Search engine optimization (SEO) has been a primary marketing strategy for companies looking for search engine visibility, for as long as there have been search engines.
Naturally, any growth-oriented company wants and needs to be seen in the search engine, but the shift away from traditional advertising and marketing and towards SEO has led to some unfortunate, and unforeseen results. Most notably, it has led to the marketing function being led by SEO factotums instead of marketers and creatives who understand how to communicate with clients.
Those factotums see the marketing function as numbers-driven, that is, their main philosophy is that “more is better.” In trying to achieve that goal, their strategy revolved around getting as many backlinks as possible, without regard to the actual quality of the link, or the quality of the website which contained it. And worse, the articles which surrounded the links were, for the most part, an add-on. The massive amount of articles being generated and placed were thought of as nothing more than receptacles for links.
The pressing need to gain more links led to a strategy of bulk creation of low-quality articles, which has led to a vastly degraded World Wide Web full of spammy websites and spammy articles which have no value, other than to hold a hyperlink.
The SEO guys had a volume strategy, and usually that meant cutting corners on content creation, often outsourcing them to low-quality content mills who produced them for five or ten dollars each, relying on a staff of production employees who were not, in any sense of the word, writers. Most content producers at such shops are nothing more than typists.
The byproduct of this widespread strategy has been disastrous for the quality of the web, which has come to be populated with spam websites and content which has no value to readers.
We are only now starting to see a positive evolution. Although these SEO factotums are still churning out spam articles by the thousands every hour, they are getting less in return – and the search engines have advanced their algorithms to degrade, and sometimes even de-index, the spammy articles which were created only for the purpose of holding a hyperlink.
A new strategy is emerging. Fewer articles and fewer hyperlinks are part of that strategy. And while articles are still generated and they still hold hyperlinks and brand mentions, those articles are, in the case of those companies which understand real marketing, written by professional, trained, and seasoned writers and journalists. In this new model, every company – whether it is a media company or not – needs a managing editor (either on-staff or via contract). A single article, rather than taking ten minutes to produce, may take five or six hours. The difference is that is has lasting inherent value, is meant to be read by real people, and contributes substantially more to the SEO goal than the outdated volume model.