Friday, September 7, 2007

Keeping Control of My Website Content

I had an interesting request from a client a while back: to post the keyword articles I was writing for him on my website, in my samples section, with a link back to their company. Usually, I have no problem at all with this and am happy to do it. This request was unusual, however, because the client wanted it worked into the contract. Payment was due after I sent him a link to the place where I’d posted.

I’m a little skeptical of arrangements where I’m compelled to post things on my site. Especially where keyword articles are involved. The problem with keyword articles is that sometimes the keywords or key phrase used can sound a little awkward. From my understanding of good SEO principles, your keywords should be integrated into your copy as naturally as possible, and key phrases should be broken up rather than repeated endlessly. But keyword writing can still clash with good writing practice, especially since good writing means varying the words you use. Even with good, natural keyword integration, the article may not be the best it could be.

Usually, I include keywords at client request, integrating them as naturally as possible. But sometimes an article would be better, theoretically, without a reference to “North Carolina Chevy dealerships”—especially if the article itself is on another topic. This happens sometimes, especially with clients who have multiple websites and are trying to link between unrelated sites. For example, I just wrote a series of articles for a client’s dog training site, and he wanted anchor text for links to his site on wedding favors worked in. So I had to figure out how to work references to wedding favors into articles about how to potty-train your puppy. How’s that for awkward?

Whatever works for the client works for the client. But when I’m showcasing my own writing, my priorities are different. The idea is to make myself look as good as possible, and sometimes keyword articles don’t serve that purpose. For an article like the one above, I’d probably have to edit out the wedding favors references to make them good samples of my writing. And when it’s worked into your contract as a condition of payment, changing the anchor text can be tricky. The client may want that anchor text there—in fact, he may have wanted you to post that article for the sole purpose of that anchor text. If he doesn’t like how I display my samples on my own site, I might not get paid.

So I’m usually happy to put samples on my sites and link back to the client. But I like to choose the anchor text, and I like to be able to edit if necessary. It’s my website, after all. And it’s my business.

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