The Sea of SEO

Great Blue Heron, copyright Ellen Wilson

Alright Class, time for a little teaching article…

First off, I will do the reductionist thing.  If I tell you that Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is all about having your words recognized by Google, is the title of this article optimized for Google to find it?  No.  Google will look for sea and SEO, and comes up with SEO writers who write by the sea, and other such…stuff.  A better title would be SEO Defined, or How to Write SEO Articles.  Just like you would type it in Google.

The title of your articles, if you want them to be first and foremost recognized by Google is  crucial.  It is the first thing that Google bots will crawl to to find your words.  A bot, or a spider, is part of the techie lingo I won’t detail here.

Obviously, I do not do this very often with my articles.  Why?  The short answer is I don’t usually care.  And sometimes it is just down right boring.  What would I call my Writing the Wild Within Series?  Words and Animals?  How to Write Like a Jackass?  Some things are not easily defined.  But Google wants them to be.

If you have aspirations to becoming a professional and well played blogger, writing SEO is critical.  But it is really very simple – a bright 5 year old can do it.  So before a potential client asks you what you know about SEO, and you just smile brightly and say, “Everything!,” let me tell you the secrets…

SEO requires key words that Google will pick up.  Now notice the Great Blue Heron in the picture.  If I was writing for a scientific journal perhaps I would use the taxonomic for Great Blue Heron, Ardea herodias, within the body of the article usually not less then three times.  Three seems to be the magic number for SEO articles of 250-300 words in length.

But let’s face it, not many online scientific journals want SEO terminology.  Why?  Because scientific journals aren’t in the business of making money.  They are in the business of disseminating knowledge.  At least that’s what they say.

A more lucrative business is blogging for commercial profit.  Suppose you pick up a blogging job for a hotel chain.  You will add the name of the hotel in your article at least three times.  And sometimes you will be asked to imbed the name of the hotel within the article, so when you click on the link you come to the hotel and can check out a room, and etc., etc.,

What does this all have to do with Great Blue Herons?  They are used to sell terrific views at seaside hotel suites in Bahia Honda, Key West, Florida.   Everyone wants to see these birds flying around.

Which leads me to an controversial point.  Sometimes bloggers use their own voice (or make one up), instead of acting like an impartial representative selling a product.  This leads to accusations of false marketing claims, and is commonly called astroturfing in advertising or business circles.  Chris Garrett recently had an interesting article concerning this issue on his blog.

I would like to hear what you think about using your own voice (or making one up) in blogging for clients.  Is is ethical or moral?  Seth Godin says that all marketers are liars, so does it really matter anyway?

Photo Credit:  © Ellen Wilson

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6 thoughts on “The Sea of SEO”

  1. I think that blogging for clients has to be done carefully — highlight the benefits of the service without going overboard and skewing belief in that product or service. Ghostwriting has been going on for a while, and I don’t see that it’s affected the general buying public’s ability to purchase product.

    As far as ethics or morality…when you pick up the invisible pen for the client, in essence you are the client. It’s tough to tune your moral compass to someone else’s wants, even for a project, but in my experience writing for clients, there seems to be a balance between what we want, what sells, and what will it take to make the client happy.

    I prefer the “all marketers are salespeople” line, but I don’t think you have to lie in order to sell. With the right copy, it’s downright easy to close peope without telling a lie.

    Isabella Murphy’s last blog post..Online Video Killed the Anonymous Internet Star

  2. @Isabella – Thanks for your insights. I agree that there is a moral balance that needs to be maintained when writing for clients. Persuasive copy is all about showing a “product” in its most favorable light. You’re right, when you write for a client, essentially you become what the client wants. I think it is a lot like acting. I struggle with this, because sometimes it seems like an illusion.

  3. Ellen, I’ve done so much ghostwriting that I have to remember now to put my own name on my blog. I hate and have refused to write hypey, gimmicky drivel that attempts to manipulate (which is not selling by the way) consumers into buying crap. I have done a ton of SEO writing with great success but opted for natural flow rather than poorly written keyword stuffed dreck. In short, I believe in authentic marketing. Figure out the problems, paint points and preferences of your target market and clearly articulate your solutions. No amount of yellow highlighting is going to make a bad product or service a good deal.

    Karen Swim’s last blog post..Running Your Own Race

  4. Karen, you expressed how I feel about all of this beautifully! Sometimes even talking it about seems to result in more subterfuge and misunderstanding regarding what we do as writers, and SEO writing specifically.

    That is a good point you made concerning the difference between manipulation and selling. There has to be a dividing line, and I think Chris G.’s post addresses that. But there are still many gray areas inherent in the marketing mix.

    I also prefer natural flow writing, but yes, if you want to see more site traffic, professional SEO writing is the way to go. There is a technique to writing it. If written well, SEO can really FLOW!

  5. Ellen, I came hear and read this yesterday and then didn’t leave a comment
    cause…it was really all news to me!

    So instead I got distracted and went and googled myself. How enlightning! There I was all over the place! How the heck had I done that! It sure wasn’t by design!
    I didn’t even know what SEO was, and now that I do…I don’t know how I feel about it.
    To be honest, my gut reaction is ewww yuck, how manipulative. But, I don’t want to judge. I need more info.

    Thanks for turning on the lights for the newbie!

  6. Ha! Wendi Googles herself and learns about SEO! Well, now you know. Google has found you. In a good way of course.

    But sometimes we professional SEO writers try to get Google to find various things for our clients. It’s all about marketing and advertising, and yes, you have to make up your own mind on all of that. Karen addresses it all very nicely, and I would have to agree with her ethics about what to write, and what not to write. Because really, that is the question.

    We don’t have to get so down and dirty that we do things against our ethics to pay the bills.

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