SEO Copywriting Tips to Rank & Convert w/ Joel Klettke (2019)

By | October 1, 2019


– Hey its Joel Klettke from
Business Casual Copywriting and you’re watching
100 Days of SEO. – What’s happening, guys?
Brendan Hufford here, Happy Labor Day, those
of you celebrating that we’re hanging out at this
awesome lake up here in Michigan this is, look how
beautiful this is. Look at this lake, look at how absolutely
stunning this is down here. Today, I just
want to share with you an interview I did
with Joel Klettke. I’m so excited
about this interview, Joel is one of the
best conversion copywriters that I’ve ever had the
good fortune to get to know. He’s taught me more about SEO, by teaching me about copywriting than I ever
thought I could’ve learned. I’m so excited. Today we’re
going to talk a bunch of things but most importantly, what does SEO copywriting mean and where is the intersection
between SEO and copywriting. Enjoy. (whistles) Joel thanks for joining
us for 100 Days of SEO. – Yeah! Happy to be here. – I want to jump right into it, so I’ve obviously followed
your work for a little bit and especially in
Traffic Think Tank and on Twitter and stuff, we’re in a couple of the
same Facebook groups I think and one of the first
things I saw that had you in it that I thought
was really interesting was the interview you did
with Ross from Siege Media, and I shared
that with everybody. I still continue to
share parts of that, I ripped part of the video and
uploaded it to my own Twitter so I could just retweet myself. (Joel laughing)
It was so good. So I see this a
lot in Facebook groups and especially in
the copywriting groups that you and I are both in,
especially one of them this phrase “SEO copywriting”
comes up again and again like what does that mean? What does that mean to you? – Yeah, that’s a good question ’cause what it means really
depends on who you ask right? There’s people who like live
and die by it they swear it’s it’s own full blown thing. I mean don’t get me wrong, I have respect for
copywriters who also know SEO and who dabble in SEO and understand the
impact of rankings, title tags and all of that. But for me I hate the
phrase SEO copywriting. It’s usually for me,
it’s associated with all that I hate
about copywriting. Because typically
not the people who, you know if we
like say Kate Toon, Kate Toon does everything right when it comes to combining the
worlds of SEO and copywriting and putting them together. But for me it’s a
really meaningless phrase because when you’re
writing copy for the web you’re writing to intent, you’re writing thematically, you’re writing with the intent
of engaging a human being whereas SEO copywriting
tends to get thrown up by companies who
want like spammy articles and certain keyword densities and all this really old-school, not so awesome,
kind of really skewed way of looking at the
world of copywriting. Whenever you’re putting
SEO ahead of the copy itself I think somethings
probably gone amiss. – Yeah, it kind of shows too that you don’t know what SEO is, if you think that, I mean granted, here’s the thing like if you’re doing copywriting
and its hurting your SEO is it fair to say you don’t
know how to do copy writing? Is that too
(Joel laughs) I don’t mean to insult anybody. – No I think, that’s kind of, that’s it right? When we think of SEO copywriting like what people
often think is like okay I’ve got a hundred
different location pages I need someone to
write a hundred unique ways of saying
restaurant in Tallahassee (laughs) and that kind of thing. (Brendan laughing) and we’ve reached the point
I think where the algorithm, you know Google is not perfect, very, very far from it. I know from my
days working in SEO it was broken back then, there’s still parts of it that
are massively broken today but I feel like
we’ve reached a point where Google does a
good job of understanding what a page is about,
what themes are linked, where if they are considering,
you know, things like engagement then
they’re looking at time on site and where people navigate and
how they do that type of thing that can all be determined. But if you’re writing in a way
that’s actively hurting you, you just don’t understand
copywriting, in and of itself and if you’re writing
great compelling copy then odds are good you’re
gonna tick a whole lot of boxes for SEO anyhow. So while there are elements, you know, to me
SEO is a consideration it’s not the end goal, and I think that’s the
thing that bothers me most, is that SEO is something
you bake into the copy, it’s something you
consider when you write but it shouldn’t be
the ultimate end goal. The end goal is not to show up, the end goal is not
to rank for a thing, it’s to deliver a message and
communicate some sort of value and so I think that’s where the
thorn in my side comes from, from SEO, the
words SEO copywriting, the field of SEO
copywriting is if showing up is the end goal, if SEO is the end goal, I feel like your priorities
have gotten really skewed somewhere along the way. – Yeah and if you run a business and you think putting
a phrase in your H1 tag is gonna be the thing
that really does it for ya– – Right? – I think you’ve also got
some misaligned goals too. Tell me a little
bit about how you think, because you’re one of the
few copywriters that I know that I really
trust when it comes to, and I don’t mean again to
be insulting to copywriters but typically
when you focus on copy, you don’t get a really
good education in SEO and we were kind of
talking about this too, there’s a lot more
overlap coming between the two. What are some like
beginner SEO mistakes that you see people making? Whether it just be copy or just on their
websites in general. – I mean there’s
all of the old classics like I think one of the biggest
