May 29, 2014

How To Reinvent Your Writing


Is your writing boring? Is it missing personality?

Businesses are starting to realize that publishing online is now your best weapon of choice to rank high in Google, engage with your customers and be a thought leader in your industry. So writers are the new digital age hired guns and given instructions to crank it out. Blog posts are published, e-books are written and white papers are whipped together.

The problem is that we end up with written drivel that is so bland that I want to throw up! It has no character, is written for key search engine phrases that dominate the headline and the text. We see posts with no personality or humanity.

Just algorithmic awfulness.

Has Google created a monster?

This content creation strategy risks turning our minds to mush, our thoughts to self-harm, and even make us fall asleep at the screen. Part of the reason this is happening is that Google has rolled out changes to its algorithm that rewards fresh content with high search engine rankings. Articles are written for keyword correctness driven by the Google Webmaster tool. This can remove the human personality in the writing. Corporate content marketing tactics are now often about search engines and not about contagious writing. Search engines should be in the mix but it should not dominate.

Jeff Bullas is spot on; Google is our feudal overlord, and smaller companies are the pawns out tilling the SEO fields, praying for its eye to fall upon the fruits of their labor. Google is a fair, but harsh mistress. Each entrant into the kingdom receives his own plot of land, and (after filling out the proper paperwork) is left to his or her own devices to grow that land and make it flourish. Some have found the soil extremely fertile, and many others have seen their content wither and die without so much as a single click. And then there are the few, the one in a million that stand up Martin Luther style, and nail their 95 theses to Google’s front door. To create such a stir, those few have created something so unique, so popular, it has become impossible to ignore. They have (ever so briefly) created a revolution.

Imagine if your company had created something as viral as the music video Gangnam Style – the fist YouTube video to receive over a billion views. Can you imagine what those kinds of impressions would do for your business? What could you do with a billion new potential customers? More importantly, what couldn’t you do? We’ve all seen the potential power of content. The silly photo that becomes a meme shared millions of times across the Internet, or the hilarious commercial that’s been watched, quoted, and re-watched countless times. That type of content is what we should all attempt to create. Keywords be damned, if your content is both note worthy and sharable, the value to your site will be exponential compared to another stale, keyword optimized blog post that receives 17 views.

So what can you do? As someone who isn’t Psi, or Martin Luther for that matter, you can still focus on what your audience is craving. I did, and it worked. I write for a Louisville Rock Climbing blog, and after a few unsuccessful posts, I began to wonder why my writing wasn’t garnering any traction. The words “Louisville + rock + climbing” were present, linked, and optimized accordingly, and I was distributing my content across social platforms per the SEO playbook. No one cared. So I went back to the drawing board. There are two things every climber in Kentucky cares about, the Red River Gorge, and climbing videos. So, I wrote a post about the best climbs for every range of difficulty in the gorge and put it out there. It was linked to 2,300 times and my traffic increased 2,000%. I started sharing out my favorite climbing videos with analysis and commentary on the video, and traffic has remained consistently high for months.

Before you post again, ask yourself two simple questions: Who am I writing this for? And will they care about this? If you can define your audience and check that second box, you will get the traffic your post deserves. Remember, Google is the King, Queen, Prince, and Duke of the Internet. It’s got a lot to look after, so to get it to notice you, you had better do something that makes everyone else notice first.