In the next few days I have an interview for an SEO Copywriter position – which has prompted a very unexpected reaction from my friends and colleagues.
My background: broadcast journalism – 10 years of writing news scripts and documentaries. More recently I have “gone digital”, completed an MA in Online Journalism and worked with clients on social media strategy, content and data visualizations.
It is not a huge leap for me to consider roles which require some technical understanding of the internet, search and content.
So, WHY has there been such a dismissive reaction to this particular role?
Three letters – SEO.
The ones who know what SEO stands for (Search Engine Optimization, for those who do not) are what I call the “good” people of the internet. They are journalists and hyper-local bloggers, trainers working with not-for-profit organizations and university lecturers.
They do worthwhile work. They are good people.
To them, anyone who actively goes after search engine ranking via SEO is, as one put it, “creating all that crap online”.
You Give SEO a Bad Name
Yes, there are some very unscrupulous activities online – web marketing is a big business and naturally companies will be tempted to take the fast-easy route. Various black-hat techniques, link baiting, hidden text, cloaking an, of course, spamming, are a blight.
However, as Google improves its crawling techniques, and its spiders evolve more “human” sentiment, so the cracks will show in traditional “black hat” techniques. It was interesting to see that content was a particular focus of Google’s latest update (nicknamed Panda) and sites that were using article spinning, anchor text and paid links saw their rankings hit.
Google process of judging a website’s content as a reader would, has the potential to drive content quality UP, instead of down.
It’s just a shame that this does not necessarily mean the end of link-farms and poorly-written, keyword stuffed articles. Google is not the only search engine, and some companies get enough business from the less-fickle Yahoo and MSN to not worry about quality content.
Reader or Crawler?
I find the worst web content has been written for a crawler – to generate a high page ranking.
However, with the increase in popularity of social networks (Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn), and bookmarking tools (e.g. Delicious, Instapaper) the reader now plays a much more active role in the process.
They are now much more than just a number, boosting impression rates. They now have the potential to share, recommend, link to and blog about content they like, whether that is to their friends, or to a niche, specialist circle.
An interesting piece of copy with the relevant material highlighted, tagged and organized will keep the crawlers, and your readers, happy.