You’re on the hunt for an awesome SEO copywriter.
A writer who can capture your brand’s voice like a pro, optimize your content to please the Google gods, and wow potential customers.
With so many writers online, this should be an easy search, right?
Unfortunately, finding an SEO writer who can do it all – and, at the right price – is easier said than done.
That’s why we’re here to make your hunt a little easier.
Here are a few questions to ask when hiring SEO copywriters – plus our recommendations for where to find top-tier writing talent.
Why Hire an SEO Copywriter?
First off, what makes hiring an “SEO copywriter” the right choice versus hiring a general freelance writer?
Well, for one, a typical blog or content writer may not have any experience or knowledge of SEO content writing. This is an acquired skill that takes practice and at least a basic understanding of on-page SEO best practices.
Second, a general content writer is most often not capable of measuring the results of the content being created.
And since the goal of SEO content is to generate traffic (and, eventually, revenue), you will want a writer who knows how to craft content that brings results – AND has the ability to measure and make sense of those results.
In sum, you need to hire an SEO copywriter if you want…
- Content that’s optimized for Google search
- Content that’s written with users in mind
- Content that generates traffic and conversions
- Content that puts your brand’s best foot forward
Characteristics of an Experienced SEO Content Writer
“Good at writing” is the bare minimum of what you are looking for in an SEO content writer. A lot of writers can write (duh), but not all of them are great or experienced in SEO.
Therefore, there are a few key characteristics you should be looking for in an experienced SEO writer:
- Eager to learn. A great writer is one who is self-motivated and eager to hone their craft. Writing is not a chore to them, rather, a passion.
- Knowledgeable about SEO. It stands to reason that a good SEO writer MUST have at least a basic understanding of SEO and on-page best practices. Otherwise, these skills must be taught.
- Diligent. You should be looking for a writer who is timely and can stick to deadlines. They are diligent about the products assigned to them and rarely “drop the ball”.
- Honest. You need a writer you can trust – in terms of their rates, where they source their information (i.e. not plagiarizing), and their interactions with your clients. You don’t want a writer who will poach your clients or trick you into paying more than you owe.
- Organized. SEO content writing is a more advanced kind of writing that requires following briefs, using certain keywords, structuring content a certain way, etc. An SEO should be organized and able to follow detailed instructions.
- Self-disciplined. Some of the best writers are ones that go above and beyond and don’t require any “babysitting”. If you have to constantly ping them about deadlines, check project status, or give the same information over and over, they are not a good fit.
15 Questions to Ask When You Hire an SEO Copywriter
Now before you say, “OMG, 15 questions? That seems like overkill!”, hear me out.
My goal here is to help you find an amazing SEO writer who will stick around for the long haul.
By asking these questions and following my recommendations, you can avoid the “churn and burn” cycle of writers and find those who are likely to work with you for months or years to come.
Let’s get into it.
1. What kind of content have you written in the past?
“Generalist” writers are a dime a dozen. If you want the job done right, I highly recommend finding a writer who has experience in the niche or industry you need content for.
A writer who says they have “done it all” is likely a Jack of all trades with no clear specialty. Hiring this writer is a risk, because they may not know the subject matter well enough to do a good job.
So, ask your potential hires what kind of content they have written in the past and what areas they have the most experience in.
2. Have you worked with brands like ours before?
Similarly, you can ask if the writer has worked with brands like yours before. This helps you gain more information about their experience level, subject matter expertise, and SEO-specific skills.
Also, if your industry tends to operate differently from other businesses, this can be a helpful question to ask. For example, a writer who is experienced in working with digital marketing agencies will likely be okay offering white label services or covering a wider range of topics.
3. How’s your grammar?
Chances are you won’t get a 100% straight answer to this question, but a little research can reveal a lot. See how they communicate with you via email, check out the content on their profile or website, and read through their content examples. Seeing tons of grammar errors is a red flag.
