We’ve been writing a lot about writing lately, and for a good reason. In the brave new world of content-first SEO, the ability to reliably and effectively produce unique, quality copy is becoming a valuable commodity. This can be dangerous for many marketers though, because “quality” is a subjective thing…or at least in was in the past. Today, every smart Digital Marketing Company knows that quality is defined by Google, and most half-measures will no longer suffice.
Today, I specifically wanted to talk about the dangers involved with outsourcing your content creation. Most businesses would never outsource their homepage to a firm overseas, but they don’t think twice about outsourcing their blogs, landing pages, and other ancillary marketing material that helps to truly define an image. Really, it’s hard to blame them, because until recently, you could get away with it. Google was pretty good at finding out whether or not content was “unique”, but they were a lot less talented at discovering if there was a consistent voice or fundamental grasp of the language. Especially because (give credit where credit is due) a lot of the writers overseas did a heck of a job with English.
The problem a lot of businesses are having now is the same problem that always seems to come up: Google got better. As the Panda algorithm progresses, Google is better than ever at filtering out duplicate content and poorly-written content. Believe it or not, repeated spelling and grammar mistakes will hurt you, and so will inorganic word choice. No matter how well an overseas firm knows English, there is something to be said for cultural perspective. Writers from different countries simply have different ways of phrasing things, they have different idioms and expressions. If you’ve read enough articles online, you’ve probably come across writing that was technically sound, but still felt foreign. When an American company’s copy feels foreign, it makes the company seem disingenuous. Is that the image you want for your business?
With the most recent updates, the main danger with writing from overseas seems to be the duplicate content. The writers there, partially in an effort to shore up their English, will pull information from a myriad of sources and spin it together. This will also happen anytime you have someone writing for you who doesn’t know your industry. They have to do research to complete the job, and the documents they read while researching inevitably leak into their writing. So what you get isn’t strictly a copy, but it’s not wholly original either, and Google is starting to sniff this out.
Am I overestimating Google a little? Probably, but experience has shown it’s not safe to underestimate them. If you’re outsourcing content, look long and hard why. If it’s because you don’t think you’re a good writer, think again. You don’t have to be stellar, you just have to be clear and knowledgable, which pretty much everyone should be able to pull off in their own industry of expertise. If it’s because you don’t have the time to do it yourself, you may want to look at hiring a content creation company in the U.S. There are plenty of Companies (cough Wikimotive cough) in the U.S. who offer affordable, reliable writing, guaranteed to be done by native speakers of American English. If you don’t have the time or the money, well, you may find your site in some trouble. Do yourself a favor and set aside a small amount of time (yours or an employee’s) to review all the content you receive from the fine folks overseas. Don’t just skim it and forget it (all too common), actually go over it like a line-editor and make it as presentable as it can be.
The point of this post isn’t to rag on the workers overseas, we have nothing but respect for them. Personally, we couldn’t write a single word in Devanagari (we even had to look up Devanagari). We also aren’t trying to shame companies that outsource their writing (Wikimotive dabbled in the early days, but we were so young).
The point is that the times they are a-changing, and in a world where content is king, it should be kept as close to the kingdom as possible.