Great content starts with research

Why high quality content is so important to your SEO

Once upon a time…

…arguably, like humans ourselves and the parts of the world we can lay claim to having created; the internet was a kind of easier place. In its very being both alien and robotic, we had preconceived ideas about the way it worked, and in its infancy, we could program these ideas in its memory.

High quality fibre optics

Endless fibre optic content of cyberspace

Search engines, those newly born sponges they were at the time, were easy to fool with the ‘art’ of SEO. Back then, it was hardly an art; stuffing keywords into content, which was barely legible and certainly not entertaining, but it didn’t really matter. No-one read it anyway, apart from the machines. Which we’d created.

In many ways SEO was a game: the quicker content was released, the more swollen with target phrases, words and repetition, the easier it was to win. We were writing for robots and we were winning. But remember; the internet itself was a robot: a mysterious collection of wires that somehow connected us to parts of the world we’d only read about in books.

A cold, alien space many of us could not comprehend; like all new landscapes a terra incognita, a myth.

With the passing of time, we created social networks, and established digital marketing, optimised branding and organic results. We’ve turned the internet from a frigid hinterland into a fresh and friendlier place. Google rolled out responses, which have levered the cumulative effect of ridding that barren landscape, dominated by machines; of the manipulative practices of game players. Like our closest friends, Google is intuitive to our search wants and needs.

The internet evolved to be less alien and, rather like R2D2 from Star Wars once was and Jibo, the friendly robot, today; it has won its place in our hearts and as part of the family. Along with this has come brand friendliness too. So SEO, naturally, has matured into a friendlier, more human orientated art form.  Creating and maintaining friendships, relationships and trust by aligning content with your audience’s intentions. And being in it for the long haul.

Ultimately, what this means is that success can only be merited when you try to achieve your goals through meeting your clients’ needs. And herein lies the ancient art form of storytelling. Better know, in trendier circles as #contentmarketing. Like all good robots, Google wants to mimic its masters. It does this by tracing your online behaviours and using the gathered data to create a kind of customer prototype.

SEO is a game

If content is king, then research is queen

Your branding needs identity. Your identity must reflect that of a typical member of your audience. If content is king (and these days, it really is), then research is queen. By creating an ideal customer, you can build an idea of where they hang out, which channels of communication they use and what their daily obstacles are. And how your content can help them overcome them.

Just as you do in a real friendship, understanding this prototype, this ideal buyer; their desires, their needs, their questions; and supplying gripping, well researched and high value content will create meaningful relationships.

Just as robots are a serendipitous by-product of evolution, an anthropomorphic creation; the ramifications of this process are that you will naturally build up the keywords and phrases that improve your organic search ranking.

Insomniac rain: Why Gabo’s death keeps me alive

It was, of course, with heavy heart that I learned this weekend of the death of an amazing novelist. I first noticed Marquez’s work in my teenage years with thanks to the line “‘Scuse me mam for bein’ so rude; feels like a hundred years of solitude” on the Levellers’ self titled album. I had begun to write my own naive and florid form of magic realism, without really knowing what it was. Luckily, this became more refined later.

Having lived a life of teenage drug abuse and mental illness, writing was often my escape but more in the form of a self-counselling diary. It was something I used to order my thoughts but I’d lost confidence that any of it could be considered good.

For me One Hundred Years of Solitude was quite life changing in its style. We shared a birthday: Gabriel and I. But along with the likes of Ernesto Guevara and Frida Kahlo, Garcia Marquez inspired my visit to Latin America and subsequently, my late entrance to University to study creative writing and begin my convoluted journey to writing today.

Uncovering a desire that had always been there, his ‘insomniac rain’ was as much an influence within my poetics as the windswept words of Basil Bunting or the ‘rosy fingers’ of dawn that transformed Dylan Thomas’ sky.

Later, in Japan, I usually worked 2 jobs, having only one day a week off. It offered an opportunity to visit Saitama; a province just north of Tokyo. Preparing myself for a few hours of train journey, I selected Memories of my Melancholy Whores as my accompaniment, notably for its size. Reading the novella took the exact time of my train journey there and back. Like Yukio Mishima and Haruki Murukami, whose work I was reading much of at the time; Marquez’s writing conflated dreams and reality: a concept I find fascinating within life and art. It’s not his best piece of work, but perhaps his most honest.

It was following reading this short and indulgent work that I learned more about the man Gabriel Garcia Marquez. Having started life as a copywriter and journalist, his writing always invokes emotion and offers hope.

I’ve recently vowed to get back into writing for pleasure. And so to salute ‘Gabo’, I’ve dusted off his books and hope his death will inspire my magic realism renaissance.