A Business Writer Who Gets SEO is a Marketer’s Best Friend

by Jennifer Beever

Seesaw Balance

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?


{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

Audre Hill September 18, 2011 at 5:43 pm

What a relief to find your blog post! I write SEO press releases and content — not the keyword-stuffing kind — but the kind that strategically uses the same terms audiences use when searching online.

What I’ve found is that many marketers aren’t aware that ‘quality’ SEO writing even exists for long term organic traffic.

Until Google’s Panda update started cleaning up poor quality sites, many marketers had been able to get results with cheaply outsourced keyword-laden filler churned out by so-called SEO writers.

The result is that the term ‘SEO writer’ now has a bad connotation, so those of us who know the difference and write valuable content optimized for search engines are in a kind of keyword limbo.

I can’t even count the posts and forum threads I’ve read warning people to stay away from SEO writers after Panda — so what should we call ourselves now to get found? (I’m still working on that one!)

On top of that, with the rise of social media, many people believe that SEO is obsolete – which couldn’t be further from the truth.

Good keyword research and optimization means the content is using the language of the audience. For readers, it fades into the background and lets the message stand out. For search engines, it’s a clear signal that the content matches the intention of the search terms, so it gets awarded a higher position in the SERPs (search engine results pages).

I think many marketers are still in the grips of post-Panda sticker shock. Quality SEO writing costs more than they’ve been used to paying for keyword filler.

But as you pointed out, well-written and optimized articles and press releases are investments in assets that pay long term dividends. Once that sinks in and marketers are willing to pay accordingly, they’ll find it much easier to locate good SEO business writers!

Jennifer Beever September 20, 2011 at 11:47 am

Thanks Audre, at least there are some of us who can write and include intelligent SEO tactics at the same time!

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