Working with writers and keywords – quick tips from a few projects I have been working on! Getting writers and content managers to engage with keywords can be a fine art, but I prefer to take it as a mutual learning and knowledge sharing opportunity.
How to “pitch” keywords to content writers?
I get asked about keywords a lot, and sometimes it can be hard to explain how to leverage them in a way that doesn’t make people roll their eyes as you wheel out terms such as metadata. But, I do think they are important for helping us write in a more user-centric way, and if you pitch it right, your writers will soon agree!
Meet them half-way
Keywords and SEO don’t always have a great rep amongst content creators. Many writers may feel that they are asked to do something that disturbs their sense of the brief, or interrupts their work. The key is to try to contextualise what you are saying, as well as acknowledge some of their concerns. Be their ally and understand their writing processes too.
I like to show how I approach researching and writing a piece to help demystify the process in real-time.
Focus on user (and search) intent
I often talk about users and intent – getting content creators excited about getting more eyeballs on their content. If you keep things focused on the reader, essentially helping people solve problems and get accurate information, you will likely have a more receptive audience.
Get people to understand that this is not about playing up for search engines, but about serving the user.
I like to work together with writers at how we can improve storytelling through data. Rather than detract, I want to show how using data can make content better. Keyword research can help open up really interesting content avenues, and it can also help us make smarter decisions on what content themes and categories to prioritise.
Being a more empowered writer who is in control of their copy is a huge reason why embracing data should be seen as an asset for a copywriter.
Keywords can make your writing more powerful
Keyword research goes beyond parroting repetitive phrases. Highlighting the different types of keywords and how they can be leveraged to power up copy is a tangible way to get writers to engage with an SEO content strategy.
- I love using questions and how-to lists (great for featured snippets) in my content strategy, and these formats are often keyword research led. These are an excellent way to induct writers into thinking about/using keywords. Look at the top questions your audience is asking and think about how you can answer them?
- Co-occurring keywords is about how trying to write “alongside” a piece opens up potentially new avenues for more content. Try to emphasise the ongoing and conversational side to SEO. There is no end to what keyword research can help you do!
Encourage exploring a specific vocabulary when writing content instead of just focusing on whether writers are picking up on keywords. Vocabulary captures the sense that rather than stuffing in disjointed terms, this is about covering a topic in a meaningful way. It is important to not get too enamoured with a specific term or an expression. This is about leaving room for further exploration.
Something else I often suggest is being creative and unique, not being afraid to mix it up and be different while keeping search intent and the user in mind. SEO suggestions are often just that, suggestions, and they should not make people feel like they should not also be playful.
When you’re in SEO, it’s always a challenge to try to communicate the subtlety of something like keywords.
Trust (their) instincts
A lot of the time people feel that they can’t just go ahead and do something when it comes to SEO, that they are missing a puzzle piece, or permission, to get going. When it comes to optimising copy and copywriters, I think it is important to empower people to follow their instincts. 95% of the time you were probably on the right track.
SEO can be a career asset
I started as a copywriter, moving into content and SEO. It is not for everyone, but SEO awareness and training can actually end up being a huge career asset for writers.