Lucy Crossfield used to work in the team I currently manage at Amara before I joined the company! We did meet beforehand though at a blogger event that Amara ran, which was at Wedgwood museum for a pottery class and tour. Now she is Deputy Editor at MVF Global and leads a team of writers. Find out about her tips for writing with SEO in mind.
Lucy now works at an acquisitions company where she is a content manager. Amara was her first SEO position as she knew Sam & Andy Hood who own the business and gave her a chance as a content marketing assistant. She learnt SEO and outreach, then after a year moved over to MVF.
Get in touch with Lucy via Twitter!
Editorial Content with SEO in Mind
4:07. Lucy has SEO background knowledge which is ideal for doing editorial and content creation. It’s a balance between writing and search engine optimisation and a matter of understanding how to do this together. The team at MVF was at first a ‘Jack of all trades’ so this was split into SEO experts and content experts. Lucy now is within the latter but has the SEO background that’s very useful to ensure that everyone is doing all the right things for search and organic visibility.
It starts with targets and metrics that are based around organic traffic. Successful pieces achieve those positions that are set and satisfying the intent for that search. It’s important to make sure it’s clear to your audience what the aim of the content piece is (easier said than done,) as well as contextualised for Google. Lucy manages a team of writers, which means she mentions the intent of content often. She encourages them to understand first how a ‘how to’ guide is different to a cost page for example.
The intent is what readers want to get out of your article and can be something top level or bottom of the funnel where you have higher intent pages for sign ups or purchases.
It’s no surprise therefore that the target and KPI is dependent on the content piece the editorial team write and that it’ll guide the content strategy.
Supporting Editorial with Video, Outreach & Social Media
7:00. MVF have a large team that have a lot of specialisms. Lucy manages the writers who focus on day to day articles but the company also has a video team who work together on projects to increase engagement.
There’s also an outreach team who increase backlinks for articles that’s still important. Getting feedback for content before launching into the projects is important so that you can also take the time to think about where the content will sit and you can plan ahead for this. Social media has an affect on rankings for amplification of content. It plays a part in distribution to get people reading the content, from there get feedback and see what works and what doesn’t. For example, is it appropriate for Twitter or Linkedin etc.
9:40. Companies use social listening tools to collate topics that they should write about. Find out what questions people are asking and group these as well as topics. Here are a few tools that can help you with this:
Answer the public
The 9 best free social listening tools for your small business
The 5 best social media monitoring tools for your business
Lucy shares that the top tools used by her content team for gathering keyword research is SEMrush. Keyword research can be endless and you can even check what people always ask at the bottom of Google pages to find out more. Lucy says that they have an SEO specialist who does deep dives using search console too.
Google playing around for ‘people also search for’. Manually check or use a scraper to see what people may also be interested in. Google is showing the questions and phrases because they’re closely related.
Featured Snippet Tips
13:00. Featured snippets have increased to show two on the same page or show up using different forms, such as tables or numbered lists. Strategic building is worth it and gains you eyeballs on the page. Izzi Smith from Sixt provides plenty of information on featured snippets, she has done a great webinar with Searchmetrics.
Play around with the structure from paragraphs to bullet points and using schema markup. Use headers in the content itself too as is best practice. Address what the query is and make it super explicit as to what you’re answering and if you’re already ranking well for that query then you’ll see high success a few days later. Sometimes it takes 3 months to persuade that Google should have a featured snippet if there isn’t one already but much quicker if there is already one appearing.
Latest: images tab also offering discovery suggestions that are in text form.
High Quality Content
16.30. Get into grips with high quality content as it’s one of top 2 or 3 ranking factors. MVF had a massive push to implement new processes and insists (rightly) a couple of rounds of proofing. They make content stand out and so should you. Lucy’s number 1 tip is just to cut the unnecessary words. There are lots of extra fluff words and as attention spans are low in the digital world these need to be cut out. She recommends 3 to 4 sentences per paragraph and sentences that shouldn’t be longer than 30-40 words. The easier you make the content to read the more likely they’re to be engaged and you’ll have good metrics, such as increased dwell time. Bounce rate goes down too and so overall, you’ll see great engagement metrics. Even the number of page views in a session goes up. Although these may not be perfect KPIs, they give a good indication, especially when looking at an average. Take your time to drill into those engagements weekly and do a bigger view monthly.
20:10. As an ecommerce site we include product within articles to make money, we look at how many people view the product or add to bag. People looking at inspiration aren’t looking to buy but we’re also seeing them clicking onto these which is interesting. The funnel is very important for every company. Capture people’s interest at top level.
A nice article for the blog is good but funnel them through that conversion or sign up to be successful. That’s where as a copywriter or team need to focus on to get the readers. Quizes are also a piece of content, refreshing them and ensuring that they’re still useful and engaging. Go back to content and update it. Lucy has top performing content that’s consistently reviewed, especially those with high conversion for the brands.
Freshness is a ranking factor too as Google wants to know whether you’re keeping it updated and if it’s still useful to the readers. There are writers who go back and refresh their content to see more traffic and engagement. The intent is fulfilled and people continue to enjoy it.
If you have content that isn’t performing then it’s dead weight so get rid of it.
20% of your site doesn’t need to be there, especially sites with thousands of URLs. Lucy recommend going through and not being afraid of chopping those out pages that aren’t doing well.
SEO Editorial Basics
24:21. If you’re starting out and have little resource then read up about the basics. Not just launching in and writing but understanding the keyword research and what users want to see. Simple off-page information such as meta tags and click-through information is ideal for this.
Read/Watch/Listen: Moz whiteboard Friday and Niel Patel.
Basics means you’re off to a good start. Every page needs to have a clear intent and purpose and this needs to be mapped out. Then, you can turn your mind into what you need to include.There are plenty of copywriting tips. Planning and organising is nothing new either because if you’re writing a book you need to have a plan! You also need to plan so that there’s no cannibalisation in your eco-system. USP for every article so that it doesn’t compete.
This podcast shares information to help YOU write good content.
27.30. Lucy says they have a good understanding of the brand on which they work on. Familiar with content that’s there as they’ve been working with them for years. Find out what you’re already ranking for and do a site search to see if there are any keywords cannibalising for and adjust accordingly.
EXAMPLE: Go onto Google. Type in site:www.amara.com ‘keyword’ to see all the pages that have the keyword within it.
Lucy’s team reframes the content so that there is no competition between different content pieces and Google sees this distinguished. At Amara we do the same, get rid of old content, repurpose it for another intent if it’s not performing. Knowing when to delete or redirecting into a new page is also important. If you have a page and you need to delete it, it’s only worth redirecting if similar to the old content but only redirect if it’s useful and if it adds value.
Music credit: I Dunno (Grapes of Wrath Mix) by spinningmerkaba (c) copyright 2017 Licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution (3.0) license. http://dig.ccmixter.org/files/jlbrock44/56346 Ft: Jlang, 4nsic, grapes.