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.

Would you like to write at the speed of sound?

This blog was written entirely using voice recognition software, your speed of composition is increased dramatically by talking into a microphone and having words appear on the screen

This blog was written by my voice and speech recognition software in a matter of minutes.

Modern speech recognition software really works.

Just by speaking into a headset, you can have your “robot stenographer” type words as quickly as you can speak them. Right now I am writing these words, using NaturallySpeaking by Dragon.  I’m a little rusty at this, and I’m using the old version 10, which works fine.

You “train” NaturallySpeaking by reading sample texts aloud

The software needs to learn how you pronounce words.  It also pays attention to corrections you make by hand to how it “heard” you.  Once NaturallySpeaking has learned the sound of your voice, you can speak at a normal pace and get words on the page much much faster than typing.  In fact the real challenge is devising something interesting to write, since the software captures your words so quickly it doesn’t give you much time to think.

Composing at talking speed may get you closer to your reader, who reads about twice that fast

According to Wikipedia, “The average American adult reads prose text at 250 to 300 words per minute.”  “Audiobooks are recommended to be 150–160 words per minute, which is the range that people comfortably hear and vocalize words.”*  If you are like me, you don’t type nearly that fast!

NaturallySpeaking is remarkable for transcribing interviews.

Although it’s not really feasible to train NaturallySpeaking to understand a tape of your interview subject, it’s quite simple for you to listen along, and repeat everything your subject says.  The software is not perfect but it’s faster than transcribing the tape and a lot less work.  Highly recommended.

Get a Good Headset with Microphone

The older version of the software is pretty cheap and it’s quite simple to install and train, and you get better at using it (and it gets better at understanding you) with just a little practice.  To go with NaturallySpeaking  I purchased a very comfortable and easy to connect Logitech USB Headset which has worked flawlessly.

This is the first time I’ve tried NaturallySpeaking with WordPress, and it works like a charm.  Sure I’ll have to clean up the text a little bit, but I just wrote this entire blog in a few minutes.  I can imagine using speech recognition for “automatic writing” as a method to help overcome writer’s block.

Careful, NaturallySpeaking is quite powerful

When you learn the commands it’s possible to open programs and perform other kinds of functions using only your voice.  This “feature” can get a little tricky when the software begins switching pages and opening menus by itself!  No one believes me but it ordered some chrome parts for my spacecraft, which I had to keep and look cool.  Now I’m going to use the software to see if I can fill out some meta-tags.

Postscript:  Naturally Speaking’s propensity to access menu buttons can make it very difficult to compose a “self referential” article on WordPress or blogging features since Naturally Speaking leaps out of the writing interface and goes to commands beginning with words like “WordPress.”

* Wikipedia article “Words Per Minute” http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Words_per_minute

 

Is Technology Getting In the Way of Your Writing?

when writing tools break words stop flowing

You Can Write

But are the WordPress plugins’ “tools” and “features” and “settings” and “tags” becoming a  distraction?  Today the WordPress “admin bar” stopped showing up at the top of my blog site.  Ordinarily I can log in, write something, preview it as it appears on the site, click on the dashboard, go back in and edit.  Now I can’t do that and have no idea why.

WordPress Plugins are great.

But they don’t always get along.  And the ways they change the writing interface can become a real pain.  The HTML tab on my Add New Post interface mysteriously greyed out and stopped working awhile back.  I don’t know why.  I can still insert HTML by clicking “edit your profile” and clicking “disable the visual editor when writing.” It’s a pain.

And this latest glitch has my blog not recognizing me as an admin, so my own clicks register in Google Analytics.  Hmmm, another exciting computing problem to troubleshoot.  In the meantime, I’m not using tools, I’m repairing them.

Which plugin is causing the problem or what setting? Was there an automatic update that changed things?  Questions demanding turning things off and back on.  Fiddling.  Wasting time.

The goal of writing is to organize words to fashion a transparent window on ideas

When your reader notices the writing, he or she is not immersed in content.  The window is dirty, or it creates a distracting distortion or lensing effect, or in the worst case, your reader’s window has become opaque.

Writing tools need to be similarly unobtrusive.  If I’m looking at the little submarine window in WordPress and constantly wondering about font size or headers (which drive SEO, don’t forget about SEO).  Or thinking about anything other than communicating with my reader, the tool has become a filter or even an obstacle.

When writing tools are not easy and fun, and especially when they aren’t predictable, they discourage writing.  Is my blog going to stop working entirely?  When tools generate problems, they turn a writer into a tinker.   So today I realized that the technology that is supposed to let me share my work had generated so many idiosyncrasies that I am no longer writing.  I’m peering into a tiny box, wondering what will go wrong next, and worrying which conflicted setting is going to hijack my concentration.

Today I feel like doing a Thoreau

I want to, simplify, simplify, thoreau WordPress away, and abandon this do-it-yourself technological Rubik’s Cube.  Maybe I will buy a professional theme that comes with all the caching, and compression, and internal links, and everything else the plugins do.  I want to stop thinking about buttons and switches and think about words instead.

Postscript — Appears to have been a setting, discovered at the expense of about an hour.

Post post script:  Found a great plug-in that solved multiple problems created by other plug-ins.