Writing Tip: Grab Google and people


Writing Tip: Grab Google and people
By Jerry Brown, APR
Public Relations Counsel

The bear stared at meThe bear stared at me. I stared back. What I did next probably saved my life. And it could save yours.

Want to know what happened next? Me, too.

Even though the bear encounter is my story, I don’t know what happens next because it didn’t really happen. I made it up to illustrate a point: If you want the rest of us to hear your story, you have to make it interesting right from the start.

In the B.G. era, the olden days Before Google, people like me (I spent 20 years committing journalism) often relied on a catchy lead to pull readers or viewers into our stories. And that was generally good enough.

We assumed they’d already found the story. We just had to hook them into reading or watching what we had to say — and then keep them reading or watching until the end.

Today, things are different. If you want your story to be heard (or read), you still have to make it interesting enough for the rest of us to care about what you have to say. But you also have to entice Google to bring your audience to your story. You can’t assume we’ll find it on our own.

The challenge is that Google and humans are enticed by different things. Google likes key words. It doesn’t care about things like human interest, drama, surprises, irony or a good joke – the kinds of things we humans tend to like a lot more than key words.

So, what’s a writer to do? Find a way to grab Google so it will bring your audience to your story and to grab your audience once Google gets them there.

The lead I opened with would have worked just fine in the olden days before Google – especially for anyone concerned about what to do if they encounter a bear during a hike in the woods.

But for Google’s benefit, I’d probably add something at the front like: How to survive a bear attack. The words “Writing Tip” in the headline are for Google spiders as well as human readers. The rest of the headline is for those of you who are human.

So, today’s writing tip: To be heard, your story has to be found. To be understood, it has to be easy to comprehend. And to be remembered, it has to be interesting.

That’s my two cents’ worth. What’s yours?

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