If you have spent much time searching for a product or service online, you have probably encountered them: search engine optimization (SEO) articles that sound like they were written by a sixth grader-who is failing English class.
At a time when the marketing value of SEO content is at all-time high, the standard or quality for the content has hit a low. Part of the problem stems from SEO companies that cheaply compensate foreign writers to produce web articles. But SEO clients are accepting those articles. Are they to blame, too?
If so, their complicity in the creation of bad content is understandable: someone is selling them on the idea that bad SEO writing can do the job, that the links it contains, and where it ranks in Google search results, is all that matters.
If a web visitor is determined to buy something, perhaps the interlude of reading, or glancing through, a web article on the way to a product page is a triviality. Most consumers do not approach online shopping with blinders on. Competing deals are everywhere, and the means sellers use to draw customers in, including web articles, impact sales.
Web articles lead consumers to take the first step in the online sales process - and that is visiting the website the article links to - and compelling content is what motivates them to take that step. Even when articles are used solely to generate web traffic, the longer they hold readers' attention, the more likely readers are to take the next step and visit the website.
You win more flies with honey than vinegar, as the old saying goes.
Should SEO Writing Be Held to Copywriting Standards?
SEO writing and copywriting have a fundamental difference: depending on how it is used, copywriting can be an end in itself, whereas SEO writing typically serves a commercial end: the sale of a product or service, or the gathering of contact information.
Because SEO writing is not viewed as an end product, online marketing gurus and their clients seem to have a high tolerance for sentences like the one below, which comes from a real article about laser cutting machines:
"Laser cutting machine processing as a new processing method, it is quietly [sic] prevalent in leather, textile and apparel industry because of its precise, fast and simple operation, high automation advantages."
Bad composition might not sabotage web content marketing from a technical standpoint (if the keywords are applied correctly, Google will index the article), but it weakens its human appeals and professional integrity. Sub par content simply isn't interesting to read; and when you compare it to good website copy, it seems like a banged up Honda sitting next to a new Acura.
Even so, some content producers might argue that raising the bar for SEO writing would result in more cost to customers, and decrease the bottom line results of SEO. However, you don't need senior copywriters to create the type of content that SEO writing should be. Instead, you need writers who are fluent in English, have some writing experience, and are willing to take pride in their work.
Hiring writers of this pedigree doesn't require a talent search or a significant increase in payroll; it requires a minimum payroll investment that can result in the SEO provider receiving more clients, and its clients receiving better results from their online content.