Be Careful Who You Outsource Your Content To

by Nick Stamoulis November 30th, 2011 

Ask just about any SEO professional and they will tell you that great content is what drives an SEO campaign, both onsite SEO and offsite link building. Great content not only helps your site get found and ranking well in the search engines, it is also what is going to convince your target audience to act! (That's why it is so important to write for human readers and not just for search spiders, but that's a post for another day.) If you don't have the in-house talent or time to manage a strong content marketing strategy, many site owners consider outsourcing their content marketing to a third party source. There is nothing wrong with that, provided who you are outsourcing your content writing to.

Who Is Really Doing The Writing?

My SEO company handles the blog writing and content promotion for one of our clients and she recently sent me an email saying, "Really love the are doing a great job. Are you writing these or are you using a service like XXX?" I wasn't sure if I should be glad that she was happy with the content we were producing for her company or concerned that she thought we were outsourcing it. I looked into the writing service she mentioned and found one of those writer databases that site owners often turn to when they are strapped for content and can't afford to hire a professional freelance writer. I'm not saying that there aren't a few great writers to be found on such service sites, but for the most part they are buried under a mountain of amateur writers looking to make easy money for generic content. In a follow-up phone call I had with my client, I assured her that we were the ones creating all of the blog posts.

Cheap Writers = Cheap Content

I understand the lure of using a writers database like the one my client had asked about. You just plug in the topic of your choice, how many words you want and what you're willing to pay and POOF, 5 or 6 freelance writers will happily pitch you their articles. As I mentioned, its not impossible to find a great diamond in the rough article, but the odds of getting a great, well-written article that is well optimized for SEO and shareable (meaning your readers will want to share it on social networks) all for the low, low price of $25 are pretty slim. When it comes to content writing, always remember that you get what you pay for!

Be honest, how much work are you willing to put into something you're getting paid $25 for? Why would you expect that database writer to try any harder? Sure, they will probably write a blog post for you that will hit a specified word count and is on the right topic, but do you really trust them to understand the tone you are looking for? Will they know what kind of messaging strategy your company has taken and how it should be reflected in your blog post? How will they know what keywords to target and if they should incorporate links? Granted, you could give them direction every step of the way, but at that point you may as well write it yourself!

What Good Is Generic Writing?

Depending on the industry you work in, outsourcing your content to the lowest bidder could prove fatal to your brand. Think about it. If you are a doctor or a lawyer, you have years of schooling and practical education under your belt that makes you an expert. That $10 article you're getting from India isn't going to have a real value to it, and it may be flat out wrong! That writer may be able to research the basic information about tendonitis or recent changes to property laws, but that means the site owner would get a basic blog post or article. If you are just publishing generic content, how will that help your brand stand out? How does that improve your reputation as an industry authority? Who is going to care?

I am the first to tell my clients that if they aren't confident in their writing skills, that it is worth outsourcing. Content is too important to your SEO, social media and overall online marketing to be poorly executed. But before you hand your content, which is essentially your brand, off to a 3rd party vendor, make sure they have the skill and know-how to make it great.

Get a deeper understanding of outsourcing content:

Nick Stamoulis

Nick Stamoulis is the President and Founder of Brick Marketing, a full service Boston-area SEO services firm and has over 13 years of SEO experience.

Brick Marketing

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4 Responses to “Be Careful Who You Outsource Your Content To”

  1. Hi Nick

    Totally agree with your post. As a content marketing agency, we are constantly trying to educate potential clients about the importance of sourcing content from a supplier that not only has the skill base to write educational and engaging pieces but also understands the powerful relationship between high quality, original content, SEO and social. It frustrates me when I see Google ads promoting articles from just £9!

    I recently wrote a post about selecting a content partner which very much supports your argument

    Thanks for the post – I enjoyed it!


  2. Wasim Ismail says:

    Your hit the nail on the head, content is as important on your site as the design, and the overall look, as this is not just what the readers see but also what search engines see and portrays an image of your business, your character, and your ethics. I always urge my clients to take extra care on their content, and if outsourcing, give it to someone that understand Your business and its goals.

  3. John says:

    Sound advice. Sometimes, you really do get what you pay for but of course there are exceptions to everything. I think it's always important to check references, and see the type of work that person does before you start outsourcing the content. Good post.

  4. Great post, Nick! I think there are far too many marketers out there who are more concerned with getting a deal than they are putting their very best foot forward. Sure, that $5 was cheap – but how much business are you LOSING over it? And as you've pointed out, you ARE going to lose out on business if your content isn't any good (or even if it's just so-so!)

    I always recommend that people talk to their potential writers first. That way, you can see who you're dealing with, what their credentials are, what process they have to generate content (ie: do they outsource it or write it themselves?). A good writer will be willing to answer all of your questions, so that you feel comfortable about the company you're doing business with.