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Q & A with Charlotte Riley at A.C. Riley Communications


Copywriting / November 24, 2008

A few weeks ago, Xurxo had the pleasure of interviewing Étienne Garbugli, web usability expert at Kotsego. This week we had the pleasure of interviewing another valued partner –  Anne Charlotte Riley of A.C. Riley Communications. Charlotte is a master wordsmith who excels at delivering optimized online content that is both people and search engine friendly. We’ve had the pleasure of working with Charlotte on several occasions including getting her to polish some of the content on our own site after seeing what she’s capable of.

Martin Perron: How did you get your start in SEO, and what keeps you there?

Anne Charlotte Riley: I had been working as an editor at online directory LookSmart, and was a part of their paid listings program. We worked with several large online retailers, to create granular content within the directory’s categories. The e-tailers would supply me with relevancy keywords, which I would integrate. As a writer and former marketer, it piqued my curiosity about online search and online marketing. I started reading everything I could. That’s where it began. What keeps me here is easy: I love what I do. The fact that people pay me to write is a bonus. I love working on a wide variety of projects, because you are always learning.

MP: What are you most passionate about when it comes to SEO?

ACR: A holistic approach, definitely. The site has to be good for the user, the content has to be keyword rich, interesting to read and informative for the user. If it isn’t, it probably isn’t “link-worthy.” If the design is dreadful, it doesn’t matter how much you tweak the text or build incoming links… if it isn’t “people friendly”, the conversion just won’t be there. I get a lot of satisfaction from creating keyword rich content that is also really engaging copy.

MP: With all the different SEO strategies in existence, tell us a bit about your approach?

ACR: I’m not the type of person who sits around trying to reverse-engineer Google’s algorithmic formula to create some magical mathematical equation that can be applied to every site. That’s nuts!! Each and every site is different. In the initial planning sessions, the stakeholders need to agree on one thing: what defines success for a website. Is it a download? Is it a sign-up? There needs to be a clearly defined goal. You must fully understand the information the site visitor wants. Only once you know those two things can you write the content and design the site.

I come from a strong marketing and visual arts background. In addition to my experience creating marketing plans and marketing copywriting, I have a BFA and used to be the production manager at a graphics arts company in Toronto. So, the merge of the visual and the copy is extremely important to me, how they work together…

MP: What’s your elevator pitch?

ACR: I craft compelling keyword-rich copy that is good for search engines and GREAT for site visitors to help increase traffic, brand awareness, sales and engagement levels.

MP: Which blogs are a must read for you – those that you really can’t wait for the next post to come out?

ACR: That’s hard. But if I had to name a few, they would most likely be:

But honestly, every week I read a bit of everything – SEO, marketing, copywriting, social media, some tech news, you get the idea…


MP: What advice regarding SEO would you give to a client during tougher economic times like the one many industries are facing right now?

ACR: Even with cutbacks to marketing budgets, marketing during a recession is not an option. It’s mandatory. But it has to show a return – quantifiable results – and you have to get more bang for your buck. Optimizing your site is a smart investment, as it helps in a variety of ways: increases your online brand visibility, increases conversion rates to help drive sales and revenues, and compared to traditional marketing channels – it’s highly affordable, highly reliable and highly targeted.

Optimizing your site delivers incredible reach for people who are already looking for your product or service – so they are re-qualified to buy, or at least are in the information-gathering stage of the sales cycle. With SEM and SEO, there are built-in metrics that, again, traditional media such as print advertising, cannot match as precisely. Consumers now see the Internet as a necessity – a recent survey said that people are more likely to cut back on cable rather than their Internet packages.

So advice:

  • Spend wisely.
  • Have clear objectives.
  • Review your keywords – are there any opportunities that you aren’t taking advantage of?
  • Analyze your website. How could the sales funnel be improved? Are there ways to up-sell or cross-sell? How can you show real value to your online visitors? If you can do that, you increase the odds of return visits and repeat customers.

About A.C. Riley Communications

A.C. Riley Communications is dedicated to delivering strategic copywriting and optimized online content. Producing collaterals that get read, handled, perused and passed around, they build connections by delivering an entertaining, informative and targeted message: yours. You can learn more about Charlotte at or follow her on twitter:

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