Semantic SEO: Natural Writing a Start, But Not Enough
"Write Naturally" is a Misnomer
Write naturally. You hear it over and over. I just realized something about that phrase: It reminds me very much of times I have been told "oh, just be yourself, that's all that matters." Well, bullshit. Sometimes, yes, your raw, natural self is a great fit. Sometimes, you may want to dress it up just a bit.
A long, long time ago, I began university. At that time and in that place, being in a sorority seemed like a great idea. So I went through the process of "rush." I heard again and again to "just be yourself." In a way, certainly that was true. But the unspoken part and something that transfers to our writing is this: Be yourself, yes, but you still need to know your audience.
Every morning, I would chose what to wear, my stomach in knots, my natural shyness just making my entire body tighten up and feel mildly nauseous. I'd want to wear sweats and a t-shirt but would put on a dress. Etc.
As I'd go from house to house, thoughts would flit in and out. Things like "Man, the colours in this room are hideous!" or "Are all the women in this house blond?" or "Jeeze, this 'lemon-water' tastes like shit."
And, yes, knowing my audience, I'd notice those thoughts like clouds floating in the sky, and instead say things like, "I just adore how you all seem like sisters!" or "Oh, yes, I'm a little nervous to be at such a big university, but I'm sure it will all be fine." Etc.
I made it into 'shitty-lemon-water' house. And made some great friends, had wonderful experiences, and dropped out in my last year.
Write Naturally, in a Calculated Way.
How's that for truth in marketing? After attending the latest Mozinar called "Semantic SEO" with Gianluca Fiorelli, I deeply understood that missing piece, that unsaid part of "write naturally." Sure, you must write naturally, and write for what your audience wants to hear, but that is only the first step.
It's just such an important, and often missed, first step, that I still think it needs to be pounded into many content developers:
- Learn what your audience wants.
- Give it to them, in a natural voice.
But once you have nailed that, you really must implement a consistent strategy. Gianluca's Mozinar brilliantly used Thomas Aquino, pizzaghetti, and schema.org to help drive home his points. If I can sum up what I learned, it would be:
- Know Your Audience, Write Naturally -- Yes, it's important enough to say it again.
- Use Schema.org -- "Mark up All Things"
- Use Topical Hubs to organize your site. Think micro-sites rather than overly hierarchical organization.
- Build Trust with Data Consistency (This is from a Slide Share by A-Aranged).
- Links should be natural and consistent. When considering backlinks, really home in on topically related sites that are a good, natural fit with your site.
You know, as the young woman trying to get into a sorority, I knew some bits about knowing my audience and giving my audience what they wanted, in a natural way. But once I was "on the other side" I understood more about the calculated framework we existed in.
The rules included things like never, ever looking at your watch; making sure certain women felt welcome but never appearing to give preference to them; certain words we were not allowed to use, etc. All of this structure was mostly unseen by the audience but made for a seamless experience for all of us. And, of course, it helped our "ranking" and assured that our "brand" was consistent.
Semantic SEO: For the People?
What do you think? How do you balance a calculated, rule-based framework with natural writing? Do you find this something that is worth the time and energy, or do you prefer to spend yours elsewhere? I'm intrigued by semantic SEO, and would love to know your thoughts.