Boring is Better: SEO & SMO

Comic Boring

Illustration by Drew Flahery

When we write our bios, info tabs, blogs and Twitter posts it is easy to get caught up in exquisite verbiage and linguistic eloquence.  When alliteration rolls off your tongue and onto your keyboard, it is easy to get transfixed by the depth of a well written phrase. However, when it comes to SEO (Search Engine Optimization) and SMO (Social Media Optimization), boring is better.

I read a lot – blogs, articles, newspapers, magazines and books. When I am driving and cannot read, I listen to audio books.  Yes, I am a literary nerd.  As many other literary nerds who are also writers know, we love a good turn-of-phrase better than most.  But do you know who reads your website, Twitter posts, updates and blogs when it comes to putting you in search engines?  Well, it is no one with any literary appreciation. In fact, it is nobody. It is a bot.

The bot crawls your site, post or update and looks for keywords.  Those keywords are archived and factored into how, and where, you appear in search results.

SEO and SMO are based on the popularity of words, phrases and links.  If you want to turn up in searches, you need to make sure that you are using words that are relevant to your site or business and words that people actually use for searching.  This is where it gets boring.  You might like the phrase:

“Electrocuted Arachnids”

but that is not what people look for.  Instead write:

“Electrocuted Spiders”

I know it is hard to part with fancy phrases, however no one would search for the first one. Spiders will rule over arachnids every time.

But what about branding?

This is a tricky area.  You want people to search for you using your brand.  That is part of the goal of branding.  But you should not limit yourself to that potential search. Continue your branding but also remember to use relevant keywords. Someone might be looking for you and not yet be familiar with you.

Also keep in mind what it is you are branding. If you are posting from a social media account, it is likely that your name is already branded.  Why do you need to do more?  You are wasting valuable keyword (or hashtag) space by rebranding your post.  If someone is searching for you, they will be able to find you because of your handle. But if someone is searching for your topic, make sure you are positioning yourself to show up in the search. As they say, showing up is half the battle.

Although boring is, well, boring, it is the better way to get better SEO and SMO results.  There are always exceptions to this; if your field is saturated by something like coffee and your specialty is jellybean java, you are better off using jellybean java rather than coffee, but probably not to the exclusion of coffee.

It is important to know what keywords are relevant to you, then use those words even if they don’t turn heads for stylistic ingenuity.