Black hat vs. Good copywriting

In recent discussions at the ad agency, we've looked at the irritating trend whereby zero-content shlub sites still rank high by employing a number of black hat techniques to fool the search engines into thinking they're legit. Certain of these tactics can get sites banned from Google, but the well-trained Internet research eye often still has to scan through a number of no-hit listings on page one of results. Great news for the webmasters who hope massive misdirected traffic will gain ad click-throughs and income for them, but frustrating for all the rest of us who expect genuine, useful information when we search.

Google and others continue to evolve in an effort to weed out the all-form-no-function sites and bring only true content to the fore. But in the meantime, businesses can still get razzle-dazzled by SEO lingo and the promise of "massive" (why do shameless promoters always use that word, massive?) traffic.

What real businesses really need to know is that digital acrobatics aimed only at raising your ranking are ultimately a waste of time, the equivalent of a happy hour that brings the traffic by but results in no long-term commitment or interest from your genuine audience.

What can replace hidden text and false-front pages that boost rankings temporarily, then? Same thing you've heard from the early days of Internet commerce: content is king. Caveat: content has to talk to the search engines, too. Useful, helpful, interesting, amusing or in any other way repeat-hit/return visitor content, AND writing that comes with an intelligent approach to SEO.

That is, the most beautiful, literary, intriguing or engaging words still have to land in front of the people who want to read them. For this, the search engines are your friend. You want them to help the right people find you -- and to that end, you do have to incorporate SEO tricks, yet not to the extent of alienating either the audience or the search engines themselves.

That's where a good copywriter / web team comes in. A solid partnership between the writer, who can incorporate the right language, phrases and words, and a content integrator who sets it all up in a search-engine-friendly way make for a win-win.

As a writer, I want to tell the story as it needs to be told, and I want the story to go out to the right people with the intended effect. That's my job. When I work with good designers/content integrators, like Cary Silberman, Corey Smith, Dave Simon, Josias Goodwin, Carter Jankowski or James Lear's team, the results speak for themselves.