Good SEO Breeds Bad Writing: How Google Ruined Journalism

Google good SEO

Good SEO (Search Engine Optimization) is vital when trying to attract traffic to your site, and much of that traffic comes from Google. Google is, after all, the “Search Engine” they are referring to when they say SEO. But what a debacle it has made of good writing.

While you’re here, check out Crypto Kev Slamming Craig Wright.

Sorry, Google. Your Algorithm Sucks.

Google has put in place an opaque and constantly changing algorithm that determines what results get on the front page of a Google search. Good SEO practices include things like littering a piece of writing with your keyword. But not too much. That keyword, by the way, needs to also be in your title. And your permalink. And your meta description.

You need to link to pages with authority. That’s authority according to the Google algorithm, of course. And you want links coming to your site from pages of authority. And not from pages of ill-repute. All, of course, at the whim of the mysterious Google algorithm.

Google brilliantly shifts the sands on writers too. Every algorithm tweak has SEO “experts” scratching their heads for weeks before producing better optimization formulae. (“You’d make a really good SEO expert” is one of those insult-hidden-within-a-compliment statements.)

The shifting sands of Google's algorithm
The shifting sands of Google’s algorithm

Google uses its algorithm to give users a better and more accurate experience during a search. But it has destroyed good writing and often leads you down a path to lame, bland, noisy articles. And we all know what they say about empty vessels.

So Long The Clever Pun, It’s The Era of Good SEO

Whether you were around during its publication or not, there isn’t a journalist or writer alive who doesn’t yearn for the days when headlines read more like The Sun’s ‘Super Caley Go Ballistic, Celtic Are Atrocious’, a year-2000 article about Inverness upsetting Celtic. (Though, in truth it was likely inspired by the Liverpool Echo’s Ian Callaghan in the 1970s, whose Super Cally Goes Ballistic, QPR Atrocious.)

Football fan or not. Celtic fan or not. That headline is outstanding. (And for the truly green, an obvious reference to the Mary Poppins hit Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious.)

The beast that is the Google algorithm would have none of that, anymore. Even this own author’s attempt covering a cryptocurrency industry story with the headline “Bitcoin Averts Slaughter, Let the Clubbered Tether Burn. Burn Clubbered Tether… Burn!” was taking a risk in today’s race to figure out, manipulate, and reign supreme over Google’s algorithm and the art of good SEO.

Sure. 68,000 hits are OK. But it is not millions.

Profanity is out even when deserved. Clever is as if from a bygone era. The internet is becoming increasingly tabloidified. Power words. Emotive words. Alt text for images.

Many might argue there was always a place for both tabloid journalism and, well, proper journalism. That’s true. Sadly, the space for the latter, given media is increasingly consumed online and fed via a Google search, is shrinking.

I’m with Emmanuel Lewis on this one. To hell with it… Let’s let writers be writers again and enjoy the art of the colorful headline.

Images via Pixabay, Videos via YouTube