Most search engine optimization (SEO) agencies are now accepted as an integral part of their customers' wider marketing strategy -- and that's because it's increasingly obvious that SEO underpins every other online promotional tool.
In fact, my recent post "How to achieve excellence in joined-up marketing" showed how SEO can work with many other marketing tools in order to make marketing spend work even harder.
Despite this, some SEOs just don't get it. I was chatting to a young, bright, up-and-coming SEO at a conference recently about the strategy he was employing to boost an already-popular website.
He explained that he was writing some "keyword-heavy guides" for the site's pages, which interested me because he had no copywriting experience.
"Oh, it doesn't matter about the quality," he explained. "For this content, Google is the only customer."
Google is Never the Only Customer
Now, this guy isn't an employee at my company, so he didn't have to sit through the usual lecture I roll out at this point.
Suffice to say, in our industry, Google is never the only customer because it's humans who search, humans who visit the pages after they have been crawled by the spiders, and humans who use the content on those pages to form opinions on the company that supplied it.
It isn't impossible to create articles, guides, news stories, blog posts, and landing pages that are both useful to people and attractive to search engines. You just need skilled, informed writers with a firm grasp of SEO principles.
Google is Evolving
The most successful search engine in the world is so successful because it gives people want they want -- and they don't want keyword-stuffed garbage.
Yes, your website content needs to include relevant search terms because you need to show Google and other search engines that your page is relevant to the customer.
However, Google wants to give people useful information. Google's engineers are constantly working to refine its algorithm to make sure that's what it does.
If you want to future-proof your SEO strategy, you'll make sure your pages are useful and not just "optimized" by having a bunch of keywords crowbarred in.
You Risk Damaging Your Brand
There's a real danger that having poor quality copy on your website damages your brand in the eyes of any humans who stumble across it.
Your website is the equivalent to your shop front, your office reception, even your staff's attire in client meetings -- it's how customers form opinions of your brand.
Poor quality, keyword-stuffed, useless content lowers your brand's value in the eyes of the customer. The customer is the only customer -- not the search engine that brought them there.
Poor Copy Won't Convert
Whatever your website's purpose, poor quality content won't help you achieve it.
Whether you're trying to garner support for a cause, enhance brand engagement, or simply sell a service or product, your content needs to promote that end.
You can't have some copy on the site that you hope humans won't read. Those searchers who do land on it will quickly leave your site -- often with a lower opinion of your company than before.
You Won't Get Any Link Love
A low-quality, keyword-crammed guide on your site might attract the attention of the search engine spiders, but it won't get any humans particularly excited.
However, a well-written, informative industry guide could easily be tweeted, shared, and linked to. That encourages natural traffic and aids your website's optimization, so it's a double win.
Why bother with useless, brand-damaging, short-term copy when a little extra effort could bring you all these benefits?