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Successful SEO is All About the Writing
By: Peter Wipf
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“Content is king!” It's a popular proclamation, but what makes it true? How do you garner swarming attention online, high rankings in search engines, wildly viral social media sharing? How can you lure customers in with it?
If content is the carrot that gets people to your site, that content better be damn good. Kick ass, in fact. Ranking high in Google based on fees, bribes, or dumb luck will never be enough; readers know that thousands of sites are competing for their attention — they will give you just a few seconds to impress them before they move on to your competitors. Success will be fleeting.

The first rule is quality. Painfully obvious? Not really! Just think about how often you Google (or maybe Bing is your thing) for information, answers, enlightenment, or just plain fun. Every search yields thousands of pages clamoring for your attention, most of which are difficult to digest and not especially informative, right? Clearly, those who get it are in the minority. To succeed, you need to be one of them.
Quality content means you're providing better information than most other sites or blogs. Deeper and different, with an original voice, useful detail, and direct resources, not just regurgitated data that can be found anywhere. But it still must be as succinct as possible, without turning into a list. It's got to be engaging. It has to captivate readers in a digital world akin to Times Square — with all its massive numbers of distractions and alternatives.
To make your mark, you can't let your articles sound like they came out of an article mill (Hello, CrowdSource), pumping out information that could just as easily have been computer generated. Proper punctuation and spelling? Check. Precise number of words? You bet. Originality? Depth? Well-crafted wording? Not a chance. Don't be one of those. Mass production in digital sweatshops just won't work, not long-term, anyway. Resist the urge to be cheap and rushed when it comes to the quality of your content. You get what you pay for, or what you put into a site yourself. An author who will accept $10 for an article will deliver a $10 job. And one person churning out a dozen articles per day is not giving each piece the attention it needs to be truly kick ass. That's just the way it is. A finger painting isn't a Renoir.
Once an article is great, it needs to be groomed for SEO. With a key phrase in mind, a good writer can massage the story, inserting that phrase enough times to tip off the search engines, yet in creative, camouflaged ways that aren't so blatantly obvious and quality crushing. (We have all seen the internet articles that keep repeating phrases in incredibly unnatural ways that should not be used in internet articles and which don't make internet articles very much fun to read, right?) A writer who takes more time and has actual talent can seamlessly weave the phrases into quotes, subheads, resource lists, or other less obtrusive portions of the text.
One huge mistake that many companies make is hiring programmers to manage SEO. Programmers are awesome. They're like magicians. Who doesn't stand in awe of someone who can crunch a bunch of code and turn it into a super cool app? But rare is the highly skilled programmer who is also a truly excellent writer. Trying to combine these two vastly different skills into one job description usually means that either the programming or the content will suffer. And believe it or not, content should be the priority. Just ask Google. Their techies spend a great deal of time trying to assess whether or not your content is useful and well received by those who find it. Although code is invaluable and can help with SEO, Google cares very little about code when their readers aren't finding the quality text and information they're seeking.
For those who know all this, and apply it, content certainly is king. One article can pay for itself a thousand times over. For everyone else, content is just a pushy sales pitch — working at first (sometimes), but ultimately turning the customer off.
Don't do that.
Instead, go out and kick some ass.
And hail to the king.

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About the Author
Peter Wipf is an SEO, web marketing, and online PR specialist, managing both organic and paid search for his clients. He is a published author on a variety of topics, and has worked for About.com and The New York Times online, among others.
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