Are you writing for the machines or for human beings?

I have studied SEO, search algorithms and, in particular, Google for many years. Some people write blogs just for the SEO impact. It is true that keyword rich blog content can help to drive traffic to your website. However, what is the point if the blog content is boring and doesn’t engage the reader? Google Analytics can’t measure emotional impact and how you make your website visitors feel, can it?

Some bloggers only seem to write for the machines (there is a metaphor from The Matrix here, isn’t there?) whilst others focus on human beings. I have even heard that some businesses outsource their writing requirements to third party professional copywriters. Can you just imagine?

I think that the ‘human approach’ beats the machine approach hands down. Personally, I think that the person who should be doing the thinking, idea generation and – dare I say this – the writing itself is the business owner or product manager. What if they can’t write, you might say? What a great learning opportunity, I might reply.

An example is Seth Godin, one of the world’s most successful bloggers. Whatever his strategy is, he certainly isn’t writing blog titles with optimised search phrases in mind. Here is his blog: http://sethgodin.typepad.com  Recent blog titles include: ‘Loose/tight thoughts on management’, ‘The thrill is gone’ and ‘Living with your frustrum.’ (The latter, of course, was about David Bowie). The point being that these are not phrases which anyone who is looking for the products (books, mainly) and services (public speaking) that Seth offers, would put into Google, Bing or Yahoo. Seth keeps coming up with offbeat insights and he ‘just writes’, which is something that I have advocated during my copywriting training courses for as long as I can remember.

When I am discussing copywriting and blogging during a marketing seminar or talk, one of the questions I am asked is ‘Should I give information away for free?‘  The answer is that some of your competitors are already doing so. A quick online search for any specific area of knowledge will reveal a surprising amount of the IP that so many companies are still holding so close to their corporate chests.

It is true that we are not all writers.  However, you can achieve amazing things if you get started, apply a little discipline and then forge a new habit (they say that it takes 21 days to form a new habit). What I refer to as ‘Level 1’ writing includes spelling, grammar and the ability to write fluent sentences. ‘Level 2’ writing takes a little longer: this is where the art of engagement is to be found.

You might ask yourself the question: “Am I a creative thinker?” After all, what I am suggesting would require a flow of new ideas. The answer is that creativity is hardwired into all of us. Sadly, we don’t all believe this statement. However, I found it to be true when I taught creative thinking for The Chartered Institute of Marketing for 12 years.

In summary, personally I have found that writing for people beats writing for the machines. The constraints have disappeared. I am enjoying the process, I am writing more frequently and I am writing longer blog entries…which of course is exactly what the search engines like. “Google loves a blogger” doesn’t it?

Here are some blogs which may help: Coming up with new ideas / How to generate ideas for content marketing  / Creative thinking for business and marketing

Written by marketing consultant, trainer, speaker and author Nigel Temple.
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