Did you know there are three kinds of editors? No, I am not talking about book, magazine, and newspaper editors. The editing of today is not your grandfathers editing. The editing of today is not aligned to print, but rather electronic media…as if I had to spell that out.
The three editors of which I speak are:
What are these editors and why is knowing the difference important to your website?
As a writer, I have encountered each kind of editor and have learned that two should be avoided when writing for the Internet — unless you don’t care if your website gets traffic.
The Human-Centric Editor
The first kind, the Human-centered editor, is more of the traditional editor. The human-centered editor understands that people read what is written, that people are the reason we write, that unless the information resonates with people, the words on the page (electronic or otherwise) are useless. So, the Human-centered editor edits content such that people will enjoy a pleasant ring when reading. The words will flow and have a delight to them, much as water gently gurgling through a shallow spring on a warm summer eve.
The Machine-Centric Editor
The second kind of editor was born of the Internet, of SEO (search engine optimization). The words need not flow. Nothing extra is added. Sentences are short and choppy. Everything is direct-to-the-point with no added words…UNLESS…the words serve to draw search traffic results. The writing is done for the sake of the machines searching for the pages. That’s it. Period.
The Social-Centric Editor
The last kind of editor was also born of the Internet and understands SEO, SEM, and a host of other useful search-related concepts. This editor also knows that although what is written must get the attention of the search engines, what is written must also be shared by people. To be shared by people, the writing must be appealing. This means alternating the rhythm of the words and phrases, using alliteration, hyperbole, metaphors, and other creative writing techniques that provide a fun read. The Social-centric editor knows that the most important aspect to the writing is providing the information a reader wants in an appealing way. The Social-centric editor knows that sometimes, repetition is useful. That concise is not always best. That adding transitional and connecting phrases is not something to be avoided, but used wisely.
Of These Three Editors, Which is Friend to Your Website?
Writing for the Internet differs from traditional media in the sense that people are able to find information in a very different way than in times past. Pre-Internet, if a person wanted reliable information, they might get the local newspaper, watch the local TV channel, listen to their favorite radio station, subscribe to a few magazines, and perhaps pick up others at the grocery store checkout. And they would read books they either found in the library or elsewhere.
All that media was quite static. It did not change much once published and if it did, it was rare. Successful writing for these media required a flair for capturing people’s imaginations, getting their attention with eye-popping headlines, and fostering trust over time. Yet, more importantly, finding these forms of media were a matter of what the local vendors decided to carry on their shelves or what we happened to seek out by way of subscription services — really, our access to media was limited, though it at times appeared unlimited.
As unlimited as magazine selections and books seemed, it was a proverbial drop compared to the Internet. But not only does the Internet provide more, it allows us to change convention — notice I started this sentence with “but” which in todays media is perfectly acceptable. Which brings us back to editing.
When we edit today, we must edit in a way that not only attracts search engines but also gets the attention of readers. The same editing elements of the past are needed, but convention can be somewhat tossed. People find information today in a radically different way, more like sharing a good story with a friend than searching the Dewey Decimal System…more like clipping stories out of a favorite newspaper and posting them at work on the company bulletin board than sharing the newspaper around the break room…more like phoning all your friends at once asking “What’s the latest?” than hanging out at the coffee shop with a select crowd. We must edit accordingly.
So. Ignore the traditionalists — they cannot get the search engines to work for you.
And. Ignore the mechanics — they cannot develop loyalty in readers.
Find editors who know how to both create content the search engines will love and the readers will equally love and share. Look for Social-centric editors.
Oh yea, and if you liked this post, don’t forget to share it. Your friends may appreciate it, but I already do. Many thanks.