“Yes it is,” my sister retorted, angling her head to admire her five letter, make-believe masterpiece. “Look it up, Dad.”
“You can’t use a dictionary when you play Scrabble. That’s as bad as cheating at solitaire.”
My sister folded her arms, studiously defiant. “It’s a word, Dad! We learned it in school.”
“We don’t even have a dictionary,” Mom chimed in. “We’re on vacation.”
When I was a kid on family vacation, Scrabble and other word games (Boggle, Categories) were taken seriously. Competitive and cutthroat, matches would turn particularly feisty if the weather turned sour and we were holed up in the Pop Up Camper for a couple days. In other words, it became less like a family holiday and more like the last days in Hitler’s bunker. But I digress…
SEO and Internet marketing is notorious for awkward keywords, ungainly phrases and strings of mismatched words that would make a fourth grade teacher cringe. A writer in a previous post likened SEO to a “Headless Chicken in Cambodia,” and that just about sums it up. When I was first introduced to the concept of keywords, my reaction was similar to my father’s when my sister tried to pull a fast one at Scrabble: WHAT! Wholesale cars cheap south africa. That phrase doesn’t make sense. Ever heard of capitalization?
Somewhere along the way, I realized SEO and Scrabble are one in the same. In a game of Scrabble, you randomly choose 7 tiles, hoping to get a good combination of vowels and consonants that will enable you to string together a high scoring word. Anyone who’s played the game, however, knows what it’s like to get stuck with a handful of mismatched and incompatible letters. Needless to say, you have to find a clever and nimble way to work your letters onto the board; either that, or forfeit your turn and toss your tiles back into the pile and pick again, which is the kiss of death if you want to rack up a good score and take down your father once and for all.
The clumsy words and phrases that often dominate SEO are like getting stuck with a bad hand at Scrabble, but as a content writer you still need to figure out how to incorporate those cumbersome phrases into the article. Are there any tricks of the trade? Not really. Even a precisely blended keyword (phrase) can stick out like a sore thumb, especially to the person writing the piece. It becomes particularly dicey when the keyword has nothing all to do with the topic of the article. Creativity goes a long way, and it’s a good idea to remember that your fourth grade teacher isn’t going to be grading the punctuation.
If you want to start some informal training on how to be an SEO guru, dig out that faded and slightly warped Scrabble board from the game closet. Just watch out for wordsmiths like my sister. There’s one in every family.
Damon H is a freelance writer available on WriterAccess, a marketplace where clients and expert writers connect for assignments.