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Episode Overview: Answering user queries while satisfying Google’s various ranking factor criteria to create SEO optimized content requires striking a delicate balance. Join host Ben as he speaks with WordAgents Owner Vincent D’Eletto about how to best create content that easily satisfies user intent and fulfills Google’s ranking factor criteria.
- Optimizing an article for SEO ranking factors includes using the right keyword density, short URL structures, proper grammar, etc. Writing content to meet user intent requires in-depth topic research, identifying what potential readers are looking for and composing trustworthy answers.
- Tools online can help you increase the authority and usefulness of your content. Grammarly helps eliminate spelling and grammatical errors and copyscape.com scans copy to check for plagiarism and duplicate content.
- If you’re outsourcing content production, it’s best to outsource to writers who understand the nuances of the language your targeted audience speaks and reads in. They’ll be able to best speak to their needs and create quality content the audience can engage with.
GUESTS & RESOURCES
Ben: Welcome to the Voices of Search podcast, I’m your host Benjamin Shapiro, and today we’re going to talk a little content marketing. Joining us is Vincent D’Eletto, who is the owner of WordAgents, which is a premium content production service for small businesses, agencies, and webmasters that ghost write blog posts, product reviews, website content, product descriptions, and press releases for brands including JD Powers, TapClicks, and my favorite, A Place For Mom. Yesterday Vincent and I had talked about some of the mistakes people make when producing content specifically for SEO, and today we’re going to talk about how to create content that satisfies both user intent and Google’s ranking factors.
Ben: Okay, on with the show. Here’s the second part of my conversation with Vincent D’Eletto, owner of WordAgents. Vincent welcome back to the Voices of Search podcast.
Vincent: Thanks Benjamin, glad to be here.
Ben: Excited to have you on the show, yesterday we talked a little bit about some of the mistakes that brands are making in the content production process where they’re not structuring their content in the right way, they’re not thinking about keyword density in the right way, and one of the questions that I posed to you yesterday, we touched on, what’s the difference between writing for SEO and writing for user intent? Let’s double click into that and talk about the difference between writing for a search engine and writing for a conversion. What’s the difference between those two things and how do you satisfy both?
Vincent: Sure, so optimizing an article for the search engine is literally just going down a checklist of things to do to your article that gives it the best possible chance to rank well for your target keyword on Google. And this could be things like keyword density like we talked about where you include your keywords within the article, how you structure your article, the length of your paragraphs and your sentences, conciseness is paramount, short URL structures that also include your keyword, and a few other minor things. But it’s satisfying Google’s wants in order to rank your article is just a checklist. Writing human friendly content on the other hand is a whole other ball game, and as I kind of went into previously, it’s really about doing your research on the topic as well as possible, and as deeply as possible before you write a single word. You want to know exactly what your potential reader is looking for when they land on your page so that you can satisfy their questions with proper answers, and you create the trust and authority around your brand that you want to be perceived as.
Ben: Other times when you’re writing content for a brand where you feel like those two things are at odds, where Google wants you to write in one fashion because the content is easily consumable, but the consumer is not converting because they need more depth or meat, or that’s just not the type of experience that they want.
Vincent: In the past yes, but in today’s current environment, no. Simply because we have so many data tools that will tell us, on a keyword level, exactly what’s appropriate. So I really like the tool called surfer SEO. They have this cool content editor that you just plug in your target keyword, and they’ll tell you the exact length of the content. It’ll tell you exactly what are the common questions around that keyword that you should answer contextually in your writing and other common elements that you’d want in the article, such as number of headings, number of images, number of lists. So in today’s environment, it’s very easy to understand how to create a properly optimized article while also satisfying what the reader’s expecting to see.
Ben: Talk to me more about the content production toolkit. You mentioned Surfer SEO. What are some of the other tools that you like that are useful in content production?
Vincent: Sure, Surfer SEO is great for creating quick briefings around a keyword. At WordAgents we use a tool called grammarly.com.
Ben: Love Grammarly.
Vincent: Yeah, we’re actually the biggest … I guess we have the biggest usage on their platform. We always get their like number one reward every week or on that email that they send out.
Ben: I have their most spelling corrections.
Vincent: [Laughter]. That’s good.
Ben: There’s a reason why I’m a podcaster not a blogger.
Vincent: [Laughter] But Grammarly is great. It’s a spelling and grammar proofreading tool, and it’s a great way for us to create a baseline for spelling and grammar to remove any kind of gray area from that. So we always guarantee that we’ll score 90% or better on Grammarly. Outside of that, we use copyscape.com to check for plagiarism and duplicate content. In the digital marketing world, we all know too well that there’s writers out there that will just plagiarize and pass it off as their own, so we check all of our content with Copyscape. And other than that, just Google’s normal suite of tools, Google Drive, Google Sheets, Google Docs, we’re all over that, and we have our own project management system for our production process as well.
Ben: So talk to me about the difference between writing content in house and, depending on outsourcing, it seems like writing for your customer is something that’s better served to be done in house. What’s the appropriate way to write for your customer and where can you actually offshore that?
