Search engine robots, “Warning, warning! Write from the Heart!”

Smarter search robots will usher in a new era in human writing on the Internet. Writers will be found who simply write well about topics that matter to them.

Search engine robots are my audience.  As a budding blogger I have become obsessed with how to build a readership, and am learning the tricks of how to appeal to search engine robot crawlers.  If you write a good article that the robots don’t “see,” it’s the equivalent of typing up a manuscript and carefully filing in a desk drawer.

Blog writing today demands a mixture of content that someone might want to read, and setting up the mechanics to appeal to search engine robots. If the robot crawlers don’t like your article, it won’t come up in searches, and it won’t be found.  It will sit in the desk drawer.  One current strategy: You should load up your essay with “search terms,” putting them in headers and in bold.  Your title has to be straightforward and descriptive, rather than mysterious, to get the “take home news” up front.  You should advertise your writing on social media to get tweets and likes, and leave comments on other sites and associate with the top bloggers, to generate ping backs and links.

And this extremely irritating advice:  Write articles about a focused topic.  If you don’t, your site will not appeal to search engine robots, which are looking for evidence of related material.  How do the robots know?  Words and titles shared among your articles.  Even doing all this, it takes months to attract traffic.

Here’s a question for you: Would your favorite writer have structured their sentences to include keywords, added lots of bold headers, socialized to sell, avoided mysterious titles, or given a crap about what robots think? Would your favorite writer focus on a single topic or foolishly write from the heart about their sincere and varied interests?  This sort of writer might have trouble being found on the Internet, and certainly not on day one.

Blog experts already tell us, “Content is King”

The word on the street about Search Engine Optimization is that content matters.  It does, and increasingly so.  My theory:  Search engines are evolving and will get smart. Real smart. The robots are converging on the human mind’s capacity to distinguish quality.  Why?  The business of search engines companies is to serve up relevant searches to readers.  Computers are increasingly powerful and software more intelligent.  Rather than humans optimizing writing for search engines, search engines will be optimized to discover writing that appeals to the human heart.

Already the search engine robots watch humans

Humans visiting and linking to sites help search engine robots decide whether material might be good.  The robots look for older, established sites, and supposedly check how far into the future a domain is registered to evaluate commitment.  But the robots don’t fall for the old trick of loading up an article with a list of words.  They don’t fall for a site that just copies text from other sites.  They still fall for some tricks, but the search robots are getting smarter.

Smarter search robots will usher in a new era in human writing on the Internet. Writers will be found who simply write well about topics that matter to them.  Writing from the heart and the brain will be enough.  Search engines will become like human editors, able to spot talent and even cultivate it.  Robots will become the thoughtful servants of humanity, rather than the mindless masters of the digital realm. And those who write from the heart will be found by readers.  On the first day.

So those of us who are playing the game of SEO had better be careful.  Warning, warning: If you write for the current crop of search engine robots,  you may have fewer human readers tomorrow.

search engine robots shape the writing life
tendrils and technology

Note to robots: Nothing personal and I for one admire and embrace our current robot masters.

Your Writer Versus Your Editor

As a blogger you wear “two hats”: writer and editor, two roles that often fail to see eye-to-eye and the truly critical eye of the editor is best applied after the flow of the writer’s thoughts has been tapped in raw form

As a blogger you wear “two hats”: writer and editor

The writer is the font of raw ideas, the creative impulse, and the MakerThe editor is the voice of reason, the critic, and the Fixer.  Yes, the two sensibilities can be tapped in one sitting, and good writing is good editing.  But the truly critical eye of the editor is best applied after the flow of the writer’s thoughts has been tapped in raw form.

The Maker is more conversational and wordy, adding asides and stray thoughts that may distract, or may need expansion into full paragraphs. The Fixer tends to create a tighter, more compact narrative, using fewer words.  A tension sometimes arises from the tighter version’s potential loss of the spontaneity of the first flush of ideas in prolix style.

These two roles can fail to see eye-to-eye when they are different people.  But even when played by the same person, the Maker tends to want to protect the Golden Word from the Fixer.  Often well to keep these two characters separated by a day.

A tip of the space helmet to Stephen Guise whose article A Superior Writing Method inspired this essay.

Lost Your Writing Mojo?

Assignments may pay good money, offer security, keep the wolf from the door, but they just don’t hook up with the creative juice. You have lost your writing mojo.

Have you got your writing mojo working?

Sooner or later most of us get involved in writing gigs that drain our inspiration.

Assignments may pay good money, offer security, keep the wolf from the door, but they just don’t hook up with your creative juice.  You have lost your writing mojo.

Chances are you got into writing about a topic that turned you on.  People liked your writing because you had a natural drive to make that topic interesting.

Something made you a writer. It’s your job to remember what that was.

What was it that made you take the path to here? What turned you on about writing? Was it getting your byline on a feature? Was it writing your first piece that made money? Was it getting a chance to share an idea that nobody else had?

Phil Donahue once said, “If you want to be interesting, be interested.”

Readers can feel it if you aren’t into it.  You have got to believe that what you have to say is so cool, so new or so different that your reader would miss out if you didn’t tell them.  That may mean you need to dig a little deeper.  So you have to write about something that seems dull to you.  But here is the deal:  you are a writer.  It is your job to make it interesting.  You have to find the most interesting angle on the story, dig up new info, and find a compelling way of telling the story.

Look at Reader’s Digest:  I am Joe’s spleen.

Nobody gave a crap about the spleen.  The editors at Readers Digest knew that nobody would read articles like “How the Spleen Works.”  But they found a new angle for a whole series on the human body:  I Am Joe’s . . .  (fill in human organ of your choice).  THAT  got readers’ attention.  Readers wondered what it would be like to BE a spleen.  What would your job be if you were a spleen?  What challenges would you face?  What if you didn’t get along with Joe’s pancreas?  What would happen to Joe if you screwed up?

Dull topic, cool approach. That’s real writing mojo.

Lost Your Writing Mojo

Creativity demands a little effort.