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Website content creation is about more than quirky straplines and pretty pictures.
If you’re an online copywriter or content writer, you’ll know that web content poses two main challenges:
- Making it SEO-friendly…
- …without compromising on client requirements
To overcome these, I developed a 5-step process:
Let me explain how it works.
Pro Tip If you are a beginner freelance writer, I’d recommend this book. It is better than any copywriting course I have taken. And is the only resource I use repeatedly to help me complete writing jobs.
Step 1: Form A Detailed Brief
Before you think a thought or write a word, you need to form a detailed brief. This will help you get under the skin of your client’s business and project requirements.
Whether I am creating website content or blog posts, here is the template I use (click to enlarge):
It’s long, I know.
But it is the only way (I have found), to effectively:
- perform accurate keyword research
- create content that blends with the brand
- choose language that resonates with the target audience
It also makes writing easier since the brief alone generates so many ideas.
Step 2: Business & Competitor Research
So, you’ve had a discussion with your client and formed a meaty brief.
Now it’s time to earn your money.
Look through your client’s website. Make notes about what impression you get as a potential customer, and what questions you have. This informs you about what content would be valuable to their target audience. If say, you have been given a title for a blog post, this research will enable you to write in your client’s ‘voice’.
Although your client has shared competitor information, you need to do some research on your own.
When a business carries out competitor research, they are interested in what they do and how they do it. Although this is useful, how will you help your client leverage themselves above competition if you haven’t analysed their competitor’s content?
How do I carry out competitor research for website content?
Put your content writer hat on and perform a Google search.
Let’s say your client makes bespoke birthday cakes. The first thing to do is put yourself in the shoes of a consumer. What words would you type in? Here’s what I see when I type birthday cake maker near me:
Circled, is the competitor you want to start with.
You need to analyse:
- Meta description – see the description underneath the title? That’s the meta description. It includes most of the keywords that I used in my search. Looking at this gives you ideas for the meta description to attach to the website content you’ll create for your client. If they have already given you a focus keyword to include, this should be embedded into the meta description and title.
- The online content – what kind of language have they used that has helped them get to the first page of Google search results? Remember, content is king. That means that your focus shouldn’t be on stuffing keywords into it. It should be about creating detailed, unique and purpose-driven content. Anything less than say, 1000 words, is considered as being ‘thin content‘ by Google.
- Types of content – people like varied content. So, that’s what search engines like too. You should be looking at ways to structure your content so that it is easy to scan. Things like subheaders and bulleted lists help. You should also advise your client of other forms of media to include e.g. images, videos etc.
Step 3: Keyword & Topic Trend Analysis (optional)
I’ve included this as an optional step because your client may not have the budget to pay you for this service or, may have already carried out keyword research.
Without it though, you might create content that your client loves, but will their target audience love it too?
The process of carrying out in-depth keyword research is vast. I don’t want to focus on that today, but this guide should help.
If your client wants you to, at this stage, you should research which keywords:
- their target audience is likely to use
- have high CTR (the measure that shows you how likely it is likely to result in organic traffic)
- are not too competitive
When creating online content, try to include the keyword two to three times. Google is clever enough to pick up on related keywords, so as long as the content is high-quality and focused on the topic at hand, it will perform well.
Topic Trend Analysis
You might be proud of the clever headline you have come up with. But if your client’s target audience isn’t attracted to it, it’s useless.
That’s why carrying out topic trend analysis is so handy.
Buzzsumo is a great online tool to use for this. It shows you a breakdown of web pages and blog posts that are trending for the keywords you enter.
Step 4: Show The Client A Snippet Of Your Work
If you’ve done the background work, you should finally be ready to start writing!
The activities carried out in steps 1 – 3 should give you confidence in getting the content right – both for your client and for SEO purposes. But, you don’t want to spend hours on it only to find that your client wants something different, do you?
To avoid this I start by writing a couple of snippets of content from different angles. I send these to my client and ask for feedback. This feedback strengthens the foundation you have already built for the content.
Step 5: Use The Feedback & Brief To Create Content
You now have enough information to confidently write the rest of the content.
Go forth and prosper!
Pro tip: Content should answer a question or solve a problem. People rarely read information for the sake of it. It is usually driven by a desire to want to know something.
In the previous example, I wanted to know who the cake makers were near me. There were two parts to this – cake makers, and near me. Both of these questions needed to be answered.
Make sure that you keep the purpose in mind when creating the content.
Have you got any tips to add? Have you tried this? What did you think?
Don’t forget to comment below so that other people can benefit from your experiences!