The Way We Work
November 14, 2011 by Stephanie Gonzaga

One of the most beneficial business investments you can make is search-engine optimized (SEO) content, which optimizes your website for search engines like Google, Yahoo or Bing. If done correctly, your site's pages can be the first few that pop up in a user’s search results, bringing in more traffic to your site and potential sales to your company.

However, the process of hiring an SEO writer is no small undertaking, as there are important factors you need to take into consideration before making your choice. In this post, we continue with the one-click interview series, focusing today on how to hire an SEO writer.

Tip #1: Have a clear idea of your SEO strategy.

The One-Click Interview Series:

Hiring a freelance professional, whether in the writing or graphic design industry, can be a challenge if you don't know what's involved. Check out our other one-click interview posts, "How to Hire a Freelance Writer" and "How to Hire a Freelance Graphic Designer."

First and foremost, you should have a clear understanding of what type of SEO content you want for your website. Are you looking for articles about the latest news, or do you want informational content that has a longer shelf life (also known as "evergreen" content)? What are the topics you want the articles to cover? For example, if you decide on news, should it be news about your industry, or about broader topics that are relevant to your target audience? How many articles do you need and how are you going to distribute them across your site?

If you don't know how to gather this kind of information, you can hire an SEO consultant to lay the groundwork for your strategy before hiring an SEO writer to create the content.

Tip #2: Hire based on the candidate’s skills and qualities.

You need to base your hiring decision on the candidate’s SEO writing skills and professional qualities. Ideally, you should be looking for someone who:

  • Excels in his profession – he has the writing ability to prove that he can excel in creating search-engine optimized content.
  • Is creative – she must be creative to generate a list of targeted keywords to integrate into your content, especially if you don't already have a list to provide her with. In addition, it takes a good amount of creativity to integrate keywords in a natural and effective way.
  • Understands the content area – he knows where to place the keywords and how to use his keywords in context. Without an understanding of your content area and industry, it’s very possible he could misplace and misuse the keywords, which may affect your business's reputation.
  • Understands the search industry – to put it simply, she should have a basic understanding of how users conduct their search, as well as of search engine marketing principles.
  • Is reliable and professional – obviously, he should perform as a professional  feedback from previous employers should indicate that he is reliable and delivers work in a timely manner.

Tip #3: Ask the right questions.

ask the right questionsNarrow down your list of candidates by asking questions during the interview stage. Make sure these questions focus on the candidate's knowledge, skills, and ability to act on problems or complete tasks assigned to them.

Here are examples of questions you can ask your candidates:

  • How much experience do you have writing search-engine optimized articles?
  • How much experience do you have writing about this industry/subject?
  • Describe your writing process. Do you write the article and then integrate the keywords, or do you integrate the keywords as you write? How do you decide where you want to place the keywords?
  • How do you handle constructive criticism of and feedback on your work?

Tip #4: Test and evaluate the SEO writer.

There should be a level of caution involved when hiring an SEO writer because you can't immediately know if he is up to date with the latest SEO trends or if he still uses "old-school" SEO tactics.

Besides asking them to expound on what they know about SEO, you can evaluate candidates by giving them a paid sample test. You could ask them to write a sample article about your business's niche, or to generate a list of keywords for a fictional company's website. The important thing here is the writer's ability to research and write high-quality content, and to skillfully integrate the appropriate keywords.

With these steps in mind, you can now hire an SEO writer who not only has the knowledge and skills needed for the job, but the attitude for success as well. And what better way to start looking for a professional SEO writer than with a search on oDesk?

Stephanie Gonzaga

Freelancer, Blogger, and Creative Writer

Stephanie Gonzaga is a freelancer on oDesk and blogger of The Freelance Pinoy, a freelancing blog for the Pinoy solo professional.