You’d think that hard copy and SEO were polar opposites. After all, SEO is all about internet search values. As it happens, they have a lot in common. Even the way a hard copy product is laid out is, in fact, quite similar to SEO in terms of its functions. The simple fact is that they’re really different versions of the same process.
SEO is based on finding the best search terms for people looking for information online. These are the keyword phrases that are most likely, and in many cases, the most efficient, terms to search. If you’re looking for a Westinghouse fridge, you’ll search ‘Westinghouse + fridge,’ and you’ll definitely find a Westinghouse fridge.
Not quite a stunning revelation, perhaps, but this very basic form of classification of terms makes the internet operate efficiently. It quite literally couldn’t work in its modern form today without SEO. SEO has always been about making things easier to find. There are levels and degrees of complexity in SEO, too, and the terms used are really designed to find core subjects for searching. SEO is, in some senses, a type of case-specific indexing.
Indexing dates back to the early days of publishing. When people used nothing but hard copy references, the index was the only way to find anything. Chapters, titles, the index itself and bibliographies were the standard ways of making things easy to find. Modern hard copy, in fact, particularly business hard copy, is an upgraded version of these basic formatting options, usually written in different versions of report writing forms.
The hard copy version of SEO
What’s changed, and changed dramatically, is the content approach. A basic business card is a good example. Any printing services company with a high level of experience will tell you, the following are the most important, and basic pieces of information your business card should contain.
A business card contains almost nothing but SEO information, including:
- Company names
- Contact options
In an average of about 100 words, the business card is itself high value content, in indexed form. If you were looking for the person or business on the card, this is the information you need. The content is all SEO material, and business card printing operations use forms to set up your business card.
Very much the same applies to other types of hard copy:
- Business brochures are all basic information, basically enlarged business cards.
- Business reports are written and formatted specifically to cover key areas of interest to their readers- This is ‘Search Engine Optimization’ in the most literal sense, simply done manually. Finding information is much easier, and the document is laid out specifically to provide information more efficiently.
- White papers and technical documents are similar, although they’re more geared to specialist readers, so the SEO approach is more detailed and more tuned to specific areas of interest.
Hard copy content and SEO best practice
It’s content, however, which has really embraced the SEO principles. ‘Content is king’ on the internet simply because it’s content that makes relative information values. Good content is highly valued, lousy content is ignored.
Hard copy has also picked up the ‘content is king’ approach, vetting and modifying content to provide high value information on a cost-effective basis. The new business hard copy is infinitely more efficient in this regard than its verbose predecessors, and it’s delivering much higher value in the market. This content is also directed at an almost entirely new market, which expects internet-standard content values.
Hard copy has effectively been reinvented with its own type of SEO. Watch this evolution, because you’ll see a whole new paradigm developing. It won’t be dull.