Writers are easy to find these days. They are a dime a dozen, and they can be hired at just about any price point.
LinkedIn, Upwork, and Fiverr are chock-full of self-proclaimed writers, and many of them will crank out articles on the cheap. In fact, if you really want a bargain, you can go to a content mill like Textbroker for batches of SEO articles for pennies on the dollar.
There’s just one problem. They probably won’t be very good.
If you're looking for the best content, you're not going to be satisfied with the cheapest writers out there. You're going to want someone worth their weight in gold.
The task of hiring a new writer can be daunting. How do you choose the best fit for you? How can you easily screen the dozens (or even hundreds) of SEO writers to find the one or two that will really make your brand shine?
In order to answer those questions, let's look at three qualities that we at Concured feel are non-negotiable in an SEO writer.
You can't be a rockstar SEO writer if you aren't a good writer to begin with. But, unfortunately, SEO writing has come to be thought of only as a technical skill. In years past, SEO workers were prized for their ability to cram as many keywords into a paragraph as possible when that was still a viable strategy.
As the fields of content marketing, search engine marketing, and their relationship with Google matured, it's about quality first now. Google penalizes web pages that simply restate information that can already be found elsewhere on the internet. Now your content has to be original and informative.
Yet there are still many working SEO writers today who are basically professional regurgitators. They take information that's already out there and they repackage it with fresh sets of words. This technique worked wonders for websites in the past, but now as Google's algorithms get better and better, more is required if you want to hit the top positions.
Mediocre writing just restates what's already out there. Great writing is original and opinionated. It moves the reader intellectually and emotionally. We're not talking about purple prose here. You probably don't want a writer that has the tendency to wax poetic on every topic, stuffing in a bunch of adjectives and adverbs and complex metaphors.
Great writers know how to hook the reader with strong prose, bullet points, subheadings, and short, crisp sentences. The best online writing draws you in. It's neither too stuffy nor too informal. It's engaging and easy to understand. It's appealing to people of all ages. It's human.
So, to summarize the point: Great SEO writers have to be great writers to begin with. Even if your content strategy is aimed solely at SEO improvement, better writing isn’t going to hurt that goal.
So how do you find a good writer? When screening for a new SEO writer, make sure you ask to see samples of their writing. Skim a few of their articles and ask yourself the following questions:
On the technical side, do the writer’s samples:
The best writers go the extra mile to add value to their articles. Does your prospective writer show in their samples that they can:
Google will only reward your SEO efforts if the keywords are used in a natural way, a way that doesn't sacrifice quality. Thus, your writer has to know how to add keywords in a way that Google approves and doesn't turn readers off from the content.
Is this a delicate balance? Yes. Is it difficult to master? You betcha. But that's why you want to find only the best, right?
Does the writer you want to hire know how to use keywords in headings? Are they comfortable using H1, H2, and H3 tags to identify the main title, main headings, and subheadings?
Are their titles not too long but still catchy, including the right keyword or phrase?
And what about their URLs? Do they know how to customize the slug for each article to optimize the page's URL? The best URLs are simple, including keywords, but also short, with small words, like a, the, and of taken out.
An SEO writer worth their salt will know how to do this and know that it is important for both Google human readers.
Another key topic of SEO strategy is using links properly. A good SEO writer should know how to use a blend of both internal and external links to build value and add authority.
External links should be to the best sources. the quality of your sources determines the quality of your content.
It takes extra effort to add in great sources as external links. The best SEO writers are willing to go that extra mile.
Of course, internal links are also important, perhaps even more important. Does your prospective SEO writer know about the importance of internal link strategies? Do they have experience using internal links?
A great internal link structure boosts Google's opinion of your entire website, not just any single article.
Finally, a great SEO writer will know about some of the most common schema tags and how to use them. Schema tags help search engines like Google take out snippets from your page and show them at the top of certain searches. This leads to a massive SEO boost for your entire site.
If you have an excellent writer that is familiar with all the latest SEO strategies, you probably have a great SEO writing candidate on your hands.
But what if you want more? What if you want the very best SEO writer? If that's the case, then you want someone who can go that extra mile to provide even more value to readers.
As we said above, Google likes content that brings value, content that answers readers' questions and helps them personally or professionally.
That's why Google seems to prefer longer content, articles that are 1,500 words or more. Most articles that make to the top of search results are long and in-depth.
So a great SEO writer will be comfortable writing longer articles on a regular basis. that means more research and more depth with each topic.
It also means better writing. Good prose can carry a reader's interest for 500 words. Only the best writing can captivate for 1,500 words or more. So can your prospective SEO writer keep a reader hooked for several minutes at a time? Can she keep the reader interested right down to the last paragraph?
Another major SEO boost can be found in the use of images. Great writers go that extra mile by finding at least one image that can be used with each article.
The best images have three key qualities. they are:
Relevant images don't confuse the reader. Instead, they drive the main point home. They aren't just topically relevant but also tonally harmonious. They support the emotional theme of the article as much as the intellectual one.
Images can be informative in many ways. They might be a graph, a map, or a screenshot. When an image adds more information, it causes the reader to pause and study it. This adds read-time to your article, elevating it in Google's eyes.
Of course, images can be made more relevant or informative if text or graphics are added to them. While not strictly related to writing, a writer that knows how to use Photoshop, Adobe Spark, or Canva to add more information to images can be a benefit.
Of course, every image used must be properly cited, usually in the caption. They should also be familiar with image licensing. Using an image for which you don't have rights isn't just unethical. It could cost you in a big way in the future. So great writers double-check rights and provide proper citations every time.
Yes, mediocre writers are a dime a dozen. Truly great SEO writers are hard to come by. It may take more work to screen for the above qualities, but finding the perfect match for your brand is worth it.
As search engines like Google continue to improve their algorithms, quality writing will matter more and more. Don't skimp on quality now, or you'll regret it in the future.
We hope this article can help you make your next hire a smart one. And, of course, Concured will continue to help you find the right topics to write about, using the power of data-driven AI, so, when you find an SEO writer worth their weight in gold, you'll have everything you need to assign out awesome topics they can turn into SEO excellence!
Learn more about Content Marketing, Content Intelligence, Content Marketing Artificial Intelligence on our blog.
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