I was conducting research for some projects yesterday when I realized that most of the search results that I was getting were not helping me at all.
Either the headline itself was misleading, or article was actually on the topic — but the content was too broad and the article contained no new information.
The articles that I was finding through the search engine were just like this packing box — they looked like they might have something good inside, but when you opened the package all you found inside was foam.
After a while, I started to recognize which sites were not helpful and I started to avoid opening articles from those sites.
(Isn’t this the exact opposite of how we want people to react to our content?)
Now, I realize that some of the search results were probably from individuals or organizations who paid to have their sites listed at the top of the search engine results. Still, I believe that some of the results were organic to the search engine.
Why? Because, in the end, a search engine can’t really make the distinction between whether an article is useful or just appears to be useful. It takes a human to really make that distinction accurately.
The experience really hit home to me, because as a writer I know that it’s very possible to focus on creating just the right headline, just the right formatting, and just the right number of catchy phrases — and totally forget to focus on the topic at hand.
(I know that I’ve published posts on the importance of headlines and formatting myself. I still believe that they do have some importance, but they should never be the main focus of our efforts.)
My husband and I have a phrase for things that look nice, but have no real value – “All form and no function.”
I believe that, as writers, we have the responsibility to make sure that our content is as useful as it appears to be.
Today, I’m challenging myself (and you) to write content that has both form and function.
Will you take me up on the challenge?
Contents (c) Copyright 2008, Laura Spencer. All rights reserved