10 top tips to get the most out of your website content writer
Being a website content writer isn’t easy.
The web page you’re looking at right now is just one of the 15.5 billion built on WordPress. The world’s most popular website platform hosts around a third of the internet, according to its own statistics.
On WordPress sites alone, there are more than 40 million new posts published every month.
That’s almost 1,000 pieces of content every minute.
Whichever industry you’re in, competition for attention has never been so intense.
That means the bar for the content you publish has never been higher.
So, how do you make sure your website content writer is up to the job?
In this post, we share 10 insightful and actionable tips for getting the most out of your content writer. Whether that’s an employee, a freelancer or an agency writer.
We’ve organised our tips around some popular questions on this subject. Enjoy.
What does a website content writer do?
Your content writer should be able to do more than just new landing page copy. Even if you have a limited content marketing budget, you will want the ability to experiment with different types of content.
A good writer will be able to adjust their style and tackle at least some of the following popular writing assignments:
- Case Studies
- Search Landing Pages
- Conversion Landing Pages
- Ebooks and Whitepapers
- Video Scripts
- Text Outlines for Infographics
- User Personas
- Webinar Decks
For some brands, you might be reliant on just one content writer. Or at least a small team.
That often means the same people need to tackle content beyond your website. This will likely include:
- Short blurbs to introduce content on social media
- Long-form social media posts
- Copy for email newsletters, sales emails and drip email campaigns
- Pitch decks, sales scripts and other marketing collateral
Finding one person who can do all of this can be tricky.
What you’re looking for is someone who can not only knock out a tight piece of copy. But someone who really understands what it is that makes a piece of copy work.
A content writer who can adjust their style completely from one assignment to the next. And who has the right attitude to take on new challenges.
It can often be easier to give different pieces of content to different writers. That’s only an option internally if you have a big writing team. It’s one of the reasons that 59 per cent of Aussie brands outsource at least part of the content marketing.
What skills does a website content writer need?
Aside from the flexibility to take on different writing assignments, here are the core skills you should look for in a content writer:
Most online journeys start with a Google search. So, SEO is a must-have for anyone working on your website content.
The evolution of search has meant that ranking for useful keywords now requires genuinely relevant and useful content.
That means an SEO-savvy content writer is not only more likely to produce content that people will get to see. It also means their content will provide the depth and quality your audience demands.
Based on our experience, the two most important aspects of writing for search are metadata and SERP Analysis.
Metadata: what you’re looking for here is a good understanding of how metadata helps Google crawl and index content.
And then good discipline in the application of best practice. Proper use of H1 and H2 tags, title tags, meta descriptions and image alt tags can make a big difference, especially when applied across your whole site or entire blog archive.
SERP Analysis: your content writer should be able to analyse search results.
Before they write anything, they should have a target keyword and they should be looking at the pages currently ranking for that target keyword.
They need the knowledge and experience to be able to decide if and how to compete with and outperform those pages.
And, once they’ve made a decision, they need the writing skill and subject matter expertise to execute on it.
This is becoming an acronym-fest.
CRO (conversion rate optimisation) is about increasing the likelihood that a user will take the action or actions you want.
It’s really important that your writer is not disconnected from your conversion goals.
Ultimately, users completing forms, subscribing to newsletters or following you on social is why you hired your content writer in the first place.
So, it’s super important to loop them in on what their content needs to achieve.
Every piece of content should support a conversion goal. That’s a tangible, measurable action by a user not just more traffic or more indexed pages.
Garbage in, garbage out
Proper, fair use of source material is criminally under-valued on the internet.
We have always demanded high standards of sourcing from our writers. And you should do the same.
It’s not only ethically right and good professional practice. It’s also likely to become an increasingly important ranking factor.
Think about it. Whatever topic you come up with for your blog, chances are it’s been covered multiple times already.
Google is trying to sift through all that content and serve up the result that offers the most value to users.
As its algorithms get increasingly smart, proper referencing of authoritative, primary sources will be a very good indicator of how reliable a piece of content is likely to be.
One particular bugbear of ours, which is a good test for potential writers, works like this:
- Give them a broad topic relevant to your industry
- Ask them to find 10 stats and link to their sources
If you get links to a bunch of blog articles that have all been cobbled together from second-hand stats from a quick Google search, don’t hire them.
But if they’ve tracked their stats back to where they started, linking to the original sources – and those sources are relevant and authoritative – you’ve got a keeper.
