Website Owner or Writer: Who Should Optimize Content?

Keypad with the letters s, e, and o in bright blue for "SEO"In an ideal world, the answer is both. If a writer and a site editor can work together to make sure a piece of content is optimized for Google as well as readers, then you have double the chance that it will actually get done correctly.

Unfortunately, there are amazing editors and amazing writers who simply don’t have a grasp on SEO. Online optimization is something that you really have to study and read about in order to understand, and those just starting might not have that background knowledge.

This is where the blame game starts. If a great piece of content isn’t doing well, you have to ask yourself: was it my job to help optimize that for Google and readers?

Where the writer can help optimize content best

The truth is that there are different aspects of SEO that should be handled by different people who deal with a piece of content. In a few cases, this is the writer more so than the editor. A few of these methods include:

  • Social Media Sharing. This is just one point that has to be put on both lists. Although a writer might not have the following that a company does, this doesn’t mean that a writer shouldn’t share content to readers. Any promotion helps, and the more a writer promotes his/her content the better for not only the company, but his/her personal brand.
  • Keyphrase Strategy. Google only recommends you use a keyword where you are trying to rank in 1-2 percent of the article. Because writers are composing the article, it’s easier for them to be conscious of the keyword and make it sound natural. The keyword that I, the writer, am trying to focus on in this article is “optimize content.”
  • Link Building/PageRank. Writers need to understand the importance of link building and include relevant links within the text of the article. Writers know the content better than website owners or editors, so it is the job of the writer to understand what links are important and beneficial for the content.

If you’re a writer and you really don’t know anything about SEO, don’t sweat it. The above is more-or-less all that you need to know! It helps to gain a background understanding of SEO to help, but until then your SEO responsibilities are some that you can, well, fake. Your number one job is to write great content, and your number two job is to do a couple of the things discussed above whether you understand them or not.

Where the website owner can help optimize content best

Website owners often don’t have as much trouble as writers because they can hire someone to help, but their responsibilities are usually more involved. If you can’t hire an SEO agency who really understands optimizing content, there are a few things that your website team needs to make sure it takes care of (and doesn’t put in the hands of a writer):

  • Keyword Research. A company is the one who should complete keyword research and then hand over those keywords to the writer. Keyword research involves analyze a lot of data and understanding the industry and the different competition. A writer should focus more on the creative, and the web editor needs to focus on the analytical.
  • Social Media Sharing. And here it is again. The website must promote all content (even guest posting content). With the increased importance of Google+, how often your content gets shared can make a difference in your Google ranking.
  • SEO Plugin Information. When it comes time to actually upload an article, consider putting this in the hands of the content editor. Many websites allow writers to upload his/her own content, but not all writers completely understand the software. Whether you’re uploading the content or the writer is, it should be the job of the site owner or editor to review and double check that your SEO plugin is giving you a solid score.

It is a bit more important for a web editor to really understand optimization in case something doesn’t go as planned. You can always re-optimize a piece of content (optimize for a different keyword, improve aspects such as keyword placement, etc.), so it’s important to continually analyze click-through rates and rankings so you know what needs to be done.

Other people involved in optimizing content

As most could have suspected, there are more hands involved in optimizing content (or that could be involved) than simply just the writer and the editor. A few other positions include:

  • Website owner/CEO of the company (whether he/she has a background in SEO or not).
  • The entire website team can help share content and read for errors/confusion.
  • Realize that bloggers sometimes differ from writers.
  • PR professionals and agency workers.

Do you think there are any SEO considerations that should be put into one of the two categories? Is there another third-party that you have found helped you optimize content? Share your thoughts in the comments below.

About the Author ~ Amanda DiSilvestro

Amanda gives small business and entrepreneurs SEO advice ranging from content optimization to recovering from algorithm updates. She writes for HigherVisibility, a nationally recognized SEO firm that offers national and local SEO service to a wide range of companies across the country.  You can find Amanda on LinkedIn, Google+, and Twitter @ADiSilvestro.

image thanks to SEOPlanter

7 replies
  1. Nicole Breit says:

    Great post, and I agree! It’s important to get that clarity up front, and for freelance writers to draw those lines. When I first connect with a potential client, I send out a “rates and policies” doc making it clear that I don’t generally do keyword research (though I *can* do it for an additional fee). Do you do the same, Amanda?

  2. Amanda DiSilvestro says:

    I don’t have a formal document with my rates and policies; however I don’t think that’s a bad idea at ALL. So many things can get confusing when it comes to freelancing, and oftentimes there is nothing in writing like there is with a full-time position. Definitely a good idea, and thanks for reading!

  3. Heather Mueller says:

    Interesting that you suggest the website owner should take care of keyword research. What would you recommend when clients want a full-service solution? Would you recommend contracting out the research? I love writing with keywords but am starting to hate the research itself…and am thinking maybe I should start looking for a partner to handle that part.

  4. Amanda DiSilvestro says:

    So if I’m understanding correctly: You have clients who ask you to write articles and then link back to particular keywords and write with particular keywords for their website. Is that correct?

    If so, then yes I do generally think it should be your job as the expert to do this keyword research (unless of course the client did it him/herself and has a plan!). If you find that it is too much work for you to both write and research, then by all means, hire someone else!

    It’s also a good idea to always be watching different trends and gathering new data, so having two people on the project certainly wouldn’t hurt.

    I hope that helps, and if you meant something a little different just let me know! I’d be happy to talk with you further, just DM me on Twitter @ADiSilvestro. Thanks for reading!

  5. Manmeet Singh says:

    Thanks for sharing wonderful Post . My belief is that until and unless the Owner gives its 100% and corporate fully desired results cannot be Obtained . Its fine that Writer will doing hos job but its Owner who knows best about his trade , services or Business . So 100% efforts from both sides can only help attaining desired results.

    • Heather Lloyd-Martin says:


      Thanks for your note. You are exactly right – content writing is a collaborative effort between both parties. If one side decides to slack off or not work as hard, the entire project suffers.



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  1. […] Website owner or writer: which should optimize content? – Amanda DiSilvestro explores the question of who should optimize web content, and where the site owner or the web writer is more qualified to do SEO. […]

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