SEO copywriting for nonprofits: Q&A with Heather Lloyd-Martin
Earlier this year, as I was working through the Marketing Writing Bootcamp course from MarketingProfs University, I was totally impressed by the session on SEO copywriting, delivered by Heather Lloyd-Martin (we’re a partner – see the bottom of this post for a $200 discount on MarketingProfs University courses). It was very timely because I recently had a number of related conversations about SEO copywriting for nonprofits and I really wanted to find a way to share Heather’s insights.
Heather kindly agreed to answer my questions on SEO copywriting for nonprofits which we’ve pulled together in this post.
What is SEO copywriting? How can it benefit nonprofits?
SEO copywriting stands for “search engine optimization copywriting.” If you know how to write “optimized” content, you’ll have a better chance of getting a top search result in Google and driving more traffic to your site.
“Optimized” content has keyphrases (words your readers type into a search box to find your nonprofit or information about your cause) expertly woven into your content, Title and Meta description. The content still reads naturally – but it’s also easy for Google to find and index.
(For more information on what a Title and meta description is, you can check out The Beginner’s Guide to SEO by Moz.)
Although “SEO copywriting” sounds complex (and it certainly has its complexities), the main purpose is writing in a way that connects with your reader. You want to write content that your readers love and recommend to all their friends. Have you ever sent an article link to your friend? That’s the power of good content. People love to share it!
Yes, there are certain things you can do that make Google happy (and increase the chances of a good search position). At the same time, it’s also important that your reader feels “at home” when they read your content. You want them to read your stories, be encouraged by your mission and feel compelled to act – whether that’s making a donation, volunteering with your organization or contacting you.
SEO copywriting “rules” apply to all of your site content – your home page, your inner pages – even your blog. Many people are afraid of SEO copywriting because they think that it’s highly technical. Although there are some technical-sounding terms, you can still learn how to do it. There is a learning curve, but most people overcome it pretty easily.
What are the rules of SEO copywriting? Have they changed?
Once upon a time, Google would reward bad content that was stuffed with search terms. Now, Google is laser-focused on content quality. If you want your nonprofit to have great search engine rankings (and who doesn’t?) that means taking the time to create commanding SEO content that differentiates you, tells a story and is written according to SEO copywriting best practices.
There are two main “rules”
- Write fantastic content that connects with your readers.
- Make sure your content includes well-researched keyphrases.
Of course, there is a method and a strategy for making this happen. And there are certainly other best practice “rules” for writing optimized content. But the main focus should always be on the reader and his/her experience.
What are the biggest SEO copywriting myths?
One of the biggest myths is “SEO copywriting is dead.” You don’t need to follow any writing guidelines – you just need to write the content. This is far from the truth. I’ve fixed many sites that followed this myth – and now those sites are finally getting the rankings they deserve.
Another myth is that SEO copywriting ruins content. Instead of being able to write intelligent copy, you’re forced to shove keyphrases into your copy – even if the keyphrases detract from the content flow. For instance, some people believe that your main keyphrase must appear a certain number of times in your first sentence – or your first paragraph. I see people do this all the time thinking that it’s the key to top Google rankings. Sadly, the content suffers (it’s horrible to read) and it doesn’t help with positioning.
Certainly, there are bad examples of SEO writing out there – pages that read like, “Our cashmere sweaters are the best cashmere sweaters online. Visit our cashmere sweater gallery now for the hottest cashmere prices.” But that’s not real SEO copywriting. That’s keyphrase-stuffed drivel (and it probably won’t position in the engines.)
Finally, one of the biggest myths is that there’s no reason to learn best practices – Google will change the rules anyway. Although certainly Google is changing the “rules” on a frequent basis, the fundamentals have stayed the same for over 15 years. So yes, it’s still a very important skill set to learn!
You can find a lot of information about SEO copywriting – and the basic fundamental steps on my YouTube channel.
What advice would you give to nonprofit marketers feeling overwhelmed or intimated by SEO?
I totally understand the overwhelm factor – if you are feeling like that, you are certainly not alone!
The thing is, SEO is incredibly important. You don’t want to put it off any more than you want to put off getting a phone number. You can learn how to take care of it in-house – or you can outsource it. Just have a plan.
Not sure if you should outsource the SEO? The best thing to do is be very, very honest about your abilities (and/or the abilities of your nonprofit team). For instance:
- Is your team incredibly busy and learning SEO is something that keeps getting pushed out?
- Have you tried to do it in-house, but you aren’t seeing good results?
- Does even the thought of learning SEO make you want to run away screaming?
Then yes – outsourcing will make your life a much easier place! And if you can find a consultant who can train your team and make it easy for them to handle – even better! That way, you’re saving money and bringing an important skill set in-house.
Do you offer any additional resources, information or help with SEO copywriting?
Well yes I do – and thank you so much for asking!
I would recommend checking out my site. While you’re there, you may consider signing up for my newsletter and checking out my SEO Copywriting blog (both are free resources.) You’ll learn a lot about what Google wants – and how to give it to them. Many of my blog posts are written for people new to SEO copywriting. So, if you’re still learning the basics, you should be able to find the information you need.
I also offer SEO writing services, customized trainings – even online SEO copywriting training. If your in-house team needs assistance, just let me know how I can help.
Heather Lloyd-Martin is a 15-year SEO veteran and considered the pioneer of SEO copywriting. She founded the SEO Copywriting Certification training – the only industry-endorsed SEO copywriting training that’s endorsed by the search marketing industry. In her spare time, she runs, reads books and enjoys some computer-free quiet time.
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