Vincent: So when it comes to in house writers, in house writers are great for your branded content. When you put out branded articles that must follow your brand voice, your in house writers, those are the people for the job.
Ben: The fine branded content for me.
Vincent: Brands have style guides and there’s certain words and phrases that they like to use and certain words and phrases that they don’t like to use or prohibit from using. They like to portray themselves in a certain light. It’s not always so easy to do that when you outsource that to an outsource service. That’s typically in house writers that have in depth understanding of the brand, that understand the branded content. Outsourced, when you want to go to outsource your content to a service like ours, it’s really for non-branded content, and for overflow work that your in house writers cannot handle. So if you’re an agency owner, as I used to be, you know that managing writers is just a pain in the butt, you don’t want to have the more employees on staff, there’s going to pay out benefits, all of this crazy stuff. So much easier to just outsource it to somebody that does all that for you, and you just have a single point of contact, and submit your orders and get it back ready to publish without any headaches.
Ben: It seems like there’s a couple of different ways that companies like yours are monetizing their services. You can buy dollar per word, you can buy dollar per article, you can have retainers for services. How do you charge? What’s the right way that companies should think about paying for content?
Vincent: Sure, so we’re set up as a productized service right now, so we have four defined packages and it’s really just how many words you get for the money. We’ve seen other services that they charge differently based on quality. I kind of think that’s a little bit BS. I think that if you’re a content service, you should put out the best quality work that you possibly can. So we’re basically priced based on volume. The more you order, the cheaper it will get, and I feel like that’s the best fit and it allows us to grow with the client.
Ben: So I understand the value and how having an outsource writer can help you lower your costs, and then there’s some things that you want to bring in house that are specifically brand related, right? Your FAQs you’re probably going to have in house because they’re related to your product. Your top level of content when you’re dancing around and looking for who’s gonna self select to be interested in your industry. Yeah, you could probably offshore that or have a different writer. Talk to me about having content producers and outsourced writers that are domestic here in the United States, as opposed to other places in the world.
Vincent: Sure. Yeah, back in the day, when I say back in the day, I’m saying like 2008, 2009, it was completely okay to outsource your articles to like India or the Philippines and get that English as a second language-style of article and it would work. They would rank just fine, but in today’s environment, you really need quality writing. So at WordAgents that’s something that we’ve done from the get go. We’ve guaranteed that we only use American writers, and there’s a lot of reasons for that, mainly cultural reasons. Americans understand what Americans want, and that might be lost on somebody if you outsource to India or Philippines or wherever, and just the general quality of writing, an American can very quickly pick out somebody that is English as a second language, and that might turn them off and that might actually affect your bottom line. So when it comes to SDL content in 2020, I advise to only use, I wouldn’t say American writers, I would say native writers to the language you’re writing in.
Ben: Yeah and I think that goes for whatever country you’re in or whatever language you are producing content for is that you want somebody who is, or at least can, write at the level of a native speaker. The one hack that I’ve used when I’m doing content production is finding expats, finding somebody who has moved to a different part of the world who is a native English speaker.
Ben: All my last projects, I knew somebody that moved from Iowa to Thailand and they were happy to take $7 an hour as opposed to $15 an hour or whatever minimum wage was at the time, because $7 an hour was more than they would make in Thailand. So you can find some diamond in the rough-type writers, but you just have to be a little bit more selective if you’re looking for them yourself.
Vincent: Yep, digital nomads are great writers, so we also have relationships with universities and we hook up with the honors department and have them send over some of their honors students, and we’ve found that we’ve got some great writers at a great rate that way as well.
Ben: All right, Vincent I appreciate you walking us through some of your thoughts on content production and how you can write for not only search engines, but also write for the people that are going to be consuming your content. Thanks for being our guest.
Vincent: No problem, thank you Benjamin.
Ben: Okay, and that wraps up this episode of the Voices of Search podcast. Thanks for listening to my conversation with Vincent D’Eletto the owner of WordAgents. We’d love to continue the conversation with you, so if you’re interested in contacting Vincent, you can find a link to his LinkedIn profile in our show notes. You can contact him on Twitter, his handle is WordAgents, or you can visit his company’s website, which is wordagents.com. Just one more link in our show notes I’d like to tell you about, if you didn’t have a chance to take notes while you were listening to this podcast, head over to voicesofsearch.com where we have summaries of all of our episodes and contact information for our guests. You can also send us your topic suggestions or your SEO questions. You can even apply to be a guest speaker on the Voices of Search podcast.
Ben: Of course you can always reach out on social media, our handle is Voices of Search on Twitter, and my personal handle is BenJShap. B-E-N-J-S-H-A-P. And if you haven’t subscribed yet and you want a daily stream of SEO and content marketing insights in your podcast feed, we’re going to publish episodes every day during the work week, so hit the subscribe button in your podcast app, and we’ll be back in your feed tomorrow morning. All right, that’s it for today, but until next time, remember the answers are always in the data.