Content is one of the easiest aspects of SEO to do badly. In a far from unrelated point, it’s also one of the cheaper ways to get some SEO work done. It’s not hard to find error-ridden content providers (still) going on about keyword density, when the main thing you need them to say is “I can write fan-effing-tastic content” and offer the samples with the quality to prove it. If you’re looking to write the content yourself, check here to get some tips. What follows addresses how to go about producing consistent great content precisely when you can’t do it yourself.
Why is Great Content Worth It?
The goal of your content production ambitions might not be to attract links. Why not? If you’re capable of having great articles fit within your site’s subject matter at all, then go for it. The extra links acquired will justify the greater expense, especially since commissioning the article is a one-time expense, whereas the benefits it brings keep on giving.
If the content is good enough, it might have a shot at success on social news sites like Digg or StumbleUpon. While you can read more about social-potential content here, for now you can be sure that high quality writing that is entertaining and informative is the core of social-worthy content. Success on those sites can bring great traffic and backlinks, juicing up your SEO efforts with a cleansing wash of natural links. Content may need some voting support to have a chance, but the real key is having a strong piece.
Finally, crappy content can be tempting as a cheap way to boost the sheer amount of unique pages and words on your site, to add some pages to rank for some longtail phrases. Consider two points:
- Let’s say this page ends up ranking – if it’s terrible, the user is much less likely to continue on to the rest of the site. The page could be their first impression, so why not make it strong?
- You may be prepared to ignore human reactions in favour of appeasing just search engine spiders that don’t appreciate the subtleties of stylish language. But there’s a chance your site could come under manual review, and if the majority of your resource text is horrendous, don’t expect that section of your site to offer much value. At worst, the presence of extremely weak text could be poisonous.
What Will It Cost Me?
Fortunately for you, even though great writers are rare, the fact that crappy writers are a dime a dozen still drives the cost down. Copywriting can cost as little as two cents per word, but for something good, expect at least ten. As with most things, you get what you pay for, and someone who’s able to write articles worthy of publication (real publication, not blog publication) is going to write content worthy of links, too. You should be willing to compete with going publication rates. Check Writer’s Market for a general idea, and as far as salaried employees, I wouldn’t expect to pay less than $40,000 for great writing.
How Do I Know I’m Getting What I’m Paying For?
Whether you’re hiring someone in-house or looking for a freelancer, the same principles apply. Look for previously published material. If the prospective writer has been published in print, take that as a great sign. Copywriting firms have to produce large volumes in short periods of time, so be extra vigilant about the quality you receive. Some copywriting services offer varying levels of quality at a range of prices. Hire the more expensive ones, but be ready to drop them if they aren’t performing.
Get at least one great writer on board, preferably with a strong editorial sense. This person will be your main barometer for copywriting quality. If you’re not a great writer yourself, you can probably identify great articles, but that doesn’t mean you’re able to discern as well at lower levels. A great editor can also potentially turn mediocre articles into link-worthy ones if they’re good enough (and if it’s possible).
Ideally, try to find a copywriter whose articles have accumulated links. Rather than a copywriter bragging about their SEO knowledge of keyword density, imagine a copywriter showing you a portfolio of articles with great links pointing to them. THAT would be impressive.
If you come across great articles and you can see that they have accumulated links on their own, approach them. Googling for writers will yield results, but there are gems to be found on their published turf.
Does Cheap Content Have a Purpose?
If the content you’re adding has no chance to accrue links because of length restrictions, subject matter, or any other constraining factor, then cheaper content might be worthwhile. Still, if it’s on your website, you should want every section of it to reflect the quality of your main product or service. Estimate the literacy level of your audience and try to keep from disappointing them. Cheap content still has to be minimally decent, too, so don’t put up with word trash.