Search engines are continually improving the way they serve up results to their ‘customers’.
But one thing remains constant – and that’s their emphasis on seeking out great content. Over the last year or two, 2013/12, search engines have become much better at determining tricks that give a website more weight than it deserves, and demoting them accordingly. Some have even been wiped from Google completely.
Creative not technical
The future of search is in content, so that means that the emphasis has shifted significantly from a technical role to a creative one. Where once, a website could determine its position by copious keyword stuffing and mass link building, search engines will look at these as manipulative and instead look more at the content elements, and natural links in and out of the site.
The writer of your content should be one of two people. The first is you, because you know your business, industry and customer base better than anybody else; the second is a professional writer, such as someone with a PR or journalistic background. Which of these you choose will depend on whether you’re managing your own SEO, or outsourcing it.
Old school is old hat
That means if you are choosing an SEO firm to do your optimisation, the first question to ask is: “What is your writing background”?
SEO companies need to move with the times just like any other industry, and the ones who have embraced this shift will be employing experienced PRs, ex-journalists and copywriters.
Unlike many SEOs, these people know how to write for humans, they write compelling copy and have good grammar and language skills.
Many PRs, copywriters and journalists who had no experience of writing for websites or search engines, have gained extra experience working in a web or SEO environment to add the necessary skills to be perfectly aligned to search engine guidelines, which ironically state that websites should be written for humans not search engines.
This combined skillset is important if you are to pay the prices demanded by good practitioners. On the other side of the coin, many ‘old school’ SEOs will have no experience of writing for human readers, yet might have a good record of results using keywording, backlinking, forum commenting, guest blogging, mass directory submissions, etc.
If they haven’t grasped that things have changed, they’ll find out the hard way, and so will you, but the unfortunate conclusion is that with SEO being such a misunderstood process by lay businesspeople, you could end up paying through the nose for an outdated service, and then locked into paying even more to undo bad work.
Asking this simple question “What is your writing background” will help you sort the wheat from the chaff.