The Most Important SEO Skill

    April 19, 2007

Lee Odden posted an interesting poll today asking the question what type of SEO skill is most important. I think the best answer to the question really is the ability to gain expertise in a variety of the skills Lee listed. Lee himself says the best answer to the question should probably start with “It depends on the situation.” Still I voted for one and thought I’d share some thoughts on why I voted the way I did here.

First here’s the list Lee created:

  • Account management
  • Blackhat skillzBlog marketing
  • Coding
  • Copywriting
  • Creative and design
  • Keyword analysis
  • Marketing strategy
  • Media and link buying
  • Online PR for SEO
  • Online research and search
  • Sales process consulting
  • Server side issues
  • Social media for SEO
  • Traditional link building
  • Web analytics

You could easily make a good argument for at least half of these, but my own choice was copywriting. Perhaps had I looked at the poll a day later or earlier I might have chosen something else, but copywriting would still be high on my list and it was my choice earlier today when I came across the poll.

Why did I make that choice? Again my real answer is that being able to master as many of these as you can is the most important skill. But the choice in copywriting is due to where I think seo has been and where it’s going. Search engines don’t give on-page seo the same weight they once did, but being able to write a page with search engines in mind is still important. I’ll even argue that in less competitive markets it might be all you need to rank well, at least until your competition catches up with you.

More importantly is where I see seo heading. Link data is still going to have the most weight and impact for awhile, but having good copy is becoming even more important in regards to building links. There’s so much out there you need to stand out if you want links. When it comes to link building through social media having excellent copywriting skills is a big plus.

Search engines are also making it clear that they are looking at user behavior and traffic patterns more and in time those sites that are the stickiest, that retain new visitors longer and bring back repeat visitors more often will gain rank. In addition to search engines, social media is becoming the starting point for many and having quality copy is only going to lead to more votes and more visibility in social media.

For me it comes down to the idea of content is king not so much for the direct ranking benefit of on-page factors, but rather that content is what brings links and visitors into your site. Content is also what will keep them there longer and bring them back. And while content doesn’t have to be the written word, most of the time it will be.

I see copywriters as being the most valuable resource of any online business in the near future if that isn’t already the case now. It could be argued that unless you have a site coded to meet minimum standards or if your design is so poor no one will get to your copy. You could argue that without an understanding of marketing strategy and who your target customer is your copy may miss the mark completely. You could argue that without the proper keyword analysis you’ll be bringing the wrong visitors into your site. All of these are excellent arguments and as I said at the start you could easily build a case for any of them and more from the list.

Still I think your content is the backbone of your site. If the quality is there people will find you and tell others about you. They will put up with a site that’s not too attractive or has occasional hiccups displaying. People will link to valuable content no matter how it’s packaged and they’ll return for more.

I’m curious what you think. Is copywriting as important as I’m making it out here? Or do you think one of the other skills surpasses it in importance? Can you build a case for one of the other items on the list? Feel free to vote on the poll and also share your thoughts here.