Why you should never think an algorithm is your audience

A lot of writing on the Web is geared toward earning high search engine rankings. That’s understandable, but what happens when people actually read it?

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Yet as communicators, in recent years, we have drifted. Our emphasis has shifted away from people and instead focused on the computer algorithms created by search engines. We write website copy over-burdened with search terms, and we worry more about keyword density than meaning and message. We write copy of a length and depth that we think pleases Google, rather than what our readers want. And we endure seemingly endless meetings trying to divine what terms prospects will plug in to search boxes, in addition to spending millions of dollars trying to drive people to our sites. This has evolved into a problem.

Believe me: We are all in the same boat. I still cringe, thinking about the keyword-dense copy I had on my site until fairly recently. “As a Miami public relations firm meeting the needs of Miami businesses with a Miami public relations solution…” What the hell was I thinking? Well, I wasn’t writing for people; I was writing for an algorithm at the behest of an SEO expert. (In retrospect, it’s even worse, because I consider myself a professional communicator. That copy was crap.)

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