Marketers who want to get found online have a dilemma: they need to write for the search engines and for the readers, their prospects. Unfortunately today I see both good writing that clearly won’t work for the search engines, and really bad writing that has keywords and phrases in all the right places but doesn’t speak to the reader.
One reason for bad writing is that too many marketers leave their website content up to their web developers. Nothing against web developers, but they have a job to do: get that website done (so they can bill for the project) and drive traffic to the website. Website owners don’t always provide page content in a timely manner (in my experience, this is the number one reason website projects get delayed). So, someone has to fill the gap, and that person may not even understand the site owner’s business.
Another example of bad writing is in press releases distributed online to get picked up by Google and drive more traffic to websites. In my experience, these press releases can be highly effective and can make your phone ring. (I still see press releases that I submitted online in 2006 coming up in search results for my clients – they are like marketing gifts that keep on giving!) But, there is nothing worse than a poorly written press release. Even though some use this tactic solely to improve search engine performance and traffic to a website, heaven forbid a real editor picks up the release, is interested in the topic, then is turned off by horrible writing.
With press releases, I’m not just writing about bad grammar. If a writer doesn’t think through the angle used in your press release, you could damage your credibility. A case in point was a press release I saw recently about the quality of education for new entrants into a certain industry. The press release writer created a press release angle and blithely “dissed” the industry educational programs. He got a scathing response from his local colleagues – industry experts who teach in those programs. It was pretty clear to me that the press release was written for search engine optimization purposes without careful thought as to the angle. The writer really blew it by angering the community of the organization that put out the press release.
A writer who truly understands SEO and can write great content, copy, and other materials is essential today, but very hard to find.
What’s your experience with maintaining a balance between SEO and compelling business writing?