Browsing Twitter one day I came across a pretty senior level role for a prominent UK organisation. Nothing unusual there. But, upon reading through the job advertisement it soon became apparent that no thought whatsoever had gone into its make-up. Indeed, this job post was over 200 lines long and consisted purely of dull cut and pasted, bullet-pointed content lifted straight from a job description.
As someone who writes recruitment communications copy for a living, I decided to ask the advertiser why, as a leading light in their field, they saw fit to post such a dull, boring and totally unappealing piece of text and pass it off as a job ad. I suggested that it would be the equivalent of a leading vehicle breakdown recovery service driving around in a beaten up 20 year old jalopy (OK, it wasn't my best analogy ever). Their response, much to my surprise, was: "Our current CMS doesn't give us much flexibility with internal job ads". In other words, 'computer says no'.
More recently, having written some content for a recruiter's website - something I've done countless times for consultancies big and small - I enquired as to how the design side of things was coming along, only to be told by my client that the web company "tore apart the copy and said it wasn’t Google compliant and doesn’t meet readability standards". I won't tell you what I uttered when I heard that. Essentially, the web design people were telling my client "sod creativity, what does Google think?"
Seriously, I will never understand why people can’t get their heads round the fact that it isn’t all about Google rankings. It's about creating a good impression. It's about being able to give someone a business card and them go to your site and be impressed by the style and tone of your message. It’s about being able to promote your website on social media. And, above all, it’s about coming across as human rather than robotic.
A decent marketing mix will get your company name out there and lead people to a website that you should be proud of. Not one that has had the creativity tweaked out of it because Google didn’t like the way it read. Not one that relies on you being on the first page of a Google search by someone who has never heard of you and is blindly looking for a recruitment consultancy to use. Does anyone actually look for a recruitment consultancy that way? A plumber or other tradesperson in your local area maybe, but not a recruiter surely?
Just because a website with lots of back office bells and whistles gets the No. 1 spot in a Google search doesn’t necessarily make that company the best in their field. It's a bit like the old days of yellow pages where, for example, people called their company 'AAA Security' so that they would be listed first under their category. Did everyone blindly contact them and no one else?
As it says in the headline, technology IS killing creativity. For many people, analytics have become more important than words. Nowadays, if you have a good story to tell about your business, you'd better tell it in a way Google likes, or else. Really? Imagine if Shakespeare were alive today. He’d probably be told his works weren’t SEO friendly and to go back to the drawing board.
Perhaps it's time to reclaim the higher ground from technology and focus more about how you talk to your target audience, rather than be dictated to by technical types whose only concern is what Google thinks. After all, whether you want to sell the most cars or holidays or attract the best people, you surely need to have some kind of 'sell' going on, not just state the cold dull facts, don't you?
Thankfully, there's a positive ending to my rant. After my client had broken the bad news to me, they went on to say "I told them I don’t care and am sticking with it" - which is the right answer. Like me, they see their website as not something to be found in a random search (as I say, who searches for a recruitment consultancy in such a way anyway?) but as an online brochure that they can confidently promote and steer people towards knowing that it serves as a good sales tool. A website that encapsulates what they are all about, rather than a dull and turgid website that satisfies what Google analytics are all about.
Long live creativity (if technology doesn't kill it in the meantime).