Writing for Actual Humans
I thought I’d share a link to a blog post chock-full of great SEO-related tips for content pros. Many of these tips are not always the first things we might remember when we’re just trying to get another ebook out the door — there’s usually a bit of process, more churn than we’d like, and it can feel like a marathon just to get the piece finished and published. Even with a sophisticated launch plan and multi-faceted content strategy, sometimes in the day-to-day hubbub we might forget that rendering that print-ready PDF and publishing it online is not the final step — it’s only the beginning.
As an aside: A few years ago I couldn’t imagine that there were content professionals that don’t consider, or even don’t care, about SEO when thinking about their overall content delivery and strategy. But I’ve met many — hopefully not too many — who basically consider content to be “the new copywriting.” Once the piece is finished, their job is done. If you’re one of those people, do your career a favor and get comfy with SEO. Read some posts by Moz. Talk to your friends in digital marketing. Learn to love Google Analytics, it’s your secret weapon.
Still, I think most sophisticated content marketers know that SEO, social media, and content strategy all need to play nicely together to get the most bang out of your content buck. (It’s not cheap — in terms of real cost or time spent — to create content, after all.) But sometimes a key tenet gets lost here: We’re writing* for actual humans. Not robots, not some disembodied notion of a “customer.” A real flesh-and-blood person who is reading, or at least skimming, the thing you are creating. Is your content actually readable? Is it interesting? Is it useful? Is it worth their time?
The blog post touches on that right in tip #3:
Google is hard at work improving their user experience, which is directly impacting your content creation experience. User intent, even inferred user intent, is shifting the way websites are ranked and what results are delivered to each search at each IP. In other words, Google isn’t a dumb robot just counting keywords and comparing keyword density.
This snippet is a friendly reminder that Google’s getting smarter about unreadable keyword-bingo blog posts. If your visitors aren’t buying it, more and more Google won’t either. (Can we stop using the term “SEO Content”? Pretty please?)
So really — step back when you’re creating your content, whatever the format. Yes, we all have numbers to hit and audiences to target in business. But we have to ask ourselves the difficult questions: Would YOU read that ebook? Does that video respect your audience’s time, or is it several minutes of pointless fluff? If your prospect decides to trust you with their personal information in exchange for a gated ebook, does that ebook truly hold up its end of the deal?
If you don’t feel comfortable with the answers, your prospective reader/viewer will be even more ruthless and move on quickly. We must always provide something of value, otherwise we can’t be surprised by the lack of results.
*Writing — or video editing, or podcasting, or infographic-designing.