Content - The Elephant In The Room

According to Kris Roadruck, White Hat SEO is a joke. I’m not touching that argument.

Alright that’s a lie.

I’m touching it.

I think he’s wrong. I think ethical, ‘white hat’ SEO can deliver results with very little risk to the client. And I think that if you continually do things that the search engines tell you NOT to do, it’s going to bite you in the arse at some point down the line. Every major update Google makes is designed to penalise unethical SEOs, and you can’t keep running forever.

But that’s not what riled me up about his post.

It’s the fact that yet another SEO has decided to come out and pretend that content is at best an irrelevance, and at worst a rip-off.

And where I come from, them’s fighting words.

Content Matters.

There are three specific parts of Kris’ post that rub me up the wrong way

If you are billing your client SEO prices for writing services you are ripping them off.

Even for rantbait, that’s a pretty ridiculous claim to make. I’d go as far to say that if you’re charging your client for SEO without thinking about content, you’re ripping them off.

And that’s not a naive hope that the magic Panda will somehow reward my content writing skills, that’s something I honestly believe.

What’s the job of an SEO? Is it to improve a client’s rankings on the search engines? If you’ve just yelled “yes!” at the screen, then you need to rethink your career. Because you’re doing half a job.

In my eyes, the job of an SEO is to help a client sell their products through the search engines. If you’re page one, position one and your site doesn’t grab me, I’m not buying your products.

Because the thing about the search engines that some SEOs don’t seem to get is that customers aren’t impressed by your ranking.

You might get a click, but as long as that back button exists, they’re only two clicks away from a site that will grab them, will sell to them and will steal money out of your pocket.

So who’s really ripping the client off? The guy who’s black-hatted a paper-thin scraped and spun site into position one, or the guy who’s put something that converts into position two?

If you didn’t go to college for or otherwise study writing and literature… you are ripping them off.

Admission. Never studied copywriting. Did a module on journalism at A-Level, but none of it stuck, and everyone knows my degree’s not in writing.

If you’re using the fact you didn’t study English to avoid learning how to add a sales message to a client’s homepage, you are ripping them off. Kris is right when he suggests you ask for professional help, but if your client is hard up for cash, there’s nothing stopping you using a few entry-level copy techniques to at least make visitors look at the content.

Unless of course, you want to have that argument with a pissed-off client? You know, the one where you have to pretend a top ranking on the SERPs somehow makes up for the fact that nobody’s placing an order?

It’s easy to preach great content when you have a great subject. But no one gives a shit about non-clog toilets or pulse oximeters or single phase diode bridge rectifiers.

Of course. You see, that’s the thing about us content supporters. We don’t know what the real world’s like. Nobody can write great content about non-clog toilets. How’s that going to generate links?

Well, if certain SEOs spent less time on the rantbait and more time developing an imagination, they’d be able to generate some links for that non-clog toilet manufacturer.

Here’s two ideas for free.

A Lovely Squat Toilet

The Dark Ages...

One: Infographic – The Toilet: An Illustrated History. Sure, you’ll need to know your way around Illustrator or Photoshop, but the journey from squatting in a field to the technological marvel that is the non-clog toilet is guaranteed to pique the interest of Stumblers and Redditors. And it’s the sort of thing I’d repost on my Tumblr.

Two: Article – How about a comic “Worst Thing That Ever Happened to Me” post? 300 words on why you shouldn’t have had a prawn madras on that big date, and how a clogged U-bend torpedoed your chances of a relationship. “If only she’d had a non-clog toilet!” – and off it goes, reprinted on dozens of humour sites and blogs.



But that’s just my opinion. I don’t think White Hat SEO is a joke. But then again, SEOs that pretend content isn’t an important part of their offering don’t make me laugh either. So sorry Kris, I’m just not laughing.

UPDATE: Rand over at SEOmoz has weighed in with a brilliant defence of White Hat SEO.

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