things that drives me nuts is the mistaken belief that a page has to
be a certain length and I’m all for looking
at the data and analyzing, and saying okay
pages that are 3,000 words tend to outrank
pages that are 200. The problem is that when
that’s the focus for your SEO you’re completely ignoring like, are those 3,000 words valuable? And when you’re putting a
word count ahead of again, the experience of the copy, the message of the copy, the conversion
elements of the copy, then your priorities
are out of whack. So I think that’s a huge one,
is companies are like “No, the homepage
must be this many words “and we need to have
this certain keyword density” So I think that’s a big mistake. I think another
huge mistake is kinda, you just eluded to it right? Copy has a place,
a massive place in SEO. But a mistaken
belief that there are things that absolutely must be there, like you must have
your keyword in the H1, its gotta be there, or you must have like a
very formulaic title tag. I think a lot of
beginner SEOs forget that SEO is like a
multiple factor practice. There’s lots of different
things happening in conjunction so you have to know how
to bend the rules in places and if you’ve got a
really strong back-link profile then you’ve got some leeway to be a little bit
more playful in your copy and if you’re doing
things right with your copy and sucking people in, you know, you could rank 3rd on the page but if you’re title tag
is way more compelling, way more interesting,
way clearer than the two people above you then there’s another
way for you to compete. So I think looking at SEO as a
very black and white practice is another mistake that
I see a lot of beginners and even to be honest, a lot
of advanced people making. We like to box
ourselves in with rules and rules are meant to
be things that guide us but they’re not
meant to be absolutes and like if you
don’t have this one thing you’re doing everything wrong, its not a zero sum game, there’s more to it than that. – Yeah I think there’s, it reminds me of
a couple of things Ahefs like put
out a really cool thing about like ranking factors and they showed like
a bunch of data sets, its far from scientific research but its better than nothing, that the thing that
really moves the needle for rankings is links, far more than is your keyword
in your H1 tag or whatever. And the other thing too is
I’ve seen time and time again, all these interesting
case studies of people who get to the first page and then find ways
to influence click-data, whether that be bots or you
have a viral YouTube video that says hey go Google this, or you’re
talking about something and people go and
google it and they click you and you might be ranking fifth and all of a sudden your first, and you never
leave the first position ’cause you’re just
getting more clicks. Like once you’re
on the first page like the click-through
rate I think is becoming, not that links don’t
matter and things like that but the click-through
rate matters quite a bit once you’re on the
first page for something especially in
something super competitive like Chicago web design which
is an arena that I play in or you know
managed WordPress hosting or something like that right? – Yeah and I mean you know,
I’ve been out of the SEO game for sometime now, I certainly keep my
finger on the pulse of it and things are changing and they’re always
testing and trying new things that much I know. But I think for me what
it really boils down to is it doesn’t
matter if you show up, once people click-through
that experience is terrible or the copy doesn’t sell them or you’re
making the wrong claims and that’s why I think that yes, you know its smart
for copywriters to have some basic fundamentals of SEO, does that make you a
quote-unquote SEO copywriter, do I think SEO should
ever be like the top priority, like the winner in a debate
between conversions and SEO I mean I wear my
advice on my sleeve, I feel like conversion
should win that battle each and every time. Like I’d rather
rank worst and sell more than rank better and sell less. It doesn’t make a
whole lot of sense for me, to reverse the two. So I think at the end of the day what it boils down to for me, is like yes, get informed on SEO and learn you know the factors,
and understand, but realize that
those are just one more tool in your toolkit. They’re not the be-all end-all and at the end of the day what we’re doing with
words is having conversations, sending messages
and you know hopefully, communicating
something of value. And on the web your
message is who you are. What you say on your website
is how you’ll be perceived and how people learn
from you and buy from you and take in your information. So I think that’s
way too important a thing to really just handover
to the SEO department and go here you
guys run with this. – Yeah absolutely. I was just reading a tweet, or tweeting back and forth
to with John Henry Scherck, who’s a guy I follow
quite a bit on Twitter I’ve had him on 100
Days of SEO as well, in really just thinking
more about what we do in SEO, as demand generation
or lead generation and seeing all of
it more holistically and seeing how we can help a
company more than just traffic. He said he had a case where he was trying to
beat out the content team, and it was you know, he had to tell his
boss hey we kinda need them, we can’t be in a race
against them to outperform them like you know this
works together right? So I wanna take a step back and really just if we could
put it in it like a snapshot or even like
that 10,000 foot view of like I think
there’s a huge overlap between SEO research, if we’re really
looking at the future of SEO which is very much intent
based and things like that SEO research very much
mirrors copywriting research so when you’re
starting to do research on either a new
