Writers that could master
When did this shift happen? I’m not sure. But I do know that I don’t agree with it. In fact, I still think that
The Case Against
As we all know,
Companies have been using
For example, if I wrote a piece about the wonders of coffee made from lima beans, but my article didn’t contain either the words “coffee” or “lima beans,” how in the world would anyone find it? And conversely, if I used words like “java” and “joe” and “beverage,” people might be yet more likely to find my story, because these words might also be used in a search.
This kind of thing is just reasonable, and that’s why I’m surprised to see backlash coming from some very mainstream sources. In Forbes, for example, the author suggests that
The implication is that real marketing teams, faced with the goal of controlling the conversation, would craft some sort of viral campaign that would flood the internet like a tidal wave and overwhelm any negative content that might possibly be available. Viral, not
The Problem with Viral
On the one hand, I understand the appeal of asking a team to create a viral campaign. We’d all love to see a blog post we write or a picture we post dominate the Internet mere hours later, boosting our clients into international fame. But I just don’t think that it’s realistic to suggest that anyone can create a viral campaign on cue. There’s just too much competition.
At the moment, there are an estimated 2 million online pages of content, and there are more than 216,000 people who work in marketing on a full-time basis. Any one of these pages and any one of these marketers could hold a viral-worthy idea, but without keywords, how would you find them? It’s a bit like lightening. When it strikes, it’s amazing. But it’s difficult to tell when and where it might strike. For clients with reputation problems, asking them to bet on lightening seems disingenuous at best.
The Middle Way
For me, the best way to serve clients involves finding a balance between
Finding keywords that are applicable to the problem at hand is vital, and weaving them into headlines and subheads is likely to remain important as long as I’ll be working as a writer. Clients with reputation problems, in particular, need articles that contain the same sets of words found in the negative articles they find online. It’s a way of outshouting the haters.
But really valuable content should also both inform and entertain. It’s not enough to stuff an article full of keywords with a few connecting words like “and,” especially since the Google Hummingbird algorithm specifically penalizes content that has no intrinsic value. Quality is key.
The keywords should drive the technical aspects of the writing, but writers are still responsible for finding an angle that resonates with readers. We’re also responsible for using a writing voice that’s authentic and entertaining, so our readers will stick with us to the end of the piece and then share our words with the wider world.
That’s how things go viral, and how
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