Whether or not you’re a resident of the lovely city of Georgetown, Texas, stop me if you’ve danced to this song before.

While using your trusty Internet device of choice to look for a plumber, the top search engine result is some robotic blog post with a headline like; For Your Georgetown, Texas Plumbing Needs Call Us – Your Number One, Most-Trusted Georgetown, Texas Plumber.

Search engine optimized beyond all reason and offering nothing that anyone wants to actually read, which begs the question: if a blog post ranks first in Google’s algorithm but nobody clicks on it, did it really ever get published at all?

Thankfully, Google folks have learned how to spot and penalize blatant keyword stuffing of websites and other digital content and have gotten closer to reliably showing us relevant information and stories that we’ll really want to read. But there’s still a dilemma for anyone in marketing when it comes to figuring out who to serve first. Is it humans with actual eyeballs we want as readers? Or do the web-crawling spiders that fuel search algorithms win out?

The simple but unsettling fact is I can spend an afternoon crafting soul-moving copy for one of my clients that hammers 18 different points in your frontal cortex and makes you jump into your car with cash in hand, just itching to make a purchase. I’ve done it for years, and I ain’t stopping anytime soon.

BUT (there’s always a “but”) all that work goes straight down the drain if what I’ve written doesn’t win the SEO sweepstakes that puts it at the top of relevant search results. It’s a dark and smelly place in the backwaters of search result pages. No business or entrepreneur wants to wind up there for very long.

So that’s the no-win situation, picking eyeballs or picking robots.

Given how massively it’s changed the world, it can be tough to believe that the Internet is only about 30 years old. This means we’re only in the second act of a real-life stage drama showing how it impacts life as we know it.

The good news is there’s some evidence pointing to a concept known as “topic clusters” as being the best marriage of human behavior around content with the raw information churning power of current search engine technology. The folks who know this stuff say that companies need to base their content around a group of core problems their customers face, or around information they’ll want to know. Those core areas serve as the pillars of a business’ content, with blog posts and other material written – in natural human syntax, mind you – about topics related to a core area.

That practice lets relevant words and phrases work their way into the copy naturally, giving the material the SEO firepower it needs while also resulting in a finished copy that human beings actually want to read.

So while the robots don’t have actual eyeballs – sorry for that disturbing visual – it may be that they’re starting to have a pulse that’ll keep our plumber friends up in Georgetown on their best behavior when it comes to their next blog post.

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