Mr. Spock’s guide to out-of-this-world SEO copywriting

Hi, my name is Heather, and I’m an old-school Trekkie (“Hi, Heather!”).

When I was little, I would religiously watch the original Star Trek. In fact, my world stopped when I heard the theme song’s familiar “do do doooo” opening notes. From the first “space, the final frontier” to the end credits, the show mesmerized me. I had Star Trek earrings. I wrote book reports on Star Trek books. Heck, I even had a Tribble.

And I loved Spock.

While returning home from SMX East, I realized how many of Spock’s famous quotes could apply to writing kick-butt SEO copy. Although Leonard Nimoy officially “retired” Mr. Spock in 2010,  I’m sure he’d appreciate how his Vulcan alter-ego wisdom is still relevant today.

For your enjoyment, here’s some of my favorite Mr. Spock quotes – and how they relate to SEO copywriting:

“Computers make excellent and efficient servants, but I have no wish to serve under them.”

Are you asking yourself “What would Google want” every time you write a page? If so, you’re asking the wrong question. Yes, it’s important to write Google-rific content and follow SEO copywriting best practices. At the same time, writing content that “serves Google” and doing things just for higher rankings will bite you in the butt (hello, Panda update.) Focus on writing content for humans instead.

“Insufficient facts always invite danger.”

If you’re making your living in SEO, it’s crucial to know your search engine “stuff” inside and out. Too many companies have gotten burned because someone thinks a fact is correct (say, following some sort of mythical keyword density percentage) – when in fact, it would qualify as an “insufficient fact.” Today, there are many ways to get your SEO facts on so you know exactly what you’re talking about. Attend a conference (may I say that SMX East was killer? Wow!) Take a class (MarketMotive has some great classes around Internet marketing.) Get Certified in SEO copywriting techniques. Better knowledge = better rankings and conversions. Who wouldn’t want that?

“It is curious how often you humans manage to obtain that which you do not want.”

It’s sad when I see a company with an untargeted SEO copywriting campaign. Instead of building out content that’s laser-focused around a customer persona, some companies write (and do) whatever comes to mind and hope that something “sticks.” The result? A whole lot of wheel-spinning and very little ROI – in short, nothing that the company wants. Take the time to build a customer persona, create content that answers questions and focus your efforts around things that meet your marketing goals. Otherwise, you’re spending a whole lot of time (and effort) on something your prospects don’t want – and, by extension, neither do you.

“What you want is irrelevant, what you have chosen is at hand.”

There are a lot of things to “want” in online marketing. Better rankings. More conversions. Super-loyal newsletter readers. What’s more important to ask is – what are you doing to make things happen? If you’re building out so-so content because you “don’t have time” to do more, you’ve made a choice. When you’ve decided to “not include content on your site, because you want people to call and ask questions,” you’ve made a choice. The solution? Push your ego out of the way and align what you want with what you know works. The, you’re making a smart choice for your campaign (and your customers, too!).

“Change is the essential process of all existence.”

I’ve talked with folks who haven’t changed their methodology since around 2008. That scares the bejeesus out of me. Sure, it’s important to know how to do something really, really well – but techniques (and marketing platforms) that are hot now may not be hot a year from now. The world of online marketing – and SEO/social – is constantly changing, and new opportunities are cropping up every few months.  If you haven’t embraced a “new” form of online marketing (say, Twitter or video or Tumblr,) now is the time. Otherwise, you’re going to get left in the algorithmic dust and your clients’ site will suffer.

May your content live long and prosper!