Years ago, search engine optimization was centered on tricky little tactics aimed at cheating algorithms for short-term results. These days, most every company has gotten into gear, thanks to punishing algo updates meant to freeze out black hat strategies. Google wants nothing but quality content on the first few pages of its search results, and most marketing specialists are turning to content specialists for magazine-quality material. That said, according to our in-house SEO copywriter, many are still trying to get by with cut-rate content.

"It amazes me that so many of these Internet marketers still rely on Craigslist and writer mills for their content needs," says Ryan Lawrence, a premium SEO copywriter who specializes in crafting articles that make both Google and search engine optimization companies happy. "Google is making it clear that it wants quality content and nothing else; yet so many companies refuse to listen."

According to Lawrence, a cut-rate copywriter ends up costing companies in the long-run, with many producing repurposed content filled with all sorts of grammatical errors. The low-quality articles don't attract links and could possibly lead sites to get lumped in with content farms, which ultimately could result in plummeting rankings.

"Obviously, I have a personal stake in convincing Internet marketers to pay more for quality content," he said. "However, I usually don't have to say much. I only work with people who get it. If someone asks me to write jagged, grammatically incorrect content for ridiculously low prices; I politely send them on their way. In the long run, these search engine optimization firms aren't going to last, and they certainly won't be able to compete with some of my other clients who completely understand where online marketing is headed and what Google is trying to do."

Lawrence suggests that recent algorithm updates, such as Panda, are clear indicators that Google wants original, well-crafted content that would meet the standards of a print publication.

"In my opinion, if an article isn't good enough to appear on Google News, it shouldn't be published anywhere on the web," he said. "People just don't realize that Google has clearly explained what it wants by revealing its standards for its news operation. I think SEO companies should see that Google is going to reward all content that adheres to these standards, whether it's featured in the news section or not. I write a lot of Google news articles for several clients, and I always use the same standards when I'm writing ordinary blog posts and static pages. If it's what Google wants, then you'd better do it."

According to Lawrence, it doesn't matter if sites are hunting for social media links or just seeding for link juice, they must invest in quality content. Still, he says many search engine optimization companies remain resistant.

"Every penny an Internet marketing company spends on an SEO copywriter is tax-deductible," he said. "So it makes no sense to skimp. In the end, I don't care if you're making a press release, a 250-word blog post or just using article marketing strategies to juice your backlinks; you'd better be crafting well-written content that provides readers with valuable information. Why? Because Google has made it clear that this is what it wants. I'd say, if your cheap, shoddily-made article appearing on page one might make Google look bad, you'd better rethink your marketing strategies."