Play the Long Game: Serve Your Audience First

This post was inspired by an article over on Copyblogger by Sonia Simone titled, “The Right Way to Think About Google.” Simone offers five wonderful rules to help us blogger/publishers guide our thinking about Google and its awesome and awesomely-fussy power.

The article culminates with Simone’s fifth rule, which is this: “Serve the audience first.”

Amen. Right on. Way to go. And all that. Simone is dead right. However, the application of this rule should stretch well beyond any SEO implications and the momentary Reign of Google. Remember when Microsoft ruled the day? Remember when Yahoo! was powerful? Remember when Apple unveiled its first mobile phone…the Rokr? Google drops tools from its roster regularly, and without warning. And even Google itself will, one day, end.

Technology is a shifting landscape. Trying to tailor your content to the trend or tool of the moment is like trying to live tweet the Boston fireworks. “Red, big. Blue, whizzy. Snap! Bang! Now dark. Fuscia!” Change happens too quickly—human thumbs aren’t fast enough. Publishers should not see themselves as building blogs, nor Twitter feeds, nor PageRank. Publishers are building audiences—independent of platform, tool, device, or other tech gimmicks. Chasing SEO tweaks or “Likes” or tweets simply means that we’re bowing before the wrong pedestal.

An audience that has been well-served by a publisher or publication will remain strong and loyal through the shifting tech landscape—no matter if they’re reading the content on a scroll, a magazine, a PC, a tablet, or a watch.

So, when writing or assigning your next article, try not to think about “what’s trending” or what “keywords we should use” or “whether or not this will produce a good hashtag.” Instead, return to Simone’s fifth rule, and ask yourself the rock-solid, time-tested, technology-proof question: Will our audience benefit from this information? Do that, and your publication will still be around when people are “reading” it telepathically.

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