Before my career turned to design and development, I nurtured my right brain far more than my left by constantly writing poetry. I love writing; more than that, I love metaphor and rhythm and clever twists of phrase and even corny-uncle puns. That’s why it’s important for me to find the right balance between findable content and content that’s beautiful.
With Google’s ever-changing algorithms and the needs of searchers on the hunt for information, it makes sense for copywriters, content strategists, and SEOs to turn their H1 and title tags into optimized, keyword-laden precursors to consumable how-to’s and top-tens. Also, when you’re writing for the web, your content must function drastically differently than a David Foster Wallace novel. Does that mean we’re all prose and no poetry?
Let’s have it both ways! We must provide informative, search-friendly, branded and witty content, and here is why:
1. Real content provides a real service to your reader.
A science geek, lately I find myself turning to lengthier online articles with nice multimedia rather than, say, Huffington Post, whose content seems to be less and less relevant to my searches, let alone my curiosity. Both sites provide web-friendly information, but I trust the more relevant site. I’m more likely to go back there, even if the content takes longer to consume.
2. Real content strengthens your brand.
While working through content for our refreshed site, we noticed that the visual and interactive brand was strong, but the content was a little too search-enginey. Looking at a piece of copy written in one of those moments of genius, and we agreed: “Wow. This is what we need.” The Insivia team started tweaking copy to reflect our brand while still being friendly to search engines. In the end, isn’t that more important than getting a bunch of visitors (or prospects), who land at your keyword-rich site but leave feeling disappointed?
3. Real content gets links.
Somewhere out there, a Panda is finding bad, stolen, or meaningless content and smacking it down. People link to stuff they like and find useful. Isn’t that enough?
So, don’t treat lists and how-to’s as a crutch to boost your rankings. Sure, make them, but make them count. Have a clever optimized title. Have fun with your copy. Use written content as possibly the most important avenue to reflect your brand and be of thorough service to your visitors. They will still come, and they’ll be even more valuable to you.
1 David Foster Wallace was a phenomenal author whose witty, sensitive writings made gratuitous use of both the footnote and hyphen.