SEO is Killing Our Creativity

Hold on one second… did I optimize that title for search engines?

Lemme open a few new tabs here and jot down my top five keywords to use in this post.

Talk amongst yourselves… I need to throw a keyword in this H1 heading I’m about to use.


I am not an SEO expert. This is evidenced by a Google search of Chris Moody that usually puts me in third place behind a DJ and the guy who beat me to (I’m stuck with a hyphen).

Blogging is starting to feel like when you had to turn in a Bibliography page before there were tools to do that for you. 67% of all plagiarism occurs because creating the Bibliography page is so boring (source: sarcasm).

If blogging starts to feel like a chore… how can we expect to churn out quality content?

Don’t close this yet, but I need to add an H2 or some anchor text now.

Search engines aren’t optimized for storytelling.

It’s all storytelling, you know. That’s what journalism is all about. – Tom Brokaw

Stories are critical.

Job decisions are made based on who tells the best story. Your GPA is better than mine, but I’m talking about Haiti and how it changed my life while you review your transcript.

Friendships are made based on who tells the best story. Think of the best storyteller you know and I bet you people gravitate towards him/her.

SEOMoz has great statistics (seriously… awesome stuff) – here are their top five on-page (keyword-specific) rankings:

  1. Keyword Use Anywhere in the Title Tag – 66% very high importance
  2. Keyword Use as the First Word(s) of the Title Tag – 63% high importance
  3. Keyword Use in the Root Domain Name – 60% high importance
  4. Keyword Use Anywhere in the H1 Headline Tag – 49% moderate importance
  5. Keyword Use in Internal Link Anchor Text – 47% moderate importance

Alright everyone! Let’s huddle up and write a kick-ass blog post and rock the socks off with our SEO!

But… follow all five rules… be engaging… be conversational… be interesting… and let’s publish three times per week! We will rule the Googles and Bings forev3r!

Storytelling beats SEO 11 times out of 10.

Storytelling reveals meaning without committing the error of defining it. – Hannah Arendt

If people read what you write and love it… they will share it. These are your “target customers” that you aim to please. If I followed every SEO trick to optimize this post, it would be like reading binary code (that is only 0s and 1s for my non-geek friends).

I know incredible SEO folks and I love them for what they do. SEO is needed to have a successful blog or website. But, storytelling has to come first. Even my analytically driven friends will agree that if I rank first on Google and my time on site is 10 seconds… that is a failure.

Think back to the writing test in high school.

If you wanted to score a solid 5 on the writing test (I will take luck any day), you have to tell a story. You need a compelling title. You need supporting points. You need a strong conclusion that rounds out the hook you started with. Please continue to write like this.

I understand that the pressures of ranking highly in search results continue to increase, but that shouldn’t be the focus. Tell great stories and find a smart SEO mind to get your stories ranking where you want them to be. Don’t think SEO first.

The universe is made of stories, not atoms. – Muriel Rukeyser

SEO minded friends: what tips do you recommend to combine storytelling with effective SEO?

Hat tip to Todd Barr (@tbarr) for the discussion that led to this post and for the title.

Photo credit: christiem