SEO-image-largeJo and I talk a lot. Well I say talk, but quite often it consists of me moaning and Jo listening. In fact, Jo should probably charge me for her ‘listening time’ but I’m very thankful she doesn’t.

Now you may be wondering what it is that I moan about. The usual day-to-day stuff mostly but, until recently, there was something else quite specific on my list of bug bears; something that I like to call ‘desperate SEO’ – the inspiration behind this post.

As a freelance writer, I can obviously choose which assignments I grab by the horns and which I let slip me by. However, even when times are quiet, I still need to provide for my family and so take any work (within reason) that I can get.

It’s at times like these where I sometimes find myself at the disposal of digital marketing agencies who employ said desperate SEO practices.

The bottom line is that I strongly believe that great content really is king. Yeah, yeah, I know it’s a cliché that sounds cringeworthy but I genuinely believe it and I’ll tell you why…

But first I want to elaborate a little further on desperate SEO – something that exploits content to achieve a desired backlink outcome.

So what is this desperate SEO I’m referring to?

Well it comes in the form of carefully crafted blog posts and is used by some SEO companies to simply tick a box on their client order sheet. For example, their client may have paid for x number of backlinks on various websites that have favourable domain authorities and one way to satisfy this is through blog posts.

Now you’re probably familiar with the terms ‘white hat SEO’ and ‘black hat SEO’ – basically ethical and unethical. Desperate SEO comes with a light grey hat. It’s not necessarily bad but – and this is only my opinion – it doesn’t provide any real value for the reader.

And that’s the important thing right – providing value? After all, Google’s sole purpose with its search offering is to provide people with content that’s engaging, useful and relevant to their search.

Now I’ve got nothing against leveraging blogs to boost a brand’s coverage, but some of the posts I’ve seen (and even created in the past) provide very little in the way of value for the reader.

A typical desperate SEO brief may require that you write a post to be published on a travel blog – so far so good. But then you find out that the client you are writing the post for is a company that sells blu-ray DVD players and you have to naturally insert a link back to their website within your post.

Oh and just to make the post look even more natural, you’re asked to put a few other carefully placed links to websites that are non-competitive or in other words, don’t sell blu-ray DVD players also.

The end result is a post that lauds some of Europe’s most beautiful beaches but contains a link back to the DVD retailer. You may be wondering, how do you make that look natural? The answer is with great difficulty and as a writer, it’s a very frustrating task.

That’s why I have made a conscious effort to steer away from such practices and now only focus on creating stuff that I think provides value to the reader.

I was fortunate enough to cross paths with Jo and in-turn be introduced to Neil and Phil at Positive Sparks. The stuff I write for all of them is a breath of fresh air compared to churning out desperate SEO pieces.

Desperate SEO isn’t going to disappear overnight. But Google’s regular algorithm updates should be warning enough that creating fresh, original and high-quality content that engages your audience is the key to SEO success. Furthermore, it will boost your brand’s online presence at the same time – what could be better than that?

Screen-Shot-2014-04-15-at-14.04.26Author Bio:

James Devonshire is a freelance writer who specialises in creating content for social media, SEO and digital marketing purposes for a wide variety of businesses. With a strong knowledge of website monetisation, entrepreneurial practices and optimisation techniques, James has carved out a literary niche for himself from his adopted home in the Philippines.

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