As an agency that writes a lot of sports content, we are part of a competitive market where many similar companies are battling to get themselves noticed. Potentially, there are some very high paying assignments and an almost endless list of suppliers who can supply regular work.
But how does an agency make themselves stand out from a very sizeable crowd?
If you were a freelance writer towards the end of the last decade then you may well have been hired to produce an article that was heavily keyword focussed. Just liberally sprinkle those phrases that were pertinent to your business and Google would embrace your copy – at least that’s what many site owners thought.
For example, perhaps you may have been asked to write an article focussing on West Ham’s summer transfers. At the start of the season, West Ham summer transfers were important as those West Ham summer transfers would shape their new campaign.
Naturally over the course of a West Ham summer, transfers would intensify but maybe those West Ham summer transfers were destined to take the club into a relegation battle.
Clearly that’s an exaggeration but many articles that appeared at the time weren’t much better. A human would quickly lose interest and after a while, Google and all the rest started penalising such practises.
Keyword stuffing may be dead but for a sports writer producing quality content, that’s good news because your services will now be in far greater demand. But remember a lesson from those darker days and don’t forget who your real audience is.
Don’t write for Google
That seems like a strange thing to say when you consider that the aim for any site owner is to get their page driven up the search engine rankings. Whether you’re an agency writing for an external hirer or producing an article for your own blog, nobody will notice your work if you’re languishing in the darkest recesses of the internet so what am I talking about?
The point is that you shouldn’t focus on those search engines when writing. When I started my career on Teletext and in the printed media, Google was many years away from its 1998 inception. There was no Internet and no search engines to second guess so the point of writing was to engage and entertain your reader.
You may not be as ancient as me but the principle remains: Write for humans first and as a bonus by-product, if your quality shines through then Google will love you at the same time.
Do break free from the herd
If your sole intention is to regurgitate the news then you will find it hard to attract a readership. Traffic is vital if you are blogging and as an agency writing for third party sites, you also need that element of originality if you are going to be rehired on a regular basis.
As an example, when Radamel Falcao signed for Manchester United and you were one of hundreds of writers commenting on the story, why should readers take in your work as opposed to that which appeared in the online sections of the national newspapers?
Instead of reporting on the transfer, this headline would have attracted more attention.
“Does Falcao’s arrival spell the end for Rooney?”
Here, you can put a different spin on the transfer and discuss whether Wayne Rooney would be forced out of Old Trafford as a result. You’ll also note that there is a deliberate question in the title and that leads on to another important point.
Start the conversation
Readers will be encouraged to return to your work and comment on it providing you can get a debate going. With the Falcao / Rooney piece you could end the article with the following words.
With Radamel Falcao in the squad, will Wayne Rooney fight for his place in the team or is it time to see if he can make an impact with an overseas club?
Try not to end the article with the words ‘What do you think?’ This could be seen as part of your writing style and isn’t subtle enough to draw comments.
Much of this comes from experience and of course, you have to possess a certain amount of natural ‘talent’ but paying attention to these points is vital for an agency to stand out from all the rest.