seinfelds urban sombrero, happy spiders and amused fish: a lesson in seo copywriting

one of the things we do at Dragon360  as part of SEO optimization is assisting website owners and copywriters on how to write for search engines.

It’s hard because often these people are wonderful writers and very knowledgeable about what they do, experts in their fields and business, but they have no idea what will appeal to the mighty search engine spider. They can produce web content for humans, but the duel and complex nature of the web leaves them confused.

for the purpose of SEO,” we say, “We write for both humans and spiders.

We can only focus on one main subject and key phrase per page. Spiders are stupid and they can only understand one idea at a time.”

Most folks understand that concept going into our search engine optimization setup, but then it comes time to provide content and the idea of a whole page with over 300 words for one topic is daunting. Frequently, we take existing copy that has been assigned to well-researched keywords and format our headers and add our tags with the agreed-upon search terms. Inevitably we have to add in, highlighted in yellow, explicit directions for the PR person or project copywriters.

Sometimes, final drafts will come in and we get three more sentences talking about blue widgets and have to shake our heads. The page is supposed to be about amusing fish. I just know the stupid spiders won’t get it.

I know it’s hard to go on and gush about a product or service especially when you are so close to it. It is like not being able to see the forest through the trees. These people know so well what they do that the belief is that everyone else in the world knows as much as they do too.

“How can I say more about a red widget? Everyone knows how to amuse fish.”

Ah, but it’s not just any red widget. It’s your red widget and if you don’t love it enough to gush, then who will?  Besides, no, not everyone who wants to amuse fish knows about red widgets and if they do, we want them to find your red widget first.  We have to make sure the spiders understand to send the people who want to amuse their fish to your site.

Yes, it’s hard. I just finished an SEO based copywriting project that was almost 30 pages about birth announcements. I ran out of different ways to say “cute” and ‘new arrival’, but even with repeating the same feel and the same or similar features, every page has original content, even a blue version versus a pink version.

it’s perfect SEO copy; keyword rich, with tags and headers, in the right order, bullet lists, and bold, specific anchor text cross-linking.

The spiders will have a field day.

But putting the spiders aside, it reads well. There is an air of excitement about each product. And while they are a lovely line of beautiful products (they sent me samples, so I know. I carried them back and forth to the office for over two weeks) they sound just divinely scrumptious when you read about them.

When I got burnt out from pumping out emotionally charged excitement over the births of unknown children, I remembered the J. Peterman character on Seinfeld.  You remember Peterman: Elaine’s wacky boss, owner of the J. Peterman catalog that read like a travel itinerary.

Sometimes, he is my muse.  J. Peterman knew it back then. It was all in the telling. I can hear him speaking in my head when I write. Elaborate, description, unraveling a story that might be simple, might be only about one subject, but never the less draws the reader in.

What if you are only trying to sell a red widget, but can speak about how the red widget amuses fish.  If many people are searching for ways to amuse fish, then they need to find their way to you and your red widgets. So you tell the story of the fish. They come for the fish, but they leave with the widget. Because you were the one who knows all about it and gave them what they were looking for. A happy fish

And the spiders are happy too.

write your SEO copy as if you were writing about Peterman’s Urban Sombrero.

“It combines the spirit of old Mexico with a little big city panache. I like to call it the Urban Sombrero”

Not just a big black hat.

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