4. Do you offer keyword research or content strategy?
If you are looking for a writer who can not only follow a brief but also conduct keyword research and determine topic ideas, this is an essential question to ask. Also, expect them to charge extra for this service.
Now, many writers will say they know how to do “content planning” or keyword research when they really don’t.
To determine who is for real and who isn’t, you should ask:
- What tools do you use for keyword research?
- Can you briefly walk me through your keyword research process?
- How do you determine what’s a “good” keyword for a site?
Their answers will reveal whether they have keyword research down pat or if they are just blowing smoke.
5. Do you utilize SEO or content optimization tools?
Even if you aren’t looking for a writer who conducts keyword research for you, it’s helpful to ask whether they use any SEO tools. Doing so will give you insight into their process and whether they use real data to inform their SEO content writing.
For example, an established SEO writer will likely use SEMRush.com or SurferSEO.com to aid in content optimization. This is not required but can make for better content.
At the same time, if you want your writer to use particular tools or follow, say, Surfer SEO briefs, it’s recommended that you ask them if they have experience with these tools already.
6. Can you meet deadlines?
Obviously, you want a writer who will turn work in on time. On the rare occasion that they are late, however, you want to be sure they are communicative and vigilant.
I expect all of my writers to turn in work 1 day before the actual deadline. If they suspect they may be late, I ask that they let me know ASAP. I don’t allow for writers to simply not turn in work on time with no message. This tends to be a two-strikes-you’re-out rule for me.
7. Will you complete a sample assignment?
If you are wanting to test out a writer, ask them to do a PAID sample assignment. Do NOT expect writers to work for free. I am on my soapbox about writers not doing unpaid writing assignments, so I expect this to happen less and less.
You can use an actual project or come up with a random topic. Provide a brief that’s in line with what you will be sending them on a regular basis. Expect to pay upfront or once the project is completed. This is a good time for both of you to feel out each other’s communication style as well.
8. What are your rates?
Obviously, this is an important question but you might be surprised by how variable the answers can be.
Some writers charge by the word, some charge by the project, some charge by the hour, or a combination of any of these.
Simply asking “How much do you charge for a 1000-word post?” may not get you a straight answer. This is because a great SEO writer knows that a blog post should be as long as it needs to be to be effective – and won’t want to nickel and dime on word count.
You will need to collaborate with your writer to eventually work out a pay structure that works best for both of you. In general, though, writers set their own rates.
9. How do you measure results?
Great content is great – ranking and conversion-ready content is better.
If an SEO writer is going to boast that they can bring you “rankings and traffic”, then they better bring the goods. This is why asking how they measure results is important.
Some may say that they rely on the site’s analytics to measure progress. This is fair. Not all writers have access to clients’ sites – this varies from business to business, agency to agency.
But for those who do measure results, they should have an understanding of:
- Google Analytics and Google Search Console
- Traffic numbers
- Goal tracking/conversions
- Rank tracking
- Traffic sources
- Engagement metrics
I wouldn’t expect for many writers to know how to track all of these. But what you are looking for is a writer who knows that HOW their content performs is important.
10. Do you have any case studies or client testimonials?
Any writer can say they are amazing, but it means so much more coming from past clients. Client testimonials, reviews, and case studies are great indicators that a writer knows what they are doing.
These might exist on their website, Facebook, LinkedIn, Google My Business, directory sites, or all of the above. You can find many of these on your own but I would still ask the writer if they have any other sources to send you.
11. Do you use a style guide?
Not every writer will do this and many will have no idea what you are talking about. But I still like to ask this question sometimes – particularly if I plan on sending them a style guide for one of my own clients.
A style guide helps a writer capture the brand’s voice, understand their target audience, and follow certain editorial guidelines. If a writer is familiar with this already, they will be less likely to stumble through the style guide you send them.
12. When is payment due?
I tell most writers to charge upfront, at least for their first few projects, until they have built some rapport with the business. This helps prevent clients from running away with their free work. However, all writers handle this differently.