How do you tell if your website content writer is doing a good job?
Once you’ve hired a content writer you’ll want to set them some KPIs to make sure you’re getting a return on your investment. Here are some ideas:
Feedback from sales
Chances are, your sales team speaks to more people than anyone else in your business.
If your writer is doing a good (or bad) job, they’ll probably hear about it.
Our writing teams love hearing positive feedback from sales. When a prospect has said they really enjoyed a piece of content we created it gives everyone a boost.
You should formalise this feedback and make it part of your writer’s review process.
Earlier in this post we talked about the importance of getting your writer to understand and support your conversion goals.
If you’ve done that then you should be able to make achieving those conversions part of their KPIs.
You should set up conversion goals for different stages of your sales funnel. At the top of the funnel, you want softer, low commitment conversions, such as a social media follow, a newsletter subscription or an ebook download.
Then at the bottom of the funnel, more sales-oriented, higher commitment actions, such as a case study download or a call back request.
Your writer can help you achieve all of these conversion goals. Where possible, they should have direct access to the data so they can take ownership of what they need to achieve.
Content marketing campaigns should always be built around conversion goals. Tangible, measurable user actions are essential for achieving ROI.
But you also want to track leading indicators. This is where you can start to see evidence that your work is going to pay off even if your sales team is yet to buried in hot leads.
For your content writer that might include:
- Rankings for target keywords
- Organic traffic to new or updated pages
- Pages per session
- Dwell time
- Social media shares
- Email open rates and click rates
- Whitepaper or ebook downloads
How can a website content writer learn about your brand?
Your writer needs to understand your brand.
That can be a challenge, whether you’re dealing with an in-house writer, a freelancer or an agency writer.
So how do you get your writer up to speed on your brand?
This is an obvious one. But it’s also the best place to start.
Reading your brand guidelines will help your content writer get a feel for your business, your key messaging and how you want to present yourself to the world.
If your brand guidelines are quite limited, it’s a good idea to expand them to include the tone and style you want to see in your writing.
Ideally what you want is a creative brief, which any writer can use to work out how to write for your brand. This should cover the topics you want to write about and where you stand on recurring stories and issues in your space.
Speak to sales
If your content writer is in-house, have them listen in on sales calls or go out with your sales team to meet prospects.
Brand guidelines and creative briefs are super helpful. But nothing beats hearing first hand the questions prospects ask, the objections they raise and the language they use.
Spending time with sales will help your writer come up with new ideas for blogs, landing pages and other assets that your audience is demanding.
It will also help them build a strong relationship with the people sales. This can be a really useful way to keep your content closely aligned with your commercial goals.
Interview product specialists
Your content writer should understand your brand. They should also know the products and services you sell and the processes you use to deliver them to clients.
But they will never know as much as the product managers. Especially if the nature of your business is highly technical.
If you employ a team of engineers or a lab full of scientists, your content writer is not going to get near their level of expertise.
But you can combine these different skill sets you have at your disposal.
Your writer brings the ability to communicate in an engaging and digestible way with your target audience. And your product specialists and in-house experts bring the deep, technical knowledge that can help earn trust and build authority in your content.
Interviews can be used to provide background and detail for pieces of content. Or they can be presented in a Q&A style, which is also a good way to humanise your brand and raise the profile of your most knowledgeable people.
Our 10 tips in summary
Thank you for reading. Here are our 10 tips for getting the most out of your website content writer in summary:
Tip #1: Your writer should be able to adjust their writing style for different types of content.
Tip #2: As well as blogs, landing pages and downloadable assets, this should include content for social media and collateral for your sales team.
Tip #3: SEO is an essential skill for any content writer. They should understand best practice for using metadata and be able to analyse search results.
Tip #4: Your content writer should understand your commercial goals. Their KPIs should include driving useful, measurable actions on your site.
Tip #5: Don’t accept sloppy use of source material. Properly researched and referenced articles will become increasingly useful in search and will get a better response from your users.
Tip #6: Canvass your sales team for feedback on what your writer is doing. Your sales team has more direct contact with your target audience than anyone else.
Tip #7: As well as more conversions, use softer KPIs and leading indicators to understand if your content is working.
Tip #8: Expand your brand guidelines to include tone, style and topics for your content writer to follow.
Tip #9: Send your website content writer out with the sales team to give them direct exposure to the market they’re writing for.
Tip #10: Make interviews part of your content strategy. They will help your writer learn about your brand and boost the profile of your best people.