SEO requires content, and it’s pretty obvious that if making content, you should be doing as many different things with it as possible. One piece of content can and should:
- Rank highly on Google
- Help your linked page rank highly on Google
- Intrigue and educate human readers
- Get human readers to do what you want them to do
Unfortunately, many of the SEO producers that I chat with around Detroit all have the same fundamental disease. We call it NOGARA — for No One Gives A Rat’s Ass. They content up a storm, and it just sits there like a dog mess on the street: stinking. I don’t claim to be the be-all and end-all of SEO content, but I think I can help with the NOGARA problem around here.
There’s a fairly limited number of reasons that people pay attention to stuff. Remember that the average American is exposed to some 3,000+ commercial messages every day — we tune it out so smoothly we never noticed that we did so. If you want people to pay attention to you, step one is stop being a commercial. No one wants to hear it.
What they do want to hear — and what they will pay attention to — are things that:
- Make them think: If you can show someone some new fact (or new angle on an existing fact) that makes them question their assumptions about your client’s industry, you have their attention. Similarly, if you can say something that everyone knows but no one knows how to say, you will get a lot of buy-in from people grateful for the right words.
- Are different from what everyone else is saying: Even if you don’t have something entirely new to say, if you can convey the information in a way that no one else is conveying it — like with a clever infographic or an off-color video — you can get a lot of mileage out of separating yourself from the crowd.
- Seem useful to them: Even if it’s not about your client’s product or service, if you have something useful to say that’s merely related to what your client does and attach your client’s name to it, you will have captured their attention and gotten your client’s name into their brain, which is half the battle.
- Displays a deep understanding of your client’s industry: This doesn’t always work — if your target audience is ‘noobs’, revealing the complex mysteries of the inner workings of the dark side of hoobidy-doos won’t do anything but confuse them. But if your industry is ‘weight loss’ and you’re targeting people who know the difference between HCG and Leptin, being able to explain why homeopathic HCG is a ripoff in technical terms can win you a lot of the right kind of attention.
- Tells them how to solve a problem: This can be hard to do without sounding commercial again, but it can be done. People always want to know what cheap, easy, and at-home things they can do to solve their problems. Tell them, and then brand the advice subtly with your client’s name.
- Tells a story: There’s a not-at-all-apocryphal tale about a woman who sold a pack of Pokémon trading cards on Ebay for over a hundred dollars. She did it by telling an amazing story that explained the circumstances behind the auction, and clearly resonated with a lot of people. This won’t work in every industry, obviously, but when it will, it’s a great way to get people to pay attention.
If you can master just a few of these arts — many of which take more research, discipline, or cleverness than most writers are willing to put in — you can inoculate your content against NOGARA forever.