Last week Derek Powazek ruffled a few feathers in the SEO industry with a rant, and as much as I would have like to roast on Derek, I chose to pass on sensationalizing the topic by giving it any regard on the SEO Design Solutions Blog.
However, just because I did not “embrace the opportunity”doesn’t stop our co-workers from opening a can of “you-know-what” in response…
So, with no further ado, here is our lead journalist Ms. Dayna Fields in her first SEO Design Solutions blog debut with – The SEO Darth Vader’s of the Dark Site (and no, we are NOT talking about black hat SEO)…
I work for an SEO company on the content producing side and usually I would never dare to venture into a hot button SEO topic that is as controversial as your recent post, since I don’t know as much fancy SEO jargon as my techie co-workers. But, since you mentioned my field by name, I suddenly feel a compelling call to action.
“Worse than the hackers are the competent journalists and site creators that are making legitimate content online, but get seduced by the SEO dark side into thinking they need to create content for Google instead of for their readers.”
I’m probably not telling you things that you don’t already know. But, as a young journalist, this gives me a perfect, one-time opportunity to tell off an editor (dream come true).
Plenty of talented young writers are currently working a part-time job in retail, freelancing as much as possible and watching the Chicago Sun Times file for bankruptcy. The message is loud and clear: newspapers are a no-go and freelancing sucks.
Some call me an SEO copywriter, but I take great pride in the copy that I produce and, although it’s not being published in ink or on a dead-tree version, I feel it is the perfect feed for my newspaper hunger.
Just as I would as a reporter, I write about a variety of topics, learn new things everyday and write interesting, witty tidbits of useful information that is relevant to our client’s industry. Even if no one reads my work but Google, I would say that the same amount of people is reading the newspaper. Okay, maybe that’s an exaggeration, but, sad as it is, the journalistic trend is clearly moving towards the Web.
So, instead of interviewing experts, we research experts’ blogs and Web sites. The only other things that my SEO content team is lacking are the elitist attitudes and arrogant egos of newspaper and magazine staffs (i.e. publishers, editors and journalists), which is probably what got them into this career-threatening mess in the first place.
In my opinion, gearing our writing towards an SEO format is no different than learning about the inverted pyramid. Sneaking some keywords into my writing here and there doesn’t bother me. In the words of my former editor, “If it bothers you, get over it. Because your competitors already have.” We’re simply doing what is necessary to stay competitive in the Internet-journalism game.
We’re no worse than those high-end, luxury magazines that feature minimal content and multiple Bentley dealership ads. And the publishers who decide only to mail these “special publications” to zip codes whose average household income is greater than $300,000.
And I’m not “dumbing down” my content, as you suggested, much lower than the standard fifth grade reading level, which they now say is the preference of the average Internet reader.
To conclude, just because my content ends up on the Internet and pleases Google in particular ways, doesn’t mean I don’t put considerable effort into my writing. “Seduced by the SEO dark side?” It’s more like being forced to think quickly and creatively in an unprecedented situation where the entire being of journalism is on the rocks.
You’re stupid if you don’t learn as much about the Internet as possible, tweak your writing to fit what the job market demands and be thankful for the opportunity to be a writer that makes a decent living.
Furthermore, as this journalism game increasingly migrates towards the Web, we SEO writers are going to be at the top of the game, with the best hand to play and the most chips to bet.
As a final note, yes, there are scam-artist SEO companies out there, just like there are scam-artist bloggers who write product reviews about products that the manufacturer sent them for free. And I feel no more ashamed to ‘sell out’ to SEO than I would if I had sold out to a degree in advertising or PR.
There are SEO companies that don’t outsource to third world countries and, instead, offer jobs to legit writers (like myself) looking for work. I do believe that anyone promising overnight results can be deemed as “SEO jerkwads”– so eloquently put. There’s no such thing as a ‘quick fix’.
But that’s why some companies only take contracts in six month to one year increments. Natural and fair SEO takes time, dedication and commitment. Luckily, you don’t have to do it yourself. That’s why good SEO companies exist.
I suggest a new strategy, R2. Let the Wookie win.
The SEO Darth Vaders of the Dark Side.