Creative vs. SEO

Creative. SEO. Interesting. Technical.

Nuance makes language interesting. The trouble with nuance is it doesn't translate to the computer world very well. Which of the following headlines seems more interesting? (The story is from the New York Times)

  • Bound by Love and Disability, and Keeping a Vow Until the End
  • Woman with Cerebral Palsy Passes Away; Husband with Cerebral Palsy Lives On

The first headline draws you in, makes you want to learn what the vow was. The piece is a great story, though it will likely bring tears to your eyes. The second headline is more SEO friendly. An even better headline for SEO purposes would be Couple With Cerebral Palsy.

And therein lies the rub. "Write for people, not search engines." If you write for people and forget search engines, your content is not likely to be found. Would anyone have learned about this great story if it was on an unknown blog and not the New York Times? Not likely.

So we in the SEO world get tricky. We try to find ways to let the computer know what the content is about while still maintaining the interest of a human reader. In a way this violates the first rule of communication: know your audience. With SEO copy there are always at least two audiences-one human, one computer-and the language for each is very different.

So how do we marry creativity and SEO?

The answer is having an overall optimized content strategy as part of your marketing campaign. It's not just about keywords, it's about human interest. Good SEO will help you be found. Great SEO ensures you remain interesting at the same time.

Every piece of content should serve a purpose, but that purpose does not always have to be SEO. Consider having some content that is just for human interest. Show that your brand can be engaging. Let your creative juices flow, then see if you can tweak for SEO without losing the interest. It may take quite a bit longer for each piece of content you create, but on the Internet that content will live a very long life. (One of my early sites)