Robots Have No Buying Power. So Write for People.

Okay, that might sound really dumb. Why am I talking about robots? And who cares about their buying power?

The robots of Sykesbot21784

Actually I’m talking about SEO, also known by the more unpleasant name of search engine optimization. Maybe you’ve heard of it. Maybe you even obsess about it. It’s a hot topic.

There are lots of tips about it on the Internet, though we’re skeptical about how well they might actually work.

And the robots?

Well that’s just one of the names the search engines use for the programs that scour the web and suck up your content and put it in big search engine databases like Google’s. They’re also referred to as crawlers and spiders.

But the point I’m making is that when you write, don’t write for these dudes, write for people. There’s all this talk about keywords and now there’s talk of SEO writers, who presumably are writers who know how to wield keywords to skyrocket your website to the top of the Google results.

I’ll be honest, a lot SEO types annoy me. Just like a lot of s0-called Social Media experts annoy me. But I just read an article on SEO by a guy named Barry Feldman in something called Social Media Today, and oddly it didn’t annoy me.

For two reasons. He wears a cool hat. He’s funny. He’s smiling. And he writes really well. Okay, maybe that’s four. Barry’s growing in my esteem by the minute.

He writes:

About 3 years ago, a client pointed out to me that my website seriously lacked SEO. He appeared to know a lot more about the subject than me (which at that time definitely wasn’t saying a lot), so I thought it best to listen. We did lunch. He talked a lot. I nodded a lot. When I was a kid, my parents made me go to this school where they spoke Hebrew. My first SEO lesson felt a bit like that.

I’ve never had a Hebrew lesson, although I was subject to some Latin as a young altar boy, but I think I get it. And although I resent Barry Feldman for being funnier than me and a better writer, I do appreciate his candor, and the lesson he provides. And the last thing I want to do is steal his whole article. He is after all what we’re all after, which is to say eyeballs on his post. Traffic. Fame. And wealth.

But just let me let him provide a last quote, and then please go read the rest where he wrote it, because it’s good, you know.

That level of ignorance didn’t set well with me.  I knew this was important stuff and the longer I allowed my head to remain buried in the sand, assuming Google would remain master of the world, the shorter I’d stay in business as a copywriter.

So I went to the bookstore. One title promised I’d master SEO in an hour a day and another claimed it’d catapult me to the top of the rankings. I bought them both. I dug into one, but didn’t dig it. I tried the other one. Same story.

You know what happens when you read books about SEO? You get overwhelmed. You get frustrated. You feel stupid. You get sleeeeeeeeeeeepy.

SEO is boring.

We both know it’s true. It’s technical and complicated and you can rack your brain all you want, but you’re never going to come up with a reason why anyone should care for such a monster.

And the secret of SEO is?

You’ll have to ask Barry who eventually tells you why you should care and what you should do about it and what he considers the big secret of SEO, before giving in and writing:

I take it all back. SEO’s not so bad. The trick is to keep it in its proper perspective. When it becomes an obsession, your work gets calculated, less credible, and less compelling.

It’s a good fun read, full of resources, and well worth abandoning our site to take a look. Just try to come back someday.

Leave a Comment

Previous post:

Next post: