Web wizards and journos

Content is king on Google and journalism is in demand.

Website owners used simply to summon an SEO wizard to help the great god Google find their site, but now it seems they need to hire a journalist too.

Marketing agencies that once failed to appreciate the distinctive skills of journalists have decided they might not be a waste of space after all.

A new specialism has emerged. It’s called Content Marketing, but that just seems a posh term for what is basically journalists writing stories for the web and social media.

This is very good news for journos looking for a fresh start and should make websites in general a lot more interesting for the rest of us, with more readable material and less hard sell.

Many site owners find it hard to make their presence visible on the world wide web. The old answer was simply pay lots of money for search engine optimisation, but so-called “black hat” SEO magic doesn’t work as well as it used to.  Some of those spammy little tricks have lost their power because Google has changed the way it searches the web.

Clearly not all the wizards have heard this, although it was announced last spring. They are still filling their sites with unnecessary repetitions and endless lists of keywords and creating dodgy links from elsewhere in the belief that these measures will increase the chance of being found by Google.

Google is now actively discouraging this approach and says  webmasters “can improve the rank of their sites by creating high-quality sites that users will want to use and share”.

The Head of Google’s Web Spam team, Matt Cutts, explains that they are trying to level the playing field to discourage “over optimization” in favour of “the people who are just making great content and trying to make a fantastic site”.

An excellent example of this is the website B2C, which recently listed Eight Reasons to Hire a Journalist in Your Marketing Department . It’s a useful piece, but it might have added a “hirer beware” warning to make sure you hire a good ‘un, because some journalists actually are a waste of space.

And here’s a word to the wise: adding a full time journalist to your payroll can be more expensive and less effective than renting successful outside consultants with a journalistic background. But then I would say that, wouldn’t I?

– GARETH WEEKES, Deep South Media.