I lead a Digital Marketing 101 Facebook group where I interact with web content writers and marketing managers, answering questions about digital marketing strategies and platforms. This article is from a recent discussion in that group. For the sake of privacy, I’ve removed all names but my own.
Professional Web Copywriter
I find keeping up with SEO trends and best practices (as it relates to copy) to be my biggest, most consistent challenge.
Marcia Hylton, Digital Marketing Consultant
Thanks for commenting. In general, [tweet_dis]SEO “best practices” haven’t changed much throughout the years. But their implementation can sometimes be very challenging because of the many changes in digital marketing channels and platforms[/tweet_dis] – which is what I think you might have meant. Please correct me if I misunderstood. And if you can, maybe share a particular example.
Professional Web Copywriter
You’re right; the basics haven’t changed much. But keeping track of how all the social media platforms play into rankings (or don’t), how a site’s back-end impacts searchability and rankings, etc. That seems like it could be a degree program in and of itself.
Marcia Hylton, Digital Marketing Consultant
You are spot on! I think that [tweet_dis]controlling for how social media (and upcoming digital/new media platforms) play into SEO is likely always going to be a challenge.[/tweet_dis]
No Perfect SEO
[tweet_dis]The good news is that you don’t have to get it all right. SEO doesn’t have to be perfect.[/tweet_dis] The other good news is that you don’t always have to get it right the first time especially when working with new platforms. Sometimes it’s best to let a few early adopters set the tone through trial and error then take lessons from their results.
Check Many Boxes
But here’s what you can do. [tweet_dis]You want to check as many SEO “best practices” boxes as possible.[/tweet_dis] You are correct that the site’s own platform/backend can have a significant impact on rankings. And I’m glad you brought that up because many business owners, marketing executives, and even some SEO specialists ignore this.
The Chasm: A Disconcerting Disconnect
[tweet_dis]Too often there is a disconnect between the people who build a websites back-end (techies/developers) and the individuals who manage the front end (copywriters, SEO specialists).[/tweet_dis] And then there are designers and UX experts somewhere in the middle.
Each has their focus, but sometimes they are each trying to do their part in such a “by the book” way that they miss the big picture. In their efforts, they believe that it is their part that matters most or that it is only their part that matters. In truth, all of these pieces matter but it hurts the business if each is so concerned about meeting an ideal that they lose sight of the big picture.
You know how I know? I’ve been guilty of all of the above. I’ve been a part of all three of these groups at various points throughout my career. I was initially trained as a techie (a developer with usability and web writing as my secondary area of training). And about four years into my career, I was given the responsibility to manage web servers. Then a few years later, I was moved into marketing teams to plan and lead digital marketing. So I’ve been fortunate enough to see how each section of this pie operates.
SEO At Birth
But let me get back on point. [tweet_dis]SEO should begin at site conception. It’s important to get all participants on board during the planning phase of a website project.[/tweet_dis] For example, if a site was created in a way that the code is not optimized (the HTML, CSS, PHP, etc.), then the site will very likely have a delayed load time. And the longer the load time, the greater this negatively impacts SEO. If a site is running on old code or is on an old server or database (it’s PHP version or its SQL version, etc.), this too will cause slow performance and slow server response time.
[tweet_dis]A site’s speed is just one of hundreds of factors that impact the “SEO quality” or the optimization level of a website, but it’s an important one.[/tweet_dis] There are plenty of tools available to help determine how well your site speed is performing. Another example, if the images on the site are too weighty, they can slow a site’s load time. Google will penalize a site for some performance issues, and this affects the site’s search engine rankings.
How I’ll Help
But [tweet_dis]as copywriters and content creators, there are quite a few steps you can take to influence SEO results.[/tweet_dis] Check back again in the coming weeks. I will work on a blog post with this intro and include some recommendations of things you may be able to do. I will add some suggestions on ways you can communicate to company leadership about what you can control versus what you can not. But also educate them on how they can help you help them. And lastly, I will include information about tools you can use to test results before and after your work is completed to see its impacts. These recommendations would be particularly useful if company leaders gave heed to some of the information you share about making a few of those back-end tweaks.
You Have Influence: Use It!
It’s been my experience that when you work inside the company, you sometimes aren’t perceived as an expert as much as when you come from outside. So [tweet_dis]if you are a vendor, use your outside influence as an opportunity to share your expertise and make just a few broader recommendations. But do so diplomatically[/tweet_dis] and only after you have a well-established relationship, and you’ve earned their respect and trust.
As promised, I’ll work on another blog post in the coming week and post a link. Hopefully, it will be helpful to someone here.
Along with her Cornell University digital marketing training and certification, Marcia has over ten years of experience leading corporate digital marketing and another decade of experience running a digital marketing agency.
Marcia trains corporate teams both in the U.S. and internationally. In her training, Marcia shares the how and why of using digital marketing platforms and strategies to attract target audience and improve digital marketing results.
Marcia is also a podcast host and former contributor for a top business program (The Price of Business) syndicated on both CBS and Bloomberg radio.
From 1987 to 1991, Marcia was an active duty member of the United States Air Force. She received an honorable discharge before going on to earn a Bachelor of Science in computer systems engineering. Her minor studies were in user experience and technical writing for digital platforms.
Marcia has served on various business committees including the digital marketing committee for the Houston-area Better Business Bureau from 2012 to 2014. Marcia is a professional member of SHRM, as well as a member of Rotary International and both the McAllen and South Padre Island Chambers of Commerce.
In 2016, Marcia founded Up Your Digital IQ which is based out of the south Texas area (Rio Grande Valley: Brownsville, Harlingen, McAllen, South Padre Island, Port Isabel, Los Fresnos.)