Should You Outsource Your SEO Copywriting? 5 Ways to Find Out

Last month, I discussed how to successfully bring your SEO copywriting in-house. However, what about businesses sitting on the other side of the in-house versus outsourcing fence?

Last month, I discussed how to successfully bring your SEO copywriting in-house. However, what about businesses sitting on the other side of the in-house versus outsourcing fence? Yes, outsourcing means “relinquishing control” of your copywriting. However, getting outside help can make a huge impact on your campaign—plus it allows your in-house team to focus on your core competencies rather than SEO copywriting.

If you’ve been wondering what to do, consider these five “You should outsource if …” scenarios.

… You need new marketing content—fast!
Strategic outsourcing can help you reach your content marketing goals faster, even if you have an in-house SEO copywriting team. Consider what writing makes sense to keep in-house (such as important branding pages,) and outsource the rest. For instance, writers can quickly add keyphrases to existing copy and make your pages more “search-engine friendly.” Finding freelancers for a short-term writing fix is a smart, strategic move.

… Your team has no idea how to write optimized content—and doesn’t want to know.
Some marketing departments eat up SEO copywriting theory like candy and relish every training moment. Some prefer to stay far, far away from it, keeping within their copywriting comfort zone. And that’s OK. Just because you can DIY doesn’t mean that it’s a smart move. You’ll make faster progress if you let a professional make your optimization dreams come true. Besides, if you don’t want to write something, it’s easy to let it fall off your desk … and your site’s search engine rankings suffer as a result.

… Your team tried writing the content—but something isn’t working.
Maybe your conversions are tanking and you can’t tell why. Or your rankings dropped after Google’s May Day update, and you’re not sure of a safe next step. In this situation, outsourcing your content marketing provides you two huge advantages. From a SEO standpoint, an expert copywriter can “see” opportunities (and yes, challenges) that your team doesn’t. Rewriting the content will allow them to revisit your keyphrases, check your strategy and tighten up your SEO. Secondly, a fresh perspective can lead to some amazing discoveries. You may have thought that your site copy was just fine—but your copywriter can show how to make it even better. I’ve seen some amazing transformations (and conversions) when a company lets an outside copywriting take the reins.

… Your content screams for a strategy—and you need an expert to help.
Too many companies launch their content initiatives willy-nilly without asking themselves a simple question: “Why?” Rather than launching everything content marketing-related, a strategist can help you decide what to focus on now and oversee the process. Your in-house team would still be doing all the work. But you’d be focusing on the right work for right now—and your strategist would be helping you every step of the way.

… You need a fresh start.
I hear, “I hate the content, but we don’t know how to fix it” way more than I’d like. It’s sad how companies wear their site content like a bad haircut: They know it doesn’t flatter them, but it’s what they’re stuck with. Just like you’d (hopefully) visit a new hairstylist if the old one continued to give you a “bowl cut,” a new-to-you SEO content writer can take your existing writing and make it better, snazzier and more SEO-friendly. Imagine: You can actually start to like your content again, rather than apologizing to prospects. How would that feel?

Outsourcing your SEO content marketing will cost you more money as compared to keeping everything in-house, true. But at the end of the day, “relinquishing control” and letting someone else master your messaging can drive some impressive revenues—and create content that you finally enjoy. It’s well worth it.

Is Your Catalog Site Missing the SEO Copywriting Boat?

Yesterday, the marketing coordinator for a well-known catalog site contacted me about SEO copywriting services. “Our product pages aren’t ranking,” she said. “We heard we should ‘add keyphrases to our copy,’ but we’re afraid that keyphrases will make the copy sound spammy.” Ah yes, the old “keyphrases are bad” myth.

Yesterday, the marketing coordinator for a well-known catalog site contacted me about SEO copywriting services.

“Our product pages aren’t ranking,” she said. “We heard we should ‘add keyphrases to our copy,’ but we’re afraid that keyphrases will make the copy sound spammy.”

Ah, yes, the old “keyphrases are bad” myth. If this was expressed in a mathematical equation, it would look something like this:

Keyphrases + Content = Bad Copy That Doesn’t Convert

And that’s just not true. In fact, adding keyphrases into site copy can do more than help the page position in the search engines (although that, by itself, is a huge benefit). Good SEO copywriting is seamless. It’s powerful. And yes—despite those pesky keyphrases—it can help conversions. I discussed this quite a bit in a previous post called, “SEO Copywriting Is Dead. Long Live SEO Copywriting,” on my site’s blog.

Unfortunately, scads of catalog marketers are missing out on search engine rankings. Rather than realizing that a Web site is a completely different medium (requiring a different approach), they instead upload their print catalogs’ text and images without changing a word of copy. Then, when they check their search engine rankings, they’re convinced that “this SEO stuff doesn’t work.” When told they have to change their copy to make this “SEO stuff work,” they jump back in alarm: “Why should we change our copy when we already spent a lot of money writing it for our catalog?”

Um, because you wrote it for your catalog … not for an online environment. Those are two different marketing avenues. People don’t have to search for your products when they have your catalog in their hand, they can just flip to a page. But if you want folks to find your pages in the search engines, you’ll need to play the search engine game … and play it well.

But heck, don’t take my word for it. Let’s take a peek at a “traditional” brick-and-mortar site that does it right: Brookstone.

Brookstone is a master at creating value-added, intelligent content that also happens to be keyphrase rich. Its product pages are written from scratch, with keyphrases skillfully woven into the body copy. User-generated product reviews help encourage conversions (people feel more comfortable about making a buying decision when they can read what other people like and don’t like about a product). Brookstone includes a well-produced product video. Heck, even its product names like “Tranquil Moments Sleep Sound Therapy System” and “Fold-A-Way Rowing Machine” contain keyphrases.

Does it work? Heck, yes. Brookstone’s “Fold-A-Way Rowing Machine” page is positioning in Google’s top 10. As is its “Sleep Sound Therapy System” page.

And go figure … the site copy can’t be considered “spammy” in the least.

Some takeaways to consider with your own catalog/e-commerce site are:

  1. Is your product copy directly uploaded from your print catalog—or is it the “standard” product description appearing on the product packaging? A smart rule: If you see multiple sites with the same product copy, rewrite yours so it’s completely original. Yes, it’s time consuming. But this one act alone can immediately differentiate you from the hundreds (or thousands) of other sites offering the same thing.
  2. Know that user reviews are good for more than just reviewing the product; they can be incredible helpful for search engine positions. Every time someone posts a review, it provides your site “free content” that you didn’t have to source somewhere else.
  3. Keyphrase usage matters. You don’t want to repeat your keyphrase incessantly within your copy. But it is important to research your keyphrases, set a keyphrase strategy and use keyphrases on the page. Otherwise, your page probably won’t be found.

At the end of the day, catalog sites can definitely benefit from smart SEO copywriting techniques. Not only do SEO copywriting strategies help your pages position better in the engines, the additional, in-depth information gives your prospects the information they want (which, ultimately, encourages conversions). Everyone wins.