Writing for Man and Machine
If you’ve ever seen the first Terminator movie, then you know there’s a single theme throughout the entire movie – man vs. machine. There’s no mercy cries or second thoughts, Arnold Schwarzenegger’s one goal throughout that entire movie is to destroy Sarah Connor. But come Terminator 2 (the best Terminator film might I add) and metal-bot Arnold is now working for the humans. Mind blown.
In a lot of ways, this is how I think about SEO. We’re the cyborgs trying to interact in a human world. At the core of SEO there’s one goal – speak to the machine and get us ranking as high as we can go. We’re stuck in a 1980’s Terminator mentality. But as the digital world integrates more and more seamlessly with our daily lives, SEO marketers can no longer ignore our human side. Writing good copy means having the ability to speak to both man and machine.
Know Your Audience
The first rule in writing: know your audience. This goes for more than just SEO writers. Authors, poets, scriptwriters, comedians, and more need to know who they’re speaking to in order to write something effective. In the case of website copy, it’s two audiences. Pretty difficult, huh? The plus side however, is knowing that the machine audience will always remain constant – aside from algorithm changes of course (thanks Google). Your first challenge in web copywriting is learning the basics of SEO. This first step gives you the little bag of tricks you need to get content found.
The second audience, the human audience, is more difficult to understand. Nothing a little research can’t help. Research your audience before you even think about writing. This will help you develop the voice and feel for the content you will create.
Speak To Humans First
If there’s only one thing you learn today, let it be this – write for people first. Ultimately, people are the ones who take action and interact with your piece of content. If your SEO reads something like:
Buy this red leather couch today. Our red leather couches are the best red leather couches you will ever sit on and sitting on red leather couches is the best.
You could be speaking to the biggest red leather couch fan on the face of the planet, but fluffing your content with keywords won’t only send your customer elsewhere, it now gets penalized by Google after a certain ratio.
Feed The Machine
Got your content foundation down? Good. Now it’s time to feed the machine. Writing for man and machine means keeping things human, but where many sites fail is in appeasing the master of the Internet in charge of getting your content found – Google. Even the basics go a long way. Focus on keyword placement, headers, meta data, image tags, URL and content length and you should be pretty golden.
In this battle for both man and machine, SEO writers lead the charge. We’ve successfully proven our worth in the Internet Marketing toolbox (much to the dismay of designers) and sheltered client’s rankings during the recent Mobilegeddon. And as our world continues to evolve into a tech-saturated one, we’ll be there to serve as the peacekeepers between man and machine. Now, cue that Terminator theme track.