Can the 1950s Teach Us About SEO and Content Marketing?

what can the 1950s teach us about content marketing and SEO

Ever seen those vintage educational short films (aka, “shorts”) that promised to teach you everything you need to know about life? 

From the 1930s to the 1980s, peaking in the 1950s, shorts taught us health and safety, manners, and job skills, as well as tips for Internet marketing and SEO.

… Wait, what?

What could you possibly learn about Internet marketing from someone in the 1950s?

A surprising amount, actually.

Thanks to the comedians at Rifftrax, who basically mock shorts for a living, I recently watched the 1950s short, “Writing Better Social Letters.”

In this film, a brother teaches his sister the best ways to write letters to friends and family. Even though this was made in the days before email, texting, and Facebook, some of this advice can be applied to your content marketing and SEO!

Here are some examples:

1. Use an appropriate tone. 

According to the short, if you’re accepting a formal invitation, your response should be equally formal. Likewise, the style of your content needs to match the audience. While a playful, casual style is great for a fitness franchise, it’s less appropriate for a company that researches cancer treatments.

2. Write to get a specific reaction. 

The short teaches us to think about how you want the recipient to feel when they read your letter. Take this same approach with your content marketing. What do you want your audience to feel or think about? What action do you want them to take? Write your content with this in mind.

3. Content should sound like a human. 

You don’t have to be too friendly and seem disingenuous, but your content should have some personality. This is especially important as today’s sophisticated SEO algorithms prioritize content that matches natural-language searches.

4. Format your writing appropriately. 

Online content may not look like a written letter, but both of them have an optimal format. For digital content, this usually means short paragraphs, plenty of white space, informative sub-headings, and bullet points. These elements make it easier to skim, encourage your audience to keep reading, and are easy on the eyes. Formatting is especially important as user experience becomes a stronger factor in SEO.

Turns out, 1950s correspondence and SEO-friendly content marketing have more in common than you might think!

Check out the original short below, or get the even more hilarious Rifftrax version.

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