid to someone else to do that part of the job.


Length is not actually part of SEO, but there’s a great deal of research to say that there is a limit to the number of words people will read and I am approaching it. If you want to know more, fill out this form and let’s talk one-to-one.

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