Due to the nature of our business, we are constantly collaborating with writers (including the one who’s kind enough to edit this piece). We’ve worked with writers of all types, from political speech writers to poets to traditional ad copywriters.
As a design firm, we have a tremendous appreciation for the art of writing. Outside of the technical aspects, such as grammar and spelling, writing is an incredibly difficult task. A good writer has the ability to present stories and facts, spark imagination and wonder, and bring compelling beauty into the reader's mind using nothing but words.
Lately, however, industry trends have changed the nature of writing. Many of our clients and potential clients now ask about SEO-based writing. And now the process of developing content is not necessarily about good writing, but rather the act of filling in keywords based on search engine analytics and meeting desired word counts based on SEO recommendations.
Wonderful content that was originally written to be true to a brand is suddenly transformed into unnecessarily long paragraphs filled with generic keywords. And despite what SEO experts might tell you, 500 words containing the phrase "best chocolate donuts in NYC" five times will never be compelling. Never.
It begs me to wonder: is the price of being found really that high?
From the myriad of digital projects we've handled, it becomes more apparent to us that this line of thinking needs to change. Content that is genuine and helpful breeds loyalty, while content that is written for the sake of being found breeds short-term hype.
It doesn't mean that SEO is irrelevant. There is still value in being found. But when it comes to building a long-term relationship with the customer, the ultimate value is in being genuine.
Our advice to our friends and clients is always the same. If you have to choose between being found and being genuine, always choose being genuine. Be true to yourself and your brand, and customers will not just find you—they will follow you.