When I first started dabbling in SEO I did so from a journalistic point of view. Let me take you back a decade or so to explain. I was working for a company called Campbells Commercial Vehicle Marketing Group, a fresh faced, spotty youth straight out of uni.
Campbells’ carried out marketing, mainly for multinational businesses selling vans and trucks as well as accessories for those kind of vehicles. They marketed in a very traditional manner, mainly direct marketing, data marketing, market research through a call centre. Not long after I arrived they decided to launch a monthly trade magazine and before you knew it I was a full time marketer and a part time trade journalist. Getting a van every week full of fuel and being sent to vehicle press launches was pretty amazing.
So what’s a magazine about vans got to do with SEO? During this period I was developing my marketing skillset as much as I could, I started to notice that the press releases and articles I wrote started to rank in the search engines, what’s more I started to see that the links I created in these articles helped the other websites ranks. That was how it all began, as with many thing in life I fell from one area into the next but seeing it had legs I went for it. All these years later I am still working my socks off to promote people online from a marketing point of view.
The interesting thing about this is that I feel as though SEO is coming in a full circle for me. I’m beginning to think that in the future the SEOs that will really be able to make a diffierence for their clients are the ones that have really good journalistic authority, the ones that create articles that people want to read, yes they may promote the odd client in them, however a lot of the articles they write won’t be written solely to promote a client – they will actually contribute something to the topic they are writing about.
Just as journalists are doing now, SEOs will turn more and more to social media sources for the up to the minute topics in which they can talk about.
Will SEO Agencies Become Publishing Houses?
Google is trying to get us all to move away from the poor content sites the seo community has been using for far too long, getting away from the poor quality linking practices that unfortunately still go on in our industry, but how can an seo agency promote the great content they are going to create now they can’t use things like blog networks, press release websites, article syndicators. I think the example is simple, as well as regressive. I believe we are going to see the growth of publishing houses from the seo industry, each seo agency will develop their own magazine/newspaper sites to write a about very specific topics, they will have a group of in house content writers to develop content on behalf of their clients that is unique and on topic of the site it’s being posted on, journalistically/editorially significant enough to warrant being included in the Google index and which in turn will be shared on social networks and which will actually pass weight back to the client websites.
Not every agency out there will have the stomach to do it. This model will require a lot of development from an agency to progress from agency to publisher, they will have to create lots of different sites on lots of different topics, they will need content writing on them by an editor – you’d probably require a couple of hundred magazine/newspaper type sites in order to do it effectively. I roughly worked out that one person could probably look after around 5 – 7 clients which in itself would mean there would have to be an increase in the cost of SEO in general to compensate for being able to handle fewer clients.
How important is the Journalist Persona?
All the posts that I write on GrowTraffic feature my rel=”author” tag – this lets Google know who I am and what I’m about. It is also an indication that this article is being written by someone who (vaguely maybe) knows what he’s talking about and it’s not just written by an anonymous person in Outer Mongolia who has no reputation to be damanged if he puts out junk content.
My persona gives Google an idea that this can be ranked. It also raises an interesting problem for those seo types who want to carry out some of the darker side of things. Namely it would be pretty obvious to Google that a person is creating a ton of content out there and just creating it to get links back to clients – they could then quite easily just discount the links out from any article with that author’s author tag. So do the more duplicitous of us out there start to develop multiple personas? This means creating several signals about a made up person or group of people – pen names almost. I’ve already heard of people offering this service, so I know people think it is going to be an important part of SEO in the future.
How SEO and Journalism are Related
SEO and journalism are all about words, I believe you’ve got to love words to be able to be an effective SEO and you’ve got to really love playing with words to be a journalist. Technical SEOs have had their day on the whole because all the new sites being built out there are built with the highest standards of SEO in mind, there are still some clever things you can do however if the basics are in place anyone with a basic understanding of how SEO works can go into the code or content management system of most sites and do their worst.
Certainly from my position and based on the way my career has meandered as marketing methodology has changed through the last decade, it feels as though we are coming full circle, that SEO and journalism are once again back in parallel to each other and the more changes Google makes, whether that be the de-indexing of the blog networks, the roll out of the Panda updates or the Penguin update I can only see them becoming ever more closely linked in the future.