For the past number of years, the people here at Red Rocket Web Specialists have been preaching that it’s important to write website content for your readers, not necessarily for the search engines, however, recently, Google has shown indications that they’re more inclined to reward websites that use academic, highly-educated, researched, lofty-sounding content that’s filled with four- and five-syllable words than those sites that use simple, common language like you might use when speaking with someone face-to-face or on the phone. This poses a problem for several reasons: first, the human brain doesn’t readily grasp those academic-sounding words that you’d only find in one of those tear-off vocabulary-word-of-the-day calendars and secondly, at the exact same time that they’re apparently rewarding sites for using superfluous language, they also released a contradictory algorithm change (dubbed Hummingbird) which was designed to rank sites higher when they utilize colloquial, everyday spoken language in light of the shift from traditional desktop searches to mobile phone searches using voice-recognition applications that actually recognize the users search query, translate it from an audio recording into text and report back with the latest search results.
We find ourselves in a conundrum, caught between the desire to write simple content that’s easily understood, like everyday spoken language and the need to deliver academic-sounding content, just for the sake of higher Google rankings. If we don’t write content that ranks well on Google, then no one will every discover it in the first place, completely negating the purpose of writing great content that resonates with people. You see, we have always believed that writing in a tone that sounds like spoken language is better because the human brain is wired to grasp spoken language much more easily than written language. While the pre-frontal cortex of the human brain is very intelligent and can understand very complex concepts, there’s a much dumber section of the brain that’s ill-equipped to grasp academic thought. That part of the brain is called the amygdala and it’s only about the size of a walnut. Located at the top of the brain stem, the amygdala is the part of the mind that activates the flight or flight mechanism which puts the body into a very simplified state, blocking out all unnecessary data and only focusing on what’s needed to survive in that particular moment. We call this the caveman brain because it’s really dumb. We all have this dumb part in our brains and even the most intelligent geniuses ever, like Einstein had one. Yes, even Einstein had a dumb part in his brain. Here’s the issue that we face when being asked to write more and more complicated-sounding content – we may be able to write content that’s initially understood by the frontal cortex, but the amygdala is the part of the brain that’s also responsible for making buying decisions; this causes the brain to take in the information, evaluate it based on certain criteria, and then pass that information to the amygdala for a yes or no decision. That’s when the caveman brain gets confused and is likely to reject the information rather than processing it and actually replying with a positive or negative response; this often comes back in the form of a “maybe” or “I’ll need to think it over” response. Those are the words of death for any experienced sales person who knows that those phrases really mean, “You’re never going to get the sale because I’m just too nice to tell you ‘no’ at this time so instead, I’ll keep you hanging for a while, dodging your calls and not responding to your emails, hoping that eventually, you’ll give up and I’ll still feel like a good guy who didn’t have to hurt your feelings.”
So where do we go from here and what are we supposed to do considering this blatantly contradictory evidence that Google is simultaneously rewarding colloquial language and academic vocabulary, especially since scientific studies have validated that the amygdala is wired to reject more sophisticated-sounding writing styles? Apparently, this necessitates an approach that appeals to both camps and utilizes uncommon vocabulary with more syllables and use longer sentence structures in order to attract readers to our sites from the search results pages, and then hope to retain their attention long enough to get them to read the real content that’s intended to speak to their caveman brain. Can it be done effectively and not cause a disconnect in the reader’s mind when they are suddenly shifted from one writing style to another? That remains to be seen and the internet is an ever-changing, organic, monster that’s being tested every single day. We’ll keep our readers posted on this and other important topics as they surface. Until then, I hope that helps.