What Lou Reed can teach you about SEO writing

I was blown away the first time I heard, “Walk On The Wild Side.”

Were the lyrics a little controversial? Sure. To my 12-year-old brain, hearing songs about hookers and junkies was a big deal.

But it wasn’t the supposed scandalous content.

It was the storytelling.

“Walk On The Wild Side” is visual. It’s gripping. It’s powerful. When I heard the opening lyrics about how “Holly came from Miami F. L. A.,” I could picture her transformation. I could see the gritty bars, plucked eyebrows and strange back-room antics.

The music transported me. I wasn’t listening to the lyrics. I was involved in the story. 

As SEO writers, we can learn a lot from Lou Reed. When we’re cranking out content, it’s easy to ignore the story and focus on the facts. We work in the right benefit statement at the right time. We write lists in bullet-point fashion because we know it’s better for readability. We put the perfect keyphrases in the perfect places.

But do we write with passion? With purpose? Do we really tell a visual story – or do we skim the surface and hope the reader will fill in the blanks?

My challenge to you – for just one day, throw out everything you know about copywriting. Tell the story instead. Don’t focus on the mechanics. Focus on how the widget has transformed a business. How a service helped save a life. Think visual rather than factual (for more information on writing more visually, check out this great post by Roger Dooley.)

(And if you’re a B2B company, don’t tell me that storytelling doesn’t work. It does.)

Got the story down? Good. Now, go back and seed it with “proper” form, keyphrases and paragraph structure.

My guess? Your writing will be more powerful. More visceral. And convert better, too.

R.I.P, Lou Reed. You may be gone, but your songs live on.

And your writing lessons do, too.

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