An Introductory Guide to SEO:
The Universe within a Universe
Q: What’s SEO?
A: SEO is a buzz-word (ok it’s an abbreviation) that buzzes around business, marketing, and of course, copywriting circles.
“You didn’t use SEO when you wrote your blog?!?” gasps Geoffrey, wiping his clammy forehead with a handkerchief as he slowly starts losing his…mind.
“Did you set up your website with SEO in mind?” asks Susan, trying to think of reasons why her sister’s business still isn’t ranking.
“What the flibberty-jiblets is SEO?!” cries the panicked start-up/entrepreneur desperately trying to find an elevator shaft.
I’ll start with some truth-telling…
Alright, those were made up scenarios. Except the last one.
The panicked start-up/entrepreneur is me. Before I decided to be a copywriter, if I saw someone write about SEO I’d have thought it was a misprint of SAO, the cracker biscuits I used to find in my school lunch box with butter and vegemite on top. They also make a cracking base for vanilla slice.
Then when I started hearing about it, I thought I’d need to be some kind of copywriting Dirk Gently, who solves crimes by looking at the holistic interconnectedness of all things…and I was kind of right. I’m yet to attain such wizardry in SEO, but I’ll attempt to explain it with Douglas Adamsian flair.
SEO is an important means to an end: there’s so much stuff Out There, you need to use little tricks to make sure you’re found.
So, what is SEO really, and what does it do?
Google is the god of search engines. It has mysterious ways, many of which we will never know. It uses enigmatic algorithms to pick which sites rank, and which do not. SEO is the use of tricksy tricks to make your content shiny so it stands out. Often confused with keyword-stuffing, good SEO is finding things that work in a changing and unsteady landscape.
Those tricks are using words, phrases and meta-descriptions which the Google search-bots and web crawlers will see twinkling away when someone asks a question. Bigger, loaded descriptions are better than short ones – think of it as pebbles falling through a seive. The bots scuttle over and grab the big shiny ones. They drag them out of the huge, grey, heaving seas of web content, and place them onto a smooth white beach where it’s easy for everyone to see you.
It’s best for you if they plonk your content at the populated end of the beach where all the people are, closest to the person who has asked the question. Because who can be bothered schlepping all the way down the endless coastline, trawling through increasingly obscure findings? Nobody got time for that – most people don’t look beyond the first page of search. The crabby little bots do that for every search phrase and search word we enter into Google.
And even though I was poking fun at it earlier in the piece, that, my dears, is why you do need to think about SEO. We’re in a glut of information and we don’t have time to put on our Indiana Jones hats and find the goods. Also, we can’t be bothered. We’re used to being able to find out NOW, dammit.
Q: Jennifer, are YOU an SEO expert?
A: Yeah, nah. I’m not.
And I’m not going to try and say I am. I have in spades this thing called integrity, and although I like to have fun, I’m kinda serious about it. I’m a working copywriter – learning more is something I’m scheduling in, I’d be silly not to. But for now I’ll have to settle with being a writer with cracking creative skills, serious storytelling chops, AND a very good copywriter. I’m about to start talking about why that matters. A lot.
Q: Well why do I need good copy if I’m already killing it in the SEO stakes?
A: Because although ranking is important, it’s only the first step.
A site well-ranked can have a life short-lived
If you’ve optimised the crap out of your content and are ranking well, but your copy is boring and your message gets lost, you’re going to be lonely at the top. That’s because boring copy doesn’t engage, it doesn’t persuade. If it doesn’t persuade, it sure as…shellac doesn’t sell.
If you’re thinking ‘She’s got sour grapes because she’s not an expert!’ [fume, fume, righteous indignation, dismissive eye-roll]. It’s ok. Don’t take it from me. Take it from someone who IS an expert. ‘SEO Lover’ Kate Toon’s number one tip is:
“Focus on humans first, and Google second.”
Here’s another way of phrasing that:
Good content is like good SEO
With each Google update, good content – that’s good writing – becomes more and more important. Relevant content with a clear message – yes. Using bright baubles of words, sentences with tantalising textures and sublime sounds is also very, very important. Do you want to be noticed? Then don’t be beige.
“When you have a strength, effing nail it”
That’s what one of my coaches at the gym said to me once, and it’s something I apply in other areas of my life. So, while I completely I like the cut of SEO’s jib, writing good copy is the other half of the equation. Who’s reading your well-ranked stuff if it’s boring or badly written? No one.
So let’s get real: unless you’re a writer, when you write your own copy you need to be open to the idea that it might be….well, crap. And if you’re a writer who writes their own copy, you might find it’s soooo much harder to tell your own story. That’s where I come to the fore. Because I when I write copy, it’s attention-grabbing, blurb-aliciously beautiful storytelling, bold, brave words, oh and I do humour too. If you like the sound of that – let’s talk.
Post Edit: 26 Sep 2018
In about 8 short weeks, I’ll be much more at home with The Universe within a Unverse that is SEO. Yes: I’m training for lower-jedi level SEO prowess.
#blurbology #copywriting #adelaidecopywriter #buildbetterblurbs #seowhoa