It’s a frequent question, even from companies interested in hiring me for emerging tech PR communications. If you’re a smart communicator you want to attract more quality folks to your website, but should you hire an agency to write content for you? “Ef” no! That doesn’t mean agencies don’t have their place, however.
Does More Content Matter?
We’ve been told more content and longer articles lead to better search ranking, and while this was true in the past, it’s also one reason you see so much garbage content. When looking up “how to make bread” Google’s top organic offering is an essay on someone’s life experience with bread or the history of flour. It’s stupid. You hate it, I hate it.
You can see why companies hire an agency to write content. Creating all of this long-winded stuff can exhaust even a large marketing team. And, truthfully it has worked. That’s why this crap content is ranked #1. Just like that loud-mouthed jerk at work, endless hollow talk gets the most attention. (Book publishers do this too, they actually have minimum word requirements on authors because people will pay more money for thicker books.) Fortunately, times are changing.
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More Content < Quality Content
Based on my own research, successful content campaigns for clients, BIG Google snippet wins, unseating bigger players, and deep analytics data, the day of quantity trouncing quality is soon to be over. Google and other search engines are starting to reward quality, well-written content instead of assigning a positive ranking for verbose pontification.
Although we can’t be sure how they do it, in my research Google rewards a ranking-bump for writing style, clarity, sentence structure, how often a piece is shared, and even if you use original photography or images.
Truthfully, this is why a decision to hire an agency to write content for you, might actually backfire in an unexpected way.
Don’t hire an agency to write content. Here’s why.
Because search engines are beginning to reward quality content, hiring an agency to write for you will fail to achieve the organic goals you have set for one key reason: Your agency isn’t the expert—You are. If an agency can truly write better content than the experts at your company, you have larger organization problems.
Hiring an agency to write content will only result in sub-par, keyword-stuffed, fluffy crap. The added expense only results in more internet junk that no one will ever see or click on. But what if it does rank well? And what if someone actually does click on it? Like that stupid bread article, what if long-winded junk posts continue to do well?
Even if a potential customer, prospect, or future client sees it, it will backfire. Prospects aren’t going to be swayed by agency writing fluff. Again, if you are successful at ranking in search engines, and your web visitors go up, it still doesn’t matter if your content doesn’t engage people or fulfill their search objective. They just move on. (But hey, at least your agency can point to how many hits they got you… which it turns out might even be fake anyway.)
Although agencies can’t write great content for you, that doesn’t mean they can’t be a major asset however.
The Value an Agency CAN Provide
Agencies, marketing partners, writers, etc. do have value, helping you with your content strategy. While you should rarely hire an agency to write content, they can be a big ally in editing, directing, and helping you strategize.
They can guide your SEO habits, help you assess if your ideas have value, and help you organize and cultivate great ideas from your team, providing valuable resources.
It’s obviously a balance. The way I do this for clients is to have them write a 2-sentence summary, mini-outline, and who the article is for. They expand to a rough draft, we review together, and I help them with a final edit. The secret to turning a non-writer into a writer is to give them permission to write sh*t. I often find geniuses let the actual art of writing hold back their big brains.
Smarties record their ideas, and agencies or writers/editors can actually write. This is a perfect balance and the best way to convert new prospect relationships.