Often, sales, marketing, and customer service departments want to take an active role in contributing SEO content to the company website, whether it's information about updates, blog posts about the industry or detailed educational content to help your teams and customers. How can you empower team members to write effective SEO copy?
Here’s an inside look at how we manage SEO copy (particularly for our blog) at the SEMrush U.S. office, located just outside of Philadelphia, PA.
At SEMrush, our departments work together to produce quality content, ensure customer success and sell the product. While knowledge of our own product helps us focus on SEO, not all of us started creating content for the company as ‘SEO writers.’
We aim to include many voices and perspectives from our company to make sure customers’ concerns are addressed – and we want our blog to cover topics that interest our customers and answer their questions.
Our process has a few stringent rules, but overall it’s rather natural.
Along with my own observations, I’ve included the advice of SEMrush Customer Success Director David Black, Community Manager Kathleen Garvin, Content Manager Phillip Brooks and Customer Success Specialist Mike Isaac.
1. Ensure Consistent Style
Our blog primarily consists of posts from guest authors. We cover a range of topics – from the latest wearable to in-depth PPC strategies. Through that diversity, we do manage some consistency and focus on making posts readable.
“We have a lot of different voices on the blog – some writers are technical and all business, while others use GIFs and humor in their writing. With that said, we have an internal style guide to keep posts somewhat uniform. Appearance-wise, each post has a header photo, lots of white space and a variety of formatting (bullets, bold styling) to break it up. As more readers flock to smaller, mobile devices, blog posts need to be easier to read than ever.”
With more than one person editing our blog, we use the same software to optimize our posts for consistency and best practice. Most of our in-house and guest blog posts are already written with natural SEO, but we tweak and enhance posts to ensure optimization.
Kathleen: “When it comes to checking blog posts for SEO, nothing beats the Yoast plugin. I like it because it is so user-friendly. When I was new to the industry two years ago, it helped me understand the importance of keywords, title length and content management. Nothing gets posted without being optimized for the web first.”
We most frequently make the following SEO changes to posts from guest bloggers and in-house writers alike:
- Add synonymous keywords to posts
- Optimize title for clickability as well as SEO – no link bait, but a solid title
2. Use the Right Tools
Each member of the SEMrush team has access to our tool, which allows us to discover and analyze keywords – and determine which areas our competitors are covering.
David Black: “If SEMrush team members can't write effective SEO copy, then no one can! Not only do we have a wealth of keyword and marketing intelligence data at our fingertips, we're also dangerously good with the software so we know exactly for what and where to look. We're figuring out how to build lexicons, model topics and draft quality content that will position us exactly where we need to be.”
3. Coordinate Department Strategy for Consistent Message AND Unity
Coordinating content from different teams comes with its own set of challenges, but our goal isn’t to change each in-house blogger’s voice to suit the brand. So long as our message is clear, forward-thinking, helpful and unfailingly agile, we’re on target. In this way, departments support each other.
This is reflected especially well in our published content.
Mike Isaac: “I think that everyone plays a role in the success of every aspect of the business. I know I find myself collaborating with multiple departments to finish a particular task. Take this blog post for example. We are all part of various departments and we are contributing to a blog post to drive traffic to a website.”
David: “Customer success is a relatively new field but the principles that drive it definitely aren't. Even though marketing copy doesn't typically translate to customer success, we can certainly leverage typical marketing channels like the blog, webinars, YouTube/social to answer the questions being asked by our users, show them our solutions and how to achieve their goals with our software.
If SEMrush users are asking these questions here, there are a million others asking these same questions elsewhere and, with customer success content being informational and educational in nature, it has the potential to earn visibility and attract new audiences as well.”
“I feel my role is truly important in helping customers achieve success. When users first discover SEMrush they can become overwhelmed and are unable to understand certain reports and features we offer. My job is to make these reports and features clear to the users so that they can navigate SEMrush as easy as possible. I am from the customer success department which means my ultimate goal is to help our users achieve success through our product.
Frequently asked questions that come in to our support team from users greatly help me with my job. If I see that multiple users are writing in about a particular question or are confused on a certain report, I will create some type of content to clear things up.
Whether it be a blog or a video, the ultimate goal is to help users understand and ultimately learn from the various features being added to SEMrush so that they can achieve success through our tool.”
Additionally, departments mix when it comes to representing SEMrush at events, creating podcasts and supporting the corporate brand. We’re also supportive of each other’s personal brands, which creates a real investment in the successes of others as well as the brand as a whole.
4. Motivate Your Teams
Individual employees are motivated by different factors and rewards, but you can use their personal career goals to motivate them to create content for you.
Do they want to spend company time learning about a new social media tool? Can they relate their passion for movies and comics to digital marketing? Great!
Ask them to explore topics that truly mean something to them and they’ll produce great content and help the brand. And from an SEO standpoint, the copy will sound more natural – not like something stuffed robotically with keywords.
These enthusiastic posts also take far less time to edit and employees are also very eager to share this type of content on social channels.
The aforementioned brand and personal success is a very successful motivational factor when it comes to garnering content from other teams.
“…Becoming an authoritative source for content in your given field is a kind of currency that you can carry with you throughout your career at this or any other position. The more you write, the more you can step into the role of thought leader, which gives you a measure of credibility for personal brand-building.”
Mike: “You need to show someone the positives of creating SEO copy and how what they can create will help them moving forward.”
Our successes are also reflected in very specific metrics to ensure our success. We stay focused on goals and we exceed them – but we create solid content and incorporate our interests in them. This is the type of enthusiasm that can’t be manufactured, and it’s proven to be useful and shareable.
5. Don’t Stress the SEO, Stress the Topic
When in-house writers get nervous about writing content, I avoid stressing SEO and related strategies. That’s usually something I can fix later.
Instead, I ask them to stay on topic and provide actionable content and resources. Usually this results in very natural, optimized content in need of very little tweaking. Final details, such as tags, categories and image alt tags, are the blog team’s responsibility. I encourage the writer to focus on researching and writing specific, valuable, actionable content!
Have you run into any challenges when it comes to getting your teams to write SEO copy? Let us know in the comments!
Tara M. Clapper is Technical Editor at SEMrush and Senior Editor at The Geek Initiative, a website celebrating women in geek culture. Connect with her on LinkedIn and Twitter and view her writing portfolio.