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June 16, 2011

Outsource SEO Content or Train Your Team: How to Choose

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My, how the world of SEO copywriting has changed in this post-Panda world.

Gone is the “$5 per page, how many times can you mention the keyword” mentality. Instead, it’s “How can we create content that will knock the socks off of our readers?”

I love this question (and really, it’s about darn time!). Here are your options:

  1. Outsource your SEO copywriting.
  2. Train your in-house staff in SEO content development.
  3. A hybrid approach.

Let’s talk about the pros and cons.

It’s best to outsource your SEO copy if …

  • Your current copywriting/marketing team is already maxed out on time.
  • You don’t employ any writers (nor do you want to).
  • Time is more important than money.

Have you found yourself saying, “I know we need to rewrite our Web page copy, but our team already has X, Y and Z to do first?” Enter the perfect stress-saving solution: Outsourcing.

Questions?

A good SEO copywriting firm (or freelance SEO copywriter) can transform your content ideas into an engaging blog post, sales page or tweet – and you won’t have to lift a finger.

Plus, an expert SEO copywriter can set your entire SEO content strategy, revise your tone and feel for better conversions and build your editorial calendar. It’s the ultimate full-service solution.

Of course, there are specific challenges.

  • It may take your team some time to find the right freelance writing firm for your needs. It’s best to actually call someone (I know, I know) and get a “feel” for the company. Plus, that gives you the opportunity to explain your needs, ask questions and get a sense for the writer’s experience levels.
  • If you’re working with an SEO company, they may prefer if you used their writing services (assuming the company provides writing services). Certainly take a look at their writing style, but consider shopping around too. A smart SEO copywriter can work seamlessly with your SEO firm and can bring new ideas to the table.
  • Know that good writing costs money – but you’ll make more money, too. Experienced copywriting strategists – those who write to sell – can write pages that make cash registers ring. Savvy bloggers can build a solid community for your brand and help build buzz (here’s more about the social media writing versus SEO copywriting differences). Yes, you are paying $X per month. But the returns are well worth it.

Training your in-house staff is a great idea if …

  • You currently have copywriters on staff or people who want to learn how to write online.
  • You can afford to pay a larger “chunk” for training now, knowing that you’ll save money on future outsourcing costs.
  • You work in a highly technical industry, and freelance writers typically have a hard time grasping what you do and how to position your company.

In-house SEO copywriting training is a huge (and missed) opportunity for many companies. If you can keep the writing in-house – and your team knows exactly what they’re doing – you can create incredible amounts of high-quality content in a short period of time. Plus, you won’t be paying outsourcing fees. That alone will save your company thousands of dollars (or even tens of thousands).

The thing is: SEO copywriting training always pays for itself. Always. I’ve trained writing teams who have gone back to the office, changed how they created their copy, and seen almost immediate results. How cool is that? Giving your team the knowledge and power they need to write high-performing copy is a wonderful thing.

There are specific challenges to training your in-house team, too.

  • Training takes time. I know that companies love to send their writers to SEO conferences telling them to “learn everything you can and come back and train the team.” News flash: it never works that way. Like any other discipline, learning the SEO copywriting ropes takes time. If you want your writers to produce killer content for your site, you have to give them the tools they need.
  • Training costs money. In a perfect world, your in-house team would receive customized SEO content training. That way, your team members get feedback on your specific challenges and opportunities, and you have a clear road map moving forward. Of course, “customized” tends to mean “costly,” so it’s not the best option for every company. If you’re in money-saving mode, consider sending your team members to a “general” SEO copywriting training class. They won’t get personalized assistance, but they will learn best practices and some great copy generation tips.

What if you want a little from column A and a little from column B?

Then, the hybrid approach is for you.

There are lots of ways to meet your content marketing goals depending on your individual needs:

  • Outsource your most important conversion pages, and train your writers to write the other pages.
  • Hire an expert SEO copywriting/content strategist to oversee your in-house (or freelance) team and set strategy.
  • Work with a content development firm and ask them to create monthly training webinars for your team.
  • Go to a “general” training and hire a content strategist to help you.
  • Hire a strategist to evaluate your current copy and see what can be improved from an SEO and copywriting perspective. You may be surprised at the opportunities!

The takeaway? Determine the content creation strategy that works best for your business and budget. Once everything is dialed in, you’ll be able wow your readers with your site’s spectacular writing – and you’ll realize the wonderful rankings, engagement and ROI great content brings to the table.

Heather Lloyd Martin of SuccessWorks

About Heather Lloyd Martin

Heather Lloyd-Martin is the CEO of SuccessWorks SEO Copywriting.

Fueled by soy lattes, Heather writes SEO copy, develops content strategies and trains in-house copywriters in SEO copywriting and social media writing.

She also offers the only online SEO Copywriting Certificate training course.

You can reach Heather on Twitter @HeatherLloyd.





10 responses to “Outsource SEO Content or Train Your Team: How to Choose”

  1. Ken Jansen writes:

    Heather,

    This really wonderful. I just did some SEO consulting with a local firm, the product was technical, but they had the phrases done, just needed better placement. Very nice.

  2. Aimee Beck writes:

    Excellent post, Heather!

    Indeed, SEO copywriting has changed in this “post-panda” world, and it IS about time. It’s been a long time coming, and I’m hoping to see fewer duplicated, super-stuffed pages. You are the one who taught me to write for the user first (real live people!), and think about the engines second — great advice that has always served me well :)

    With a little bit of training, lasered-in strategy, and most importantly some heartfelt effort, we are sure to see some fresh, new quality content in the SERPs.

    Cheers!
    Aimee

  3. Kent writes:

    I have to say, if we go for outsource, we still need to work with them rather than 100% depends on those outsourced copywriters.

    At least one person from each department from a companies who know their departments well have to talk to the outsourced copywriters to generate great ideas. Each individual has story and passion to share.

    In the real world, there is no way, outsource, in-house can stand alone, at least not in Malaysia.

  4. Courtney Ramirez writes:

    Sound strategies Heather! I love that you suggested the hybrid approach – it’s worked very well for a few of our clients and lets me, as the SEO Copywriter, concentrate on my strengths and the pages that I know will get the largest impact.

  5. Heather Lloyd-Martin writes:

    Ken, hi!

    Great to hear from you – I’m glad that you enjoyed the post. Congrats on the consulting gig, too. :)

  6. Heather Lloyd-Martin writes:

    Thanks, Courtney! I’m glad to hear that the hybrid approach is working for your clients, too.

    It’s easy for clients to think, “We HAVE to outsource or keep everything in house – pick one.” The hybrid approach lets everyone focus on their strengths (as you mentioned,) and gives the client more bang for their buck.

    Thanks for your comment!

  7. Heather Lloyd-Martin writes:

    Aimee, wow, great to see you here. :)

    I’m remembering some of the pages we worked on together….and how you transformed the copy from super-stuffed to stupendous. Those pages almost always did well in the SERPs (and they made the client lots of money, too!).

    Thanks so much for your comment. It’s good to hear from you!

  8. Heather Lloyd-Martin writes:

    Kent-

    You make a great point. An outsourced copywriter should take time to talk to people – customers, customer service, department heads – and hear their stories. That kind of feedback is invaluable and will help guide the content development.

  9. Bob writes:

    You are right. We should balance outsourcing and in-house efforts if you really want to be successful. You can save more on your investments by doing this plus you ensure quality content which is the most important thing for readers.

  10. James writes:

    The best way of getting proper SEO is to learn it and DIY (do it yourself), cause you never know whom you are outsourcing to, it might be a professional or some Indian beginner with a US phone number bought from skype.



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