What’s actually included in SEO website copywriting costs?
It can seem like a website copywriter just asks you some questions, does some writing, and bosh, you’ve got new copy. Unfortunately, that’s not the case (otherwise I’d be rolling in it).
So, this blog post explains what you actually get when you hire an SEO website copywriter and what’s included in the fee. I’ll talk you through my process, some things to look out for, and the UK average costs to expect.
The strategy behind SEO website copy
What many people don’t realise is the work that goes on behind the scenes often takes much more thought and time than the writing part.
If I had to guess a specific number, I’d say only 20% of my time is spent actually writing.
Dave Harland sums it up well in the graphic below (image source).
For copy that sells, it needs to connect with your ideal customers. But before it can do that, your website copywriter needs to fully understand:
- What you do
- The value you provide
- Who those customers are
- What they’re struggling with
- What your customers’ goals are
- What your overall business aspirations are
- And what’s currently stopping you from getting there
Things that ‘sound good’ don’t necessarily convert potential customers into paying customers. That takes much more strategy, psychology, and overall marketing knowledge than simply being a natural with words.
So, what does a website copywriter actually do?
Any good SEO website copywriter – who’s doing things properly – will have an intensive research and idea generation period.
I have a proven tailored 5-step process so I can C.R.A.F.T. your web copy. This includes:
Chats (step one)
It always starts with a chat.
Interviewing you (the business owner and other team members)
The discovery call is the first casual chat, then once I start working with you, we have a client kick-off call. This is where I get to know everything about your business. I ask questions from my trusty client questionnaire about your services, how you work, why you set the company up, your goals for the future, your challenges, and the list goes on… It’s an often underrated part of the process. The more information I have about you, the better the result of your web copy.
Interviewing your past or current clients
Having conversations with your clients (usually 3-4 people who fit into your ideal client persona) is the best way to find out what they think of you. Conducting voice of customer research means understanding the language your customers use, their emotions towards your brand and service offer, and the transformation they go through after working with you. Having a list of pre-prepared interview questions is essential – and these questions differ from one client to the next. This is a non-negotiable part of my done-for-you website copywriting package.
Research (step two)
This includes looking at what others in your industry are doing already, and spotting any opportunities to stand out from the crowd. I look at what people are querying, their annoyances, reviews of those competitors, and any other ‘dirt’ I can find about your industry as a whole.
The research process depends on the audience and what you do, but it usually includes looking into:
- What people are searching for on Google (and the related queries)
- Searching keywords on SEO software to see the most popular results
- What your competitors are doing in the industry (and what they’re missing)
- Chat forums and review sites to see what people are discussing about you and your general industry
- Where your audience hangs out (trying to get into their mindset)
- Related topics to start forming an idea of other questions your audience may have down the line (and this also helps with planning content topic clusters).
All of this research paints a picture of what people are looking for so I can identify the best way to present your message.
I’ve mentioned this in the last part, but the SEO keyword research phase (using specialist SEO software) is to find out what exact search terms people are looking on Google for. This includes questions, their search intent, and the competition in the field. I then look for the best opportunities to rank, which often means lower competition and higher search volume from a more niche search term.
Articulate (step three)
This section is where it all starts to come to life…
Website sitemap and user flows
Usually, I work with people who are looking to change their website layout, either as it’s a new site altogether or they need to review and streamline things. If that’s the case, I support my clients with the sitemap to make sure the information flows in a way that makes sense to the user.
Website copy wireframes (the layout)
Once the exact pages are decided, I create a rough wireframe for each. This part of the planning allows me to make sure the information is all going in the right place, with corresponding internal links to navigate between the relevant information. This step includes headers, subheaders, buttons, and bullet points about key points to cover in each section. I also start populating the main keywords I’ve identified for each page at the wireframe stage, using them throughout the copy.
Writing the website copy
NOW comes the writing part… Can you see how much has been done already? The website copy starts to come to life only after all the planning, structure, and strategy have been decided. I use on-page SEO best practices including putting keywords and their semantic phrases in headings, subheadings, the body copy, anchor text, and image descriptions.
Bringing your brand voice and personality traits to life
After all the main information and structure is written, I start adding language to reflect your personality and unique way of working. This is the fun bit!
