Write for humans

SEO strategists are going to hate me for writing this.

December 20, 2019

The obsession people have with SEO is mind boggling. It's as if SEO is a silver bullet to make up for having an undefined audience and not knowing what they want. I've seen a lot of marketers and the work that they produce. Most of the time, I'm disappointed because it's obvious what game they are playing. They write keyword stuffed blogs with no soul and refuse to write copy that engages people on an emotional level in the hopes of pointing Google searchers to a page.

It's not that I believe all content should be that way, but in order to actually connect with someone so they convert on your page, you can't write for a search engine. Search engines operate entirely on rationale, humans invest emotionally.

As such, both creative messaging and effective SEO need to be in harmony. You can write for search engines until you're blue in the face, but a search engine is not going to have the emotional nuance as the human who will be making a buying decision. You have to trigger them beyond having all the right keywords on your site.

If I had to put my finger on specific things that focusing solely on writing for search engines fails to consider, it'd be these two things:

  1. Keywords and other elements search engines take into account are replicable. If you can do it, so can your competitors and it will not help customers make a decision because you will sound exactly the same.
  2. Writing and creating content for search engines rarely makes for anything engaging, exciting, or different. However, it's these qualities that encourage people to share what they find regardless of whether Google likes it or not.

In short, make awesome content for humans. If possible, make it search engine friendly.

More you say?

Lesson Learned No. 1: Get All the Copy

Real-life chronicles of moments that make me say "shit happens."

1.20.2020

New projects are exciting. After leaving a kickoff meeting with a client, it's impossible not to get amped about the work that is going to be created. The problem is that all the excitement propels my lizard brain to override anything strategic and necessary to ensure the project runs smoothly. This rarely happens because I have checklists and things of the like reference, but it happens.

Shit happens.

Here is the number one thing I've learned this month from a design project: get ALL the copy finalized before handing off to a designer.

Before starting, it is completely my fault as the designer if I don't ask for all the necessary materials upfront to get the project moving and on track to be seamless. With that in mind, here is why it's important to get all the copy needed for a project upfront and ready to go:

Type rules the design
Because typography is the core of all graphic communication, if the verbiage changes, so does the design. For example, developing a series of covers for a magazine is going to be seamless if all of the titles have a similar structure (say a 1-2 word headline and a 3-5 word subhead). Easy to manage.

But if the headline length varies from 2-20 words, more thought will go into the initial strategy of making all the covers uniform.

Things fall through the cracks if not packaged succinctly
Hand a designer one word doc with final copy and the transition from ugly word doc to beautiful PDF is easy. Multiple docs with Frankenstein-like parts that need to be communicated in separate emails, things are bound to go haywire. Granted, things do change. But the point is to get as close as humanly possible to final copy before handing off to a designer.

This small shift of getting finalized copy will save you weeks on your next project, guaranteed. Whether you are a designer or someone working with a designer, everyone involved in the project will be happier with getting all copy before moving into design.


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Rebels Are Honest

One of the key pillars of rebellion.

2.17.2020

The influx of social media has created a vortex of lies. Lies about how many followers you have, lies about how well your life is going, lies about the good a company does for the world, lies about how cool you are. But rebels are not like that. Rebels are honest.

What does that mean? Honesty is telling the truth regardless of how it makes you look.

This means putting aside vanity metrics in exchange for something deeper and more meaningful. It means being real when you mess up. It means giving accurate descriptions of what you could do for someone, instead of boosting your capabilities. It's having the courage to stand before the facts available and admit that things could improve. The beauty of that is that you can genuinely move forward rather than living a lie that everything is perfect.

Rebels are honest.

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