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These headlines are too clever for Google.

Can you be too clever for Google?

I recently wrote a guest blog post for the Creatives Roundtable (which will be live in a few weeks, so patience Young Jedi). As she always does, the woman who runs the group (my amazing friend Nancy) sends it to her SEO person to provide suggestions on how to optimize the content. After all, what's the point of writing a post that no one can find? (Well, more on that in a second.) Her SEO guru came back with some suggestions and one of them was initially off-putting but actually thrilling upon further reflection.

Google doesn't understand "swipe right"

Now, I beg to differ. In the world of dating, Google sure as sh%t should know what a swipe right is. But I digress. She made a comment that my proliferation of subheads in the article were too clever for Google to find. This post just so happens to use online dating as a way to talk about listening to your audience. So, in an effort to be authentic, I wanted to use all the dating app lingo. And at the end of the day, why write something people will find if they won't actually read it?

Robots won't be stealing my job anytime soon

For all the talk about the importance of SEO, I always remind my clients that getting people to your content is only part of the battle. Getting them to read and engage with it is the battle you need to win. Getting found doesn't help you if your message doesn't deliver. Traffic for the sake of traffic never did anyone any good (see LA and NYC roads for proof). In fact, in an era of genuine engagement, it's about quality over quantity. You don't need everyone to come to your page, just the right everyones.

Less isn't more, it's more effective

As we strive for connection, humor is a main way to do that. And if Google doesn't understand humor, well then, I've got job security for life. In fact, I have a client that uses AI-technology to engage its audience via text. You know who writes that copy? (hint, hint)

Real people can tell the difference between real messaging. They can tell if a sentence is auto-generated or if someone took the time to think about how that sentence would land. And, whether that sentence would cause the desired response. A robot doesn't care how you respond. It probably doesn't care if you respond. That's why spending time on what you say is so much more important than retrofitting search terms.

SEO ain't all bad

I'm not saying to throw SEO out with the bathwater. Of course we want our messages to be found. Of course we want to attract potential clients who are looking for the very thing we offer. And doing that does entail sharing content that they'll look for. It just doesn't need to be every sentence.

Imagine how this very newsletter might look if I used search terms for each subhead.

For example:

Can you be too clever for Google? might be

Creating article headlines that aren't too clever on Google.

Google doesn't understand "swipe right" might be

Does the Google algorithm understand dating app lingo?

Robots won't be stealing my job anytime soon might be

How to ensure job security in the age of AI

You get the picture. All of those are fine, but they're boring. And not compelling. And they don't do anything to distinguish this content from hundreds of other articles out there.

Jane, stop this crazy thing

I prefer to live in a world where I get emails telling me I'm the subhead Queen (really), or that they loved a reference I made. Those aren't for everyone, just the right everyones. And if each time I write a post, someone emails me how something resonated with them, I'll take that over "getting found" any day of the week, and twice on Sunday.

So, if you need help being too clever for Google...

Sometimes you get noticed

Thrive Insider is highlighting the stories of women entrepreneurs for their October issue. Guess who got included?


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