The Ancient Art of Gardening

Or How to Write an SEO Article

With so many articles out there describing how to get to the top of the SERPs, you all probably know by now just how to stick it to your competition. However, with every Tom, Dick and Poindexter cranking out SEO articles, the quality of the optimization self-help industry has suffered a bit. This is a guide to aspiring gurus who can’t seem to get the knack to write their own revenue-generating marketing-hype, disguised as helpful SEO tips.

Step 1: Till the Soil

Before you can convince webmasters of your guru status, you must strip away their illusions of competence. Remind them that meta tags aren’t a “magic solution”. Persuade them that on-page optimization isn’t all it’s cracked up to be. Insert your comments on the importance of inbound links, randomized anchor text, Pagerank, authority sites, the Google sandbox, or any other buzzwords currently making the rounds in your favorite blogs and forums. The point here is to confuse your readers and make them unsure of their own theories. This will leave you with fertile ground for your own seeds of SEO wisdom.

Step 2: Sow Your Seeds

Now that you have eliminated your readers’ previous assumptions, it is time to go against the conventional wisdom. Everybody else has it all wrong! Whether you go with the “links are everything!” approach, “keyword density is the key!” school, or even the “meta tags secrets” method, the important thing is to jump unreservedly into your technique. A single-minded approach is required here — keep to your own technique and do not deviate. Your technique is the one which will get your readers great rankings. At this point, your audience is grateful to you for ridding them of their illusions and happy to have your theories fill the vacuum. You are selling a product and/or service; otherwise you wouldn’t be writing an SEO article. It is time to present your “SEO widget” to your readers as the “magic bean” which will rocket their website to the top of the SERPs like a kudzu vine on Miracle Grow.

Step 3: Water and Fertilize

No SEO article is complete without examples and customer testimonials. Just as steer manure is used in gardening, your article must contain a liberal amount of bullsh!t. Do not stint on the over-the-top and unsolicited testimonials. When writing — er, collecting — testimonials, always make sure to use a full name and location of the testimonial’s author, as it gives it extra credence. If you can bribe some of your SEO professional colleagues into giving testimonials, so much the better! Examples of top search engine placement should never mention the exact keyphrase. Use “red widgets” or “example keyphrase”. Overuse of testimonials and examples is almost impossible. If you have too many in one area, scatter them about in sidebars or quote boxes. Objective testimonials and factual examples are the true nutrients of SEO marketing copy. Use them well and your article will bring you fruits for years to come.

Step 4: Remove Weeds and Garden Pests

It is time to reiterate that your service and/or product is the only method by which the reader can obtain SERP greatness. The old standby techniques of on-page optimization, reciprocal linking, meta tags, linking networks, blog-spamming, etc. (pick your favorites) are all accounted for in the latest search engine algorithms. Your brand-new, patented, and still-secret-to-the-engines method is the only path to ensure search engine greatness.

Step 5: Stop and Smell the Roses

What? You haven’t yet mentioned your product and/or service’s extensive list of benefits and features? What are you waiting for? Take a moment to note all of the great things that will happen once the reader becomes your customer. Wax on about the money you have generated for your clients using your methods. Bulleted lists of benefits are nice, especially if you can really go on and on. If you have testimonials mentioning positive dollar amounts, insert them here. Next, spell out the various features of your SEO widget. It slices, it dices, it’s able to leap entire sandboxes in a single bound! Go ahead and get carried away — this is one of the first things a really serious potential customer will scroll down to.

Step 6: Reap What You Have Sown

The most important part of any SEO article is the close. It’s time to present your offer. Make sure your SEO widget has a snappy name, a cool URL or maybe a fake picture of a software box with a swooshlike logo. Also, it is important that you have at least one “free” bonus worth more than $19.95. Perhaps access to your “platinum level” forums or “limited edition pro-version”. Make your offer time-sensitive… if your call to action expires the day after tomorrow, your chances of getting a sale today are better.

Step 7: Ok the gardening metaphor stinks. “The P.S.”

Every successful direct mail piece, and for that matter every successful sales piece in history has had at least one “P.S.” The post script is an extremely important marketing trick that restates the offer and gets in an extra call to action. When scanning a page, the average reader looks at the first paragraph, glances at the middle, and reads the end. Your post script is your last chance to sell to your readers. Take it!

Like many SEOrs out there, I have read hundreds (perhaps thousands) of sales pieces disguised as helpful hints and tips. Hopefully, some of the writing-challenged aspiring SEO gurus will take this humble submission and use it to help themselves create informative articles designed to enlighten us all and at the same time, line their pocketbooks. Next time you run into your favorite guru, remember how challenging it can be to broadcast the features and benefits of SEO widgets and have some pity for your local neighborhood SEO.

(This has been a reprint of an article originally published April 12, 2005. Wow, I didn’t realize this blog was so old!)

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