You’ve built your company, and you know your customers. The next step in your agenda is to start bringing more business to your website. Everyone wants to get to the top of Google, but most people are under the impression that there’s some secret trick to it, that the write web-builder is going to know how to get you listed at the very top. Fifteen years ago, this COULD have happened. Some designers used less-than-scrupulous methods to put sites that were pretty awful as the first ones you’d see when you did a search. However, in the past few years, the big search engines like Google, Bing, and Yahoo have adapted their algorithms so that sites with better content pop up on top. That’s right, you’ll find information you can actually use! You may have experienced this and not even noticed it.
Content goes beyond being King. It’s kind of like the Aslan of all web creation (sorry for the literary reference there; if you don’t know what it means, just think of the highest muckity-muck in the universe you can think of. The Bill Gates to Microsoft, the head of the United Nations to, well, the United Nations. That kind of thing.) SEO is still important, of course, but now it needs to be worked into really great content. A good content writer will know how to pull out the information your customers are looking for, then write articles and blog posts about it in a way that reaches your target audiences. This can include using regular, conversational tones, skipping industry jargon, and so on.
One of the most common jobs I receive are proofreading those that have been outsourced to other countries where English is not the native language. This can be a huge problem… yes, the work is less expensive and certainly many countries teach English as a second language, but if you’re presenting the information to an audience that hears, speaks, and reads English on a daily basis, they’re going to spot a non-English writer. Writing speaks to a person when it’s written in a way they can understand and assimilate; those who don’t speak English natively often don’t use contractions, or try to translate a thought that is perfectly clear in their own language and culture but doesn’t come through correctly in another. The grammar can seem stilted, and reading comprehension can drop.
And this isn’t just an English thing; if I spoke and wrote Mandarin as a second language, and a customer from China came to me to write their web content in their native language, I wouldn’t take the job. No matter how well I speak it, I simply can’t write content that will be easily understood for the majority of that audience. I don’t have the background, I don’t understand the culture, and I don’t LIVE there to hear, speak, and write it everyday. I don’t know the local dialects or turns of phrase; it just wouldn’t work. People want to connect with the writer; they want to know they have a commonality in order for the message to sink in completely.
It actually costs less in the long run to simply hire a native English writer to put together a piece rather than to outsource to a non-native speaker then have a native speaker correct it. Plus, you’ll be working in roughly the same time zone (it can be a pain to have your writer at a twelve hour time difference, believe me!) Pay a few extra bucks at the beginning of the job for a native speaker, and your message will be the better for it.