Feedback (step four)
When I work with clients on their full website copywriting projects, I usually work on the main service pages and possibly their about pages first. This forms the ‘meat’ of the website, so getting this submitted for feedback first works well.
I then move on to refining the rest of the pages, using any of the feedback given. The last thing I do is always the home page, which ties everything together.
Tweaks (step five)
Once the full website copy has been written and sent to the client for feedback, I make any final amendments.
Editing and proofreading
The last thing I do is always give the copy a final edit and proofread. This spots any potential mistakes and inconsistencies that can sometimes appear after amendment periods (extra spaces or the odd missing comma, for example).
The unseen side of what goes into website copywriting costs
While you may not see these things on a quote directly, they all play a part in the value your SEO website copywriter brings to the table. Of course, the final writing is what you’re paying for at the end, but here are the unseen sides of copywriting (and why they’re important)…
Yes, that means the time spent staring out of the window or going for a walk. Ideas need to marinate. They don’t come to us in our dreams and turn into perfectly crafted web copy, unfortunately.
Arranging calls, analysing data, invoicing, and writing proposals. Every copywriter has plenty of admin that happens behind the scenes.
Training and professional development
Countless books, mentoring, memberships, and hours spent keeping up with the latest trends. I’m currently enrolled in a mentoring course called Copy Champions to brush up on my copy skills, which obviously costs money.
To be an effective website copywriter, you also need knowledge in psychology, SEO, marketing (content marketing, email marketing, and more), content strategy, and UX copy.
Believe it or not, online and in-person networking improves the quality of a copywriter’s work. It broadens their horizons and allows them to meet with other creatives and business owners who can support future projects. That time, although not directly associated with your writing project, benefits you.
Then there are the usual business-related costs, such as subscriptions, insurance, office spaces, new pens, laptops, and anything else to keep the words flowing.
Don’t forget, freelancers also don’t have the same benefits employees do. So things like holiday cover, pensions, and sick leave don’t exist (unless they pay for a private scheme).
What’s the average cost of website copywriting services?
The latest ProCopywriters Survey states the average day rate of a copywriter in 2023 is £433.
Most copywriters, especially website copywriters, charge per project. It means you have an upfront cost and you know what’s included before getting started – I work this way and so do many of my peers.
But if you take everything into account (research, planning, writing, editing, and everything listed above), it usually averages out at a minimum of 1 full day per page (but it’s often more).
If you take a standard 5-paged website, the cost would be approx £2165 based on that working out, which is about right (5 x £433 = £2165).
Even if you went for a lower figure of £381 per day (2021’s average rate – which some copywriters today will still be charging), you’d be looking at £1905 for a 5-paged website.
However, this is not a hard and fast rule! It’s an average estimation based on my experience writing multiple websites and tracking my time.
Factors affecting website copywriting quotes
There are lots of factors which affect the overall price, including:
- The complexity of your offer. Straightforward concepts people already ‘get’ require less work than a new or different approach to doing something.
- The flow of your website. A larger website doesn’t always mean each page needs as much planning, as you might be able to repeat the structures.
- Your audience’s needs. Some business have more objections to cover in the copy
- Whether you have a defined tone of voice (TOV) yet – most people I work with don’t, so I include TOV development in my project fee unless I see a detailed guide I can follow.
- The website copywriter’s experience level. Naturally, you’d expect to pay more for senior copywriters compared to someone who’s just starting out.
- Your current strategy. If you already have an extensive SEO strategy and keyword research, this may not be required, so it would reduce the quote.
Advice on website copywriting costs
Be sure to check what the website copywriting quote includes, because not everyone includes such an extensive research phase in their quotes as I do.
- If they are suggesting customer interviews, are these included in the price or is it an add-on fee?
- Does the website copywriting include keyword research, SEO titles, and meta descriptions?
- How many rounds of amends are included? Some copywriters only include 1, with added fees for any more. Depending on how good the first draft of the copy is, this could lead to a fair chunk of money.
Summary of what’s included in the website copywriting cost
So, as you can see, there’s much more to good web copy than some words that sound impressive. The costs for website copywriting may seem high, but think of it this way… If your current messaging is putting your ideal clients off working with you, how much money are you losing?
The investment will pay off when you start getting more ideal clients coming to you with fewer objections. Your sales process becomes smoother, and you can focus on delivering a great service to your customers instead of convincing leads you’re good at what you do.
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