This is an essential question to ask to ensure you are on the same page. Of course, you can also collaborate to come up with a system that works for both of you.
13. Is a contract required?
Any professional writer should have a contract. This helps the writer manage expectations, cover their *ss, cover their client’s *ss, and ensure proper payment.
Not having a contract – for both parties – is taking a huge risk.
If they don’t usually use contracts, I still recommend establishing one. This will protect both of you in case things go awry. At the very least, include a Statement of Work, Terms and Conditions, payment structure, and sign the contract before you start the project.
14. How many rounds of edits are included?
Don’t expect a writer to provide endless rounds of edits. This can be time-consuming and result in the writer doing tons of free work. You both should establish how many rounds of edits are included before you start on the project – and include this in the contract.
For my clients, I include 1 round of major edits. Then, a few tweaks as a second round. After that – if they really hate the content – I write it off as us just not being a good fit and move on. Sometimes that’s just the way it goes!
15. What is your turnaround time?
Every writer works at their own pace. Some writers are speedy-fast and others take a week to write a single post. You should know their average TAT before you load them with work. This will help you plan out your projects accordingly.
Where to Hire Great SEO Copywriters
As an SEO content writing agency, Keys&Copy seeks out and hires SEO writers on a regular basis. We’ve been fortunate that most of our writers have stuck with us throughout the years, which goes to show that hiring right from the beginning can set you up for the long haul.
Here are the top spots we go to find SEO copywriters.
LinkedIn’s handy search function makes it easy to find SEO writers. You can do a generic search of “SEO writer” or be specific in the niche you are searching for (for example, “B2B SEO writer”)
Other keywords you can use to find writers on LinkedIn include:
- Blog writer
- Content writer
- SEO copywriter
- Freelance SEO writer
- SEO content
- SEO content writer
LinkedIn will generate a list of users in and outside of your network who are currently ranking for the keyword you searched for. You can then review their profiles to read their Bios, see work examples, read Recommendations, and send them a message.
Writing-related and niche-specific Facebook Groups are great sources of skilled SEO writers, as long as you are willing to cut through the noise. We recommend joining Facebook Groups specifically for writers, as this is where you’ll be able to tap into the largest pool of talent.
Recommended Facebook Groups:
- WriteToRank: SEO Writing
- Freelance Writers Online
- Female Freelance Writers
- Content Writers
- Writers Helping Writers
- SEO Signals Lab
Your best bet is to publish a post in the Facebook Group with details about the position you are hiring for. Ask members to comment with their experience and contact information, not send you a “PM” (thank me later).
While ranking one’s own SEO copywriting website is easier said than done, a search for SEO writers in Google may bring up some top-ranking results. Logic would imply that these writers really know their stuff, as they are able to rank their own site in Google.
However, the top ten options aren’t necessarily the top ten writers in their field. You will still need to do your due diligence to read their work examples, conduct an interview, and… ask the questions included in this post!
Another great way to find writers is to check out industry publications and reach out to the contributors. Specifically, you want to look for contributors who brand themselves as a writer or content strategist.
For example, I am a guest writer at Search Engine Journal and Moz Blog. I have had business owners and marketers reach out to me in search of SEO writing services after they have seen my articles.
Freelancer directories like Fivver and Upwork can really be hit or miss, so I don’t usually recommend these for finding high-quality writers.
However, I am a fan of SEO-specific directories like Surfer SEO’s directory and Legiit’s freelance marketplace. I have had people reach out to me via these platforms and have seen some top-quality talent.
Get Started with SEO Copywriting Services
If you’re looking for an SEO copywriter for hire, you’re unlikely to find quality on freelance job boards or directories. Also, if you pay peanuts, expect to get monkeys. Finding experienced SEO writers is the way to go!
At Keys&Copy, we provide well-researched, search engine optimized content that actually does what it’s supposed to do: rank and convert. We have worked with some of the most established brands to lift their traffic and drive more revenue online.
Fill out an application to get a free quote for your content project.