project or even an existing one where do you start? And what kind of
insights can you give somebody who’s maybe doing SEO research to try to like match search
intent a little bit better and deliver I guess,
that better experience once somebody gets on the site? – Yeah, I mean the
research process is something that is long and nuanced and like probably
90% of what I do and what I get paid to do is
that research side of things and so for me it all
starts with conversations. Having structured conversations
with actual customers, actual leads,
so we’ll run surveys and we’ll look at
their experience of buying, what was the pain
that they were feeling that sent them looking, so we’re looking for
those purchase triggers. And the overlap for SEO is the way that they
talk about that pain and the way that they
describe those triggers. That’s gonna open up a
whole new world of things not only to
consider ranking for, but ways to talk
about it on the page, avenues to go down,
places to show up. We find out you know
not only what that pain was but how they tried
to solve it in the past so what are they coming off of, what information
sources did they turn too, ’cause for me I wanna
understand the context that surrounds
that decision making and for an SEO that’s
valuable because you know, for example lets say you’re
working for a software company and if 99% of
people go to review sites or go to something like a
G2 or Capterra or whatever, if they go there first then the people that
you’re competing against might not even be the
other people who show up, you know above you for
a certain set of keywords. It might be whoever ranks best on one of those
secondary platforms. Like your whole
strategy might shift. So we look at surveys,
we look at interviews, we look at the qualitative side to really understand
someone’s journey. What was their pain?
What outcome did they want? Where did they go
to for information? We find these conversations on places like Reddit and Quora and we look at just
the language people use to talk about the
outcomes that they want and the pains that they have
and those types of things and that’s how you know,
we steal those we bring those into the copy and that’s how we
make the messaging compelling and relatable,
so for SEO doing the same thing, that’s how you can drive not
only interest and awareness but find new
opportunities for ranking. Find out you know
like which keywords might be most significant to
a particular type of intent and then you can craft
the content around that. So for example for SEOs as well for queries that are
based on like an x versus y as a copywriter I know that that person is in the
product aware stage right? They know, they
understand their pain already they understand
how the solutions work, they understand that
there are multiple solutions but they’re actively
establishing preferences as to which one
is right for them. So if we start off
that page with a paragraph about you know
what link-building is, like if somebody was searching for x link-building vendor
versus y link-building vendor and your page that you
ranked for on that phrase started with a what is
link-building snippet, you lose. Because a person
already knows that, you’re giving them shinfo, information that
they already have, its not helpful to them. So when we understand the intent then we can craft the experience and then we can drive the sale. And when you’re
doing all of that, when you’re the most relevant,
useful piece of content that’s ranking for that
then you deserve to be there and that’s what
Google wants to see and that’s hopefully
what gets passed around and shared
naturally by humans too. Because it’s
actually legitimately valuable so it’s stops
being a game of like, do we have the
H1 in the headline? and more a game of like, do we answer this
question the best? And I know that there are
those like links still matter, there’s still black holes,
and black hat and all of these different
things that you could do to cheat the system. But at the end of the
day we have more aligned and more in common
than we do different, its not copy versus SEO, we are pulling in
the same direction. So there’s that
whole qualitative side and then the quantitative side which I think
we’ll also both look at, things like recorded sections. What sections do they look at? What sections do they ignore? Looking in analytics like
where they land on this page where do they go
next to understand, for me what gaps there
are in information and for an SEO you know, like
where do we need to interlink or where do we need
to make this clearer and that sort of thing. So there’s a lot of
overlap between the two and a lot of different benefits that come out of doing that
type of research on both fronts. – Yeah I just saw a thing
from my buddy Matt Giovinici was like, he was linking, he’s trying to get people to
sign up for his e-mail list from his blog posts and so he built out
this great auto-responder to push for the sale, and he was like
didn’t help anything and he goes then I just started putting
the products on the page and all of a
sudden sales went up. I was like well,
he’s not dumb but its like people are
further down the funnel than you thought they were, you thought they
needed to be nurtured and you didn’t realize
that like the buyer intent at this point, on
this article was real high. Awesome Joel, I really
appreciate your thoughts. Thanks for coming
on 100 Days of SEO. – Yeah thanks for having me. I think it’s a great project, I’m excited to see
who else you’ll feature. You’ve had some smart
folks like John Henry on, and I think its
a cool initiative so thanks for having me on. (upbeat jazz music) – Alright so we are recording, I look like a maniac today. (laughing) Awesome.

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