One of the things we take very seriously at GILL Media is our duty to represent a client’s business according to their wishes. This is one of the hard rules of our strategic search engine optimization method. Itâ€™s a challenge, too, because page content and blog posts are elements of a stream, not static artifacts. They need to be regularly expanded, updated and adapted to traffic fluctuations, ranking changes and other new conditions.
The practical upshot of this is that SEO requires constant content. The stream must flow, but not every business has the skills and time to constantly update content. For example, two substantial blog articles a month might seem simple enough, but thatâ€™s 24 per year, each of which hits target keywords through a different topic. Oh yeah: It’s got to be readable, too. This is often too much for a typical small or medium-sized business. The Web is littered with the corpses of dead blogs, written by people who thought they could keep up.
The solution is to outsource content writing like any other service, but to make it work; your provider has to do what we do: perform client-centered research. If we boil that process down to three essentials we get:
Industry Research: We learn as much as we can about the client’s industry. Our primary informant is the client himself. We assume he’s the expert in his field, and just as we’re his SEO resource, he’s our resource for his business. We find research leads based on his recommendations, follow them, and perform additional research based on target keywords and general industry terminology.
This often leads to Wikipedia but a word of warning: When you use it, examine the source article for reference strength, discussions (and controversy) and version history.
Perspective: Research isn’t all raw facts. You also need to flesh out the client’s point of view. Client opinions reach you in truncated form, without the history that took them there. Just like SEO, every industry has its schools of thought, controversies and common touchstones. We get these positions from clients and research the context they evolved in. This step is absolutely vital when you want to personalize the client’s content.
One of the funny things about Wikipedia here is that it’s often better at providing information about perspectives than facts (and in the end, perspective is all Wikipedia really is). A discussion and edit page can be far more useful than the core article content. Once you see two factions take shape in an edit war over a particular widget you uncover said widgetâ€™s conceptual landscape.
Character: Lastly, how does the client want to be viewed? Is its corporate character formal or casual? Funny or all business, all the time? We recommend that clients “let their hair down” a bit in a blog, because readers want to see the human side of a company. Ultimately, these recommendations are designed to add a bit of flavor to the clientâ€™s desired image, not change it completely.
These three factors are a decent way to understand client-centered research in general terms but the specifics (including sourcing, topic selection and working with your client) are too involved to explore in a single article. Still,Â Industry, Perspective and Character are useful landmarks when you’re writing content for any client.Â In the future, weâ€™ll shed light on these specifics.