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Is Ogilvy Relevant in the Age of SEO?

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David Ogilvy was an advertising executive widely referred to as the father of advertising. He is still one of the most popular inspirations for people deciding to pursue advertising today.

Many say his writing advice is timeless. However, the question we are going to ask in this article is – can we practically apply Ogilvy’s teachings when writing website content in an age where SEO dominates?

Let’s take a look at some of Ogilvy’s writing principles and see if we can use them to top the search engine result pages. Ogilvy advises everybody to:

1) Write naturally, just the way you talk

The majority of websites are regurgitations of one another – all generic, familiar and very boring. Which is surprising, because Google loves unique content. If Google has seen something like your website before, why would they be interested? It would be like reading yesterday’s news, for the 2nd time.

Your best chance of success, is to be unique, fresh and innovative. And what better way to do this than by writing in a natural way – like the way you talk. After all, you are unique – why hide it when writing online?

If you put yourself into what you write, your readers will feel it too. People remember emotion, and if they feel a certain way whilst reading your content, they will associate that feeling with you and your business. If you can make visitors actually feel something when they read your content, they will remember you and – most importantly – your brand.

2) Keep everything short: words, sentences, paragraphs

Originally, Ogilvy made this statement because he knew that complicated text, would ostracize and bore people. In fact, he went on to say: “Never use jargon words like reconceptualise, demassification, attitudinally, judgmentally. They are hallmarks of a pretentious ass.”

This is still true of course. But, if you take one look at the keywords you want to target for a webpage you’ll quickly realise that short and simple is the way to go for SEO too. Your job, whilst optimising your website’s content, it to try and use the phrases that people will use the most. If there is a quicker way to write something whilst searching on Google, people will typically use it. You need to match what they type.

For example:

  • Every month over 20,000 people search for “pay-per-click” on Google. However, over 90,000 search for “PPC”.
  • While only 12,000 people search for “search engine optimisation” on Google, over 600,000 search for “SEO”.

Try to optimise your website with the phrase “Find Search Engine Optimisation Specialist to Accomplish Primary Location on a World Wide Web Search Engine Operator” and you will not only fail miserably to attract traffic, but any you do attract will die of boredom.

If all else fails, use the KISS strategy? Keep It Simple, Stupid.

3) Ensure you make the desired action crystal clear

Always provide clear incentives as to what you want your reader to do with the knowledge they gain from consuming your website content. This point is so valid in the online world today that it is almost unbelievable Ogilvy said it tens of years ago.

Very popular blogs such as Social Triggers talk about the psychology of online marketing, and they are continuously stressing out the importance of being crystal clear in your writing.

If you run a blog, what should the visitor do after they read one of your articles? Should they subscribe for more? Should they comment, like and share it?

So, is Ogilvy’s Advice Relevant in the Age of SEO?

More than ever. A lot of his principles from 10 years ago still apply amazingly well to the online world today. If you follow Ogilvy’s advice, your writing will get better and your search engine rankings will only improve. The man is a genius!