Friday, September 21, 2007

Kangaroos on Bicycles

It’s funny where inspiration and ideas come from. And it’s often even funnier how they get applied.

Walk with me a minute, and I’ll show you what I mean.

A long time ago, I took a college summer class in poetry writing. I had declared a creative writing minor, and they offered this class from a special guest instructor. I learned a lot from this lady, that I’ve applied in all kinds of writing (and, frankly, living) ever since.

One thing I learned was that often, exciting results come from combining two things that are completely unrelated. She taught us to randomly come up with two nouns, and then the assignment was to write a poem that contained or dealt with those two completely unrelated nouns. One girl in the class came up with a result that has stuck with me for years. Her nouns ended up being “Kangaroo” and “Bicycle”.

At first, when I heard her words, I thought, “I’m glad those aren’t my words.” My words, and my result, of course were so incredible, and so well crafted that, in the end, I’ve completely forgotten them.

But her poem came out with the line: “We love like kangaroos on bicycles…” The point of her poem was that often when we try to relate to each other and love each other, we end up as clumsy and as silly as kangaroos on bicycles, and then we crash.

Now, flash forward a lot of years. I’m working with students and websites, and I’m trying to teach them how to create truly unique content for their websites. I’m not just talking about technically unique content, where the actual words and letters are different, but conceptually unique, where you write something that truly is new.

Why do you want to do that? Because “unique” draws ”attention”. And on the web, “attention” is followed by links, ranking, and traffic.

Conceptually unique content can be a very difficult thing to achieve when your product is commonplace. Let’s say that you’re selling cookware. Do a google search. How many other people are under a cookware listing? 18 million plus, as of this writing, and you’re about to make that one more. What can you do at your site to be unique, to be different from every other site selling cookware?

Well, let’s play the same game. Let’s pick two words that are completely different and see what comes up. One of them will be the product you’re trying to sell. In this example: Cookware. The other word will be something random. How do you get a random word? Well fortunately, the internet will provide all. I googled “random word” and found a website that will generate just that. Using this marvelously useful tool, I generated a word. It actually too a time or two to get something that sparked a cool idea. But it happened. I got “Hindsight”.

Wow. What content could you provide that included the words “Cookware” and “Hindsight”?

Well, has there ever been a time in your life when something you cooked and/or served turned out so excruciatingly badly that, in hindsight, you realized that you shouldn’t have done it? Or at least wish you had done something else? What a great story that would be! What great fresh content that would be! The net is full of homemaking gurus whose houses are perfect and make bundles of money telling everyone how to be the perfect hosts. How about telling us about a time when it all went south!? Don’t you thing a lot more people could relate to that?

Let’s try it again: “Cookware” and “Swimming”?

Maybe something about cooking for a day at the pool. Or how about: “Waiting 30 minutes after eating to swim: Fact or Myth?” Maybe tips for washing your dishes in your pool. Just run with the ideas and see what comes out!

A few more points: When you’re writing content for your site, remember these suggestions:

  1. Make it both technically unique and conceptually unique
  2. Make it intriguing and/or entertaining
  3. If it’s keyword laden, it’s easier for people to find, and if they find it, they can link to it.
  4. Don’t just sit on it, announce it and promote it!

Mark is the co-director of, the search marketing consulting arm of Clickincome ( Mark also has other sites and blogs, including and his MoBoy blog.

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