Who should write your web site – a writer who understands your audience or an SEO professional who understands Google?
The answer is the former, with a bit of the latter. And never the other way around.
I’ve been writing a web site for a client who is obsessed with Google. All they want is for Google to find their web site and wants every 3rd word on the page to be their business name. Which, as a marketing strategy, is okay but my question is always, ‘what happens when someone finds your page? Do they then want to do business with you or do they click the back button because your web site doesn’t make sense?’
Writing your web site should be like a conversation. You are pitching your business or service to a new customer and you could be replicating the same sales processes you use in the real world.
This was illustrated beautifully by a column I read on the Flying Solo web site a while back, where the author was describing SEO-driven websites in terms of the way they’d talk if they were people you met at a networking function:
“Ever met a website that introduced itself like this? ‘Hi, I’m a plumber in Sydney. As a plumber in Sydney I like to do plumbing…in Sydney. Plumbing in Sydney is fun, so who wouldn’t want to be a plumber in Sydney?”
What would you do if someone pitched themselves to you that way in a networking function? I know what I’d do. I’d fake a coughing fit and head for the door. Or claim I no longer spoke English. Or shout ‘fire!’
That’s how your web site comes across if you concentrate on SEO at the expense of actually communicating with people. Only the coughing fit is the back button and once people have clicked that, they never come back.
And this also shows why you need a writer and not someone who is essentially skilled at data organisation.