How to Get Paid More for SEO Writing

Carol Tice

SEO Writing Helps you Stay on Target

As promised, I have one more question to answer this week from MALW reader Gina, who asked earlier about niche blogging vs general blogging. Today, we discuss SEO and high-paid writing. Her question:

Carol, I’m curious what you think of SEO writing. There are many SEO companies that charge big dollars to provide readable SEO articles and content to clients. How many upscale online writers do or don’t write with keywords in mind? I know search engines are becoming less keyword driven, but they are still a reality. Just wondering what your thoughts are on copywriters and SEO.

Let’s start by saying there’s SEO writing, and then there’s “SEO writing,” as in all the ads you see that are looking for an “SEO writer.” In my experience, this latter title in an ad usually means “I’m looking for someone who will quickly cobble together something from a few other similar topic pages they find online and use a lot of keywords to help our rankings. We don’t care if the writing’s very good.” A threat that all content will be run through Copyscape to make sure you’re not plagiarizing is the hallmark of this genre.

And the pay is crap. And established, professional copywriters have names for what this is — names like “retyping” and “article spinning.” When you say it’s “readable,” in my experience that doesn’t mean it’s usually something anyone would ever actually want to read. These are articles created primarily for search engines to read. Whether people ever read them seems to be a sort of secondary consideration.

I know what you want to tell me, Gina — you’re different and special. Your SEO writing is great copy. If so…you’re being ripped off and underpaid for what you’re delivering. Stop writing for SEO houses if you want to earn more.

Well-paid copywriters sell themselves as capable of delivering knockout information in compelling ways, so that customers of their client Web sites will be excited by what they offer, come back often, and buy products and services. These articles are written for people first, and search engines second. That’s the difference. Not everybody can write something people want to read…the pool of possible writers is smaller…and pay is better.

Do top-flight copywriters care about SEO and use keywords in online content they create? Absolutely. We try to work them into our headlines and first paragraphs, for sure. But we’re not looking to use them at some crazy ratio where they’re every third word of an article. I’m often given keywords to use by clients. The key word there is “use,” not overuse. As you note, search engines are getting smarter about keyword-dense text. Keyword density isn’t most important to most good-paying clients — their top priority is to have mind-blowingly helpful information on their site and compelling sales materials that establish them as the authority in their sector and helps them sell.

As far as the “many SEO companies that charge big dollars,” I’m not sure that’s a reality. It’s a very cutthroat industry and I think their markup isn’t that different from that of any other type of copywriting agency or middleman. Stop worrying about how much profit SEO companies are making off you, and find your own clients to earn well and learn how to make money writing the correct way.

Photo via Flickr user smemon87

24 Comments

  1. Eva

    Hi Carol!

    I’m a budding freelance writer.
    Is it necessary to know SEO to make it as a freelance writer?
    Are the courses out there worth it?

    Thanks
    Eva

    • Carol Tice

      It is necessary for writing online, and here’s what you need to know:

      Use words and phrases your prospective reader might use to search for your type of content. You can use tools like Google’s Key Word research tool to find good phrases to use. Don’t overuse them, but write naturally about the topic, or Google will hate on your article.

      The end.

      SEO is becoming less and less important as Google keeps changing its rules — and writing useful content readers love to get is more important, Eva.

    • Eva

      Hi Carol!

      So I don’t necessarily have to do an SEO course to be able to subtly
      incorporate key words into my writing when the job calls for it? My
      common sense and Google’s Key Word research tool should be enough to
      satisfy the quality client’s SEO component of a particular job?

      Thanks,
      Eva

    • Carol Tice

      In my opinion, yes. But it really depends on the sorts of clients and work you’ll be doing.

      If you’re writing things for people to read, rather than things for robots to read, SEO is a fairly minor concern at this point. The quality of your information and your ability to write it in a compelling way is what matters most.

      Let’s put it this way — I’ve never taken one, and I recently discovered Freelance Writers Den ranks on the first page for the search “freelance writer.” I’ve done nothing really SEO-focused for that site at all — it’s just the wealth of relevant information that’s making it happen.

    • Eva

      That is great news. Thanks Carol!

  2. Roland Stapley

    The Warrior Forum has a new article section opening. The question is, should you use it? Will you get any results from it? Is it worth the cost of admission?

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