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Freelance SEO Writers: Advice on How to Handle Clients Who Know Very Little about SEO

Updated on February 16, 2010

As an SEO copywriter, sometimes you’ll receive requests from prospects that immediately relay the fact that they’re not familiar with what search engine optimization is all about. Believe it or not, this presents an excellent chance for you to land them as a client. Why? Because you become more valuable to them when you demonstrate how your skill as an SEO writer can help them increase sales.

Following are some things to look for that tell you that your prospect is new to search engine optimization marketing – and some advice for what to do in certain situations.

1. No Details: There’s a lot that goes into crafting a quote for SEO writing jobs. You have to know the keywords, how the content is going to be used, where it’s going to be distributed, the site URL, etc.

When clients fail to provide you with certain basics, then it’s a clue that they’re new to SEO marketing.

2. Quibble about Rates: Now while SEO writing rates (and indeed freelance writing rates as a whole) tend to be all over the place, many SEO writing jobs take the cake for being notoriously low paying. I’m sure you’ve run across those ads where they want a 500-word article for $3. And they want perfect English, a fast turnaround and good, interesting copy.

Yeah right buddy! You ain’t gonna get it for $3.

If a prospect tells you that your rates are too high, and you’re in the $25-$75 per article (350-400 words) range, they’re not looking for professionals. This means they probably don’t know a heck of a lot about how search engine optimization marketing works.

SEO content is what drives traffic and sales. Good, well-written, informative SEO content. While crappy, keyword-stuffed copy will drive traffic to a site, how long do you think a visitor will stay there? And, how good are your chances that they’ll return?

Good SEO writing, like any other kind of writing, is a skill. And, while SEO writing rates may vary, there are some that are bottom of the barrel – there’s just no other way to put it. As an SEO copywriter, you don’t want to work for clients like this. Why?

Not only will you be chained to your computer to make a decent living, if the prospect finds someone cheaper than you – off they’re likely to go.

3. They Leave a Lot of Decisions Up to You: If a client leaves a lot of the decisions about copy up to you, it’s another clue that they don’t know a lot about search engine optimization marketing. This can cut both ways in that it can be a good thing, or a bad thing.

While you want clients to give you leeway, you do want some direction from them because if what you do doesn’t produce the results they want/need/expect, guess who they’re going to blame? Yep. You.

When a client has a well thought out marketing strategy, they’re able to tell you as their SEO copywriter what they need. Again, they can give you some leeway, but the overall content strategy is something that should come from them.

For example, I have a client who gives internet marketing seminars around the country. They hired my SEO writing company to develop their blog for them. It had been sitting stagnant for months because, as a small, buy busy firm, they just didn’t have time to update it regularly. My company has provided their blog content for over a year now.

But, they tell us what they want us to write about. Every few months, the marketing strategist will email me something like:

For the next two months Yuwanda, we want to focus on Google. So, can you give us content about how to optimize marketing campaigns for Google? I'll let you know when we'll want to change the focus of the content. Thanks.

While I come up with what the content will entail, they give me the topic.

This is what I mean when I say you want a client who will give you some leeway, but the SEO content strategy must come from them.

View an actual email from an SEO writing prospect who didn't know much about search engine optimization marketing – and how I responded to them that left the door open for future work. And, good luck in your SEO writing and marketing efforts.


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    • Yuwanda Black profile image

      Yuwanda Black 7 years ago


      Like you, I'm running into this more and more. Clients seem to be on both sides of the spectrum. Either they know SEO and can tell you exactly what they want, or they don't know anything and I have to help them along the way. While those who don't know can be a bit more difficult to work with, I've found that once they "get it," they turn into long-term, easy to work with clients.

      Glad you found this article helpful.



    • Susana S profile image

      Susana S 7 years ago

      Thanks for this Yuwanda! I am getting more and more SEO work where clients don't know what they want or what they need. They have a vague idea that they might need articles or a blog, backlinks or better content. I'm finding it really hard to price up these jobs, espcially as I like to look at their websites and their competitors sites first in order to weigh these things up. And I'm not going to do that until they pay me, lol. Good job and thanks for writing on this topic :)