Back in the day, when I began writing web content seriously, a common practice was for my clients to send me long lists of keywords and have me blindly write articles based on the list.
As long as I used the keywords (and any associated secondary keywords) enough times in the article, the content almost didn’t matter.
From the current internet marketing perspective, that practice sounds ludicrous. Good content marketing is all about sharing something that delights readers and brings a degree of happiness into their lives.
But that kind of “content farming” I used to do? It’s come to (rightfully) be seen as toxic and wasteful.
So why are so many content marketing agencies still doing it?
Yes, sadly many web marketing agencies still hire writers to produce “blind” content – content that’s completely separated from the context in which it will be consumed.
Here’s how those agencies work (the outdated way):
- They assemble a team of barely-competent, low-paid writers who simply want to make a few bucks while in college. (A lot of “work at home” jobs are working for these kinds of content mills.)
- They send these writers lists of keywords or general topics. The destination site is almost never sent.
- The writers produce the content as quickly as possible – and with as little research as possible – simply because they’re paid by the word.
- Content is posted to client sites.
Now compare that to my personal writing process when I work with clients:
- Research the client’s website and current content marketing strategy. (This helps me plan how my content will fit into their current marketing efforts.)
- Spend time on major blogs, websites, and forums related to my client’s industry. (This allows me to know what conversations are happening in the industry – and how I can write something that contributes to hat conversation, setting my client up as a relevant authority.
- Create an outline of what my content will include. Gather high-quality sources for all claims (such as quotes, high-quality links, and other relevant sources) and incorporate these into my outline. (This ensures what I write is authoritative and trustworthy.)
- Begin writing a draft that incorporates my outline and sources.
- Revise this draft several times.
- Turn in something worthy of posting on a top-tier website (like the Huffington Post) and that my client loves.
I don’t need to explain why my way is better.
But given how many marketing agencies still do things the outdated way, maybe I actually do?
Sure, my way is more expensive, but the results more than pay for the additional cost.