No. Your copy (or text) probably reads (or is read) more easily than this copy, also known as web content or web page copy. But your web copy is not as keyword rich (web copy with many embedded keywords is known as keyword rich web copy, or web page copy) than this web copy on this web page. No, I didn’t use a web copywriter for this, although there are many good web copywriters I could have hired to write my web page copy.
Some SEOs say writing web copy is a job for an seo or an seo copywriter. If there were ever a short term opportunistic approach to web copy writing, that would be it. Sell your soul to the devil for short-term profits.
Instead, your copy should be easy to read, and engaging. It has to make a point. With impact. On the first read. But if it isn’t spammy, it won’t rank. So it has to either be spammy, or be clever. As proof positive of the state of copy writing on the web today, consider this FACT: I write a good percentage of the copy that my clients use on their web sites. Really, is that appropriate? We let the Internet re-define entire industries, labeling dinosaurs and hailing new economies. Puleeeze lets’ not re-define copywriting as what SEO copywriters tell us we need today.
I am no copywriter. I am no writer, in fact. I have been a geek my whole life. I went to technical schools and earned technical degrees. I was forced to take classes in expository writing in college, and even then those classes were basically a joke. At that time, it was shameful waste of engineering student time (or so many of us thought then). Now that I spend the majority of my time earning top ranks in search engines for my web pages and those of my clients, I look back and wish I had studied more “communications”. I value my engineering background tremendously – it serves my analytical nature, and enables me to quickly understand concepts. But if I am writing web content for others, I think something in search engine world is very, very wrong.
I recently highlighted the sad state of SEO web copy when I hyperbolically reported on “New Jersey Web Design Firm” on ThreadWatch. I had been researching some web designers and couldn’t get past the keyword spam. I honestly could not find an honest depiction of web designs firms in New Jersey via Google. I knew they existed, and eventually I found a really cool one (if there were ever a New Jersey Web Design Firm, Allie and Hans take the prize. Check it out. Click the picture to hear them sing.)
These guys poke fun at Joisey, while turning the comedy-that-is-new-jersey into a sales pitch for CyberXDesigns. Next to the flash animations and wonderful barber shop quartet rendition of “I’m from Jersey and I’m proud A Bout It” is stuff like this:
Bruce Springstein and the E Street Band. Bon Jovi. Trixter. Cyber X Designs. What do all of the above have in common? You got it! They’re all award-winning families that came out of New Jersey. Fuggedaboudit.
Consumer Reports. Abbott Laboratories. SYMS Clothing. ALTANA Pharma. Pfizer. Specialized Bicycles.What do all of these companies have in common? You got it! They trust Cyber X Designs for their valuable web and IT properties.
The first baseball game was played in Hoboken, New Jersey on Elysian Fields on June 19, 1846. New York Baseball Club defeated the Knickerbockers 23-1. How about that 23-1 spread! At Cyber X Designs, we feel we have a similar advantage over our Manhattan competition. And, we wouldn’t wear knickerbockers, even if they were all the rage at Fashion Week.
Now why didn’t I find CyberXDesigns in Google when I was searching for New Jersey Web Design Firm? They are clearly relevant, no?
Well, that hyperbolic (i.e. exaggerated ;-) example turned out to be truer than I initially thought. The spam is showing up everywhere these days. That copywriter copy is much more realistic than my “Web Design Firms in New Jersey” example. Do you write like that? Do you READ like that? Some would argue that if you don’t today, you will soon. Some garbage about attention spans and busy lives, no time to read, etc. Nonsense.
Bill Slawski is an SEO I admire. I have never met Bill, but I see references to him all the time. I admire him only for one reason: when I was 9 years into “living” in Northern New Jersey and working in and around the New York Metro area, taking New Jersey Transit between Princeton and Hoboken, meeting with Realtors and stock brokers and PHP programmers and web page design firms, Bill Slawski was relaxing on the shores of the Chesapeake doing his SEO thing. While I was sweating through a 55 minute stuck-on-the-tracks-outside-the-tunnel “New Jersey Transit Senior Moment” , I imagined Bill was searing the better side of a Maryland crab cake.
I was reading Bill’s his web site back when he offered an open invitation for SEOs to come down for what looked like a back yard BBQ. I almost went. I didn’t know anyone in SEO world, yet I almost went down. I had a brother living in Baltimore. I knew Havr d’Grace from the highway signs, and I was an avid striped bass fisherman (or at least I dreamed about it a lot on the New Jersey transit train), so of course I knew the Chesapeake.
So Bill just noted a new patent on search that offers a way to scan text and highlight “relevant” portions, based on the reader’s expressed interest. It utilizes latent semantic indexing methods, as well as other modern linguistic methods, to highlight what matters. Bill links out to a PDF article on the idea, and it sounds grand:
We are generating interactive dynamic summaries for electronic text. Previously, only statically computed summaries are offered to users. By taking ephemeral information needs via search keywords, we can dynamically highlight portions of the text for users to heed.
You know how Google highlights your search words in yellow when it shows you the cached copy? Well, that’s the “static” stuff. This new method is “dynamic” in that it uses more a priori knowledge (in this case, knowledge from your search query and your past search activity) to highlight more than just the keywords. Some suggest that we are so busy, we actually want to skip everything but that semantically relevant stuff. I say hogwash.
I say we want to read. I say we want to read the nuance, and get the gist, and enjoy the writer’s personality. We want to find ourselves within the words laid out by the author. Repackage content all you like, but it will only be good for search engines and propagandists. It’s easily spammed, so expect that as well. Readers will always seek out writers, and writers will always write for either their worst critics or readers. Writers who write for search engines? We don’t need that…we have machines for that. But then again, if we can convince the ignorant majority that they no longer need to read, if we can convince the ingorant masses to just read the highlighted parts we put before their eyes, well, let’s just say that’s a part of modern society I’d prefer not to contribute to at this time.
I doubt I will ever get down to one of Bill’s SEO By The Sea gatherings, as I righteously abandoned Northern New Jersey for the Pacific Northwest last year. this morning I dropped my son off at his sailing class, made an extra slow pass by the H-R 342 I have been eyeing, and dropped into the coffee shop were I will SEO for the first half of today. I still have my surf rods, but salmon poles are looking mighty fun with all that flex. I don’t envy Bill any more.
Hey thanks for visiting. Sign my guest book so I know you were here. Happy travels around the web, and I hope you’ll come back again some time. And if you’re ever up here along the shores of The Northwest Corner, stop in and say hello in person. I’ll fire up the barbeque, or if the weather cooperates, we can take in a sail around the San Juans. And if you ever need an SEO by the sea ….. my name is John Andrews.