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Storytelling – Panda’s Secret SEO Implication

When Google’s brilliant engineer Navneet Panda figured out how to make their “machine learning” go faster, much faster, SEO changed forever.The math always wins and now, thanks to Panda, Google’s math always wins faster. I got asked a great question during our Wednesday night Internet Marketing Meetup. “What are the implications of Panda,” asked a real estate investor.

Google’s Panda algorithm updates, they’ve been happening for about a year, change everything, but there is one LARGE and IN CHARGE implication – CONTENT IS KING. Content’s being king is not a new Google message. I barnstormed the country with a tent, a box and a bullhorn preaching content, content, content in 2003. Be careful what you wish for (or preach). Now everyone knows many of my SEO secrets (not all). Content is getting crowded fast.

Luckily great storytelling is an art, an art not just anyone can do (yet). I heard my engineer/VC father once say, “I’ve made my living because I can write.” The same may be true for his son too. The Atlantic BT management team got a chance to see art of the tell at our Thursday management team lunch when former Gallo President Don Lockwood stopped by to share inspirational stories. Capturing Don’s ability to weave fable-like lessons into seamless engaging narrative is something every Internet marketer needs to be able to do with words, videos and pictures across their digital assets.

Story Telling How To Books
“No one reads online,” is one of my favorite myths. No one reads boring copy no matter where it resides. We read to be transported. We read to touch the divine. We read to empathize. We read to get outside of ourselves if only for a few minutes. We may have new more interactive ways to read, but why we read is always about story. Who can resist, “Let me tell you a story….”? The ten managers in our meeting on Wednesday couldn’t and neither will your website’s visitors.

Telling great stories is an art, an art anyone can learn with enough patience, work and diligence. Here are my favorite “How To Tell Great Stories” books:

#1 Made To Stick by the Heath BrothersMade to Stick book
Internet marketers don’t just need to tell stories, we need those stories to sprout legs and walk around the world. There is no better “meme creation” manual than Made to Stick. Meme’s are cultural ideas that are, like a fire in a dry field, rapidly being shared across social networks, by word-of-mouth, in text messages and (if you are my luddite mother) via snail mail.

#2 Tell To Win by Peter Guber
Movie executive Peter Guber shares great stories of his amazing career along with tips on how you too can become a great storyteller. The emphasis here is oral storytelling like Don Lockwood at our management lunch, but it is easy to see how to carry Guber’s ideas to your site’s copy.

#3 Story: Substance, Structure and Style and The Principles of Screenwriting by Robert McKeeStory by Mckee book
I love this book. It is intoxicating and you never watch movies the same way after reading it, but transposing to web copy has been a harder journey. For years I tried to find a way to fit McKee’s screenwriting tips into my web copy. Never got there but the journey wasn’t a waste of time and neither is reading Story.

#4 Letting Go of the Words: Writing Web Content That Works by Janice Redish
The web is a visual medium that is scanned more than read. Redish helps explain how to paint with words on your site. At a seminar the other day the leader said no one reads past 100 words. I disagree (if you just read that last sentence you are well past 100 words. I strongly disagree and know at least one “person” who will read every word on your site – Google’s spider. Wander around SEO Guru Bruce Clay’s site and count the words on a page and buy Redish’s book to learn the art of painting words to your site.

#5 Net Words – Creating High Impact Online Copy by Nick Usborne
An older (pre-social marketing) book with solid tips. Redish is more NOW, but I still return to Net Words every now and again for a refresher on Nick’s ideas. If you have to buy one “web writing” book buy Redish, but if Internet marketing is your chosen profession read both.

Telling great stories post-Panda is a must. If you missed our Internet Marketing Meetup about Panda’s many implications you may want to read my Best SEO Is No SEO ScentTrail blog post and glance through the Best SEO Is No SEO Prezi.


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