Take a look at this clip of music journalist Chris Wiengarten at the recent 140 Conference. He believes that SEO (Search Engine Optimization) is killing decent music journalism. His main two points being that journalists are afraid to say a record sucks because The Google prefers positive copy and that timing is more important than quality. The race to be the first person to say ‘At the LCD Soundsystem gig, James Murphy looks cool, if a little podgy’ is now deemed, again, by Google and other SEO bots more important than a well thought out critique of the show three days later.
Then I read a snappy little headline about the snappy little headlines that get passed along on Facebook the most. Get this, posts that are positive are 30% more likely to be shared. And those with a sexual overtone are 90% more likely. In terms of the ‘quality’ of writing it seems that headlines written at a second-grade reading level are also the most likely to be shared. I’m English, I have no idea what that actually means but I’m guessing its not Shakespeare or Salinger.
Combine those two points and it would be easy to conclude that SEO is killing good writing. That if we want to get noticed we should dumb down. But actually I think it’s the opposite.
Recently I was talking to a friend about the Terry Tate Office Linebacker work that Reebok did a LONG time ago. It was still as fresh as a daisy to me though. Why? Because it had some great lines. My personal favorite being, ‘That ain’t new baby!’ Take a look.
And the recent Old Spice ‘I’m on a horse’ spot has racked up 10m views on YouTube already. Introducing a phrase into the common vernacular is marketing gold dust. We had some success with our Doghouse work for JCPenney and to an extent, within a niche, the Fruit by the Foot spot – take a look at the YouTube comments.
So in a world where everyone is trying to be positive and short and sweet (and a little sexy) and rack up those google hits – those same, competing, google hits I’m thinking it pays to be different. It pays to be goofy, kooky, off, weird, strange and all those other words that so give research panels the heebie jeebies.
James Cooper is SVP/Interactive Creative Director at Saatchi & Saatchi New York