As a professional writer it is important for me to provide not only quality writing that is delivered on time, but also writing which fills the needs of my client. Before I started writing online, that meant writing documents, columns, newsletters, and articles that conveyed meaningful information to their target audience. Now, after a year long effort to diversify into writing online, there is another goal that makes everything I (and everyone else on the Internet) writes a little less quality than it could be, Google.
When writing online, the target audience is always Google. Google says to write for humans first and let the search bot figure out the rest, but this is suicide, both for the writer who keels to that advice and the websites that do so. As everyone knows, the way people find you in the great big clump of information that is the Internet is via Google, so the reality of the Internet is that you write for Google first, and then hope that whatever is left is still worthwhile for human consumption.
I’m not talking about making writing unintelligible, or even bad, per se, I’m talking about losing some of the quality of writing, not its demise. So, without further ado, here are the Top 7 Reasons Google Made Me a Worse Writer this year.
Top 5 Reasons Google Makes Writing Worse
- Eliminates Creativity – The number one rule in search engine optimization, or SEO, is to use the words everyone else uses. They’re called keywords, and they must be in your title, and the less other words around them the better. So, if you want your story on the guy who threw his shoes at George Bush to rank in Google when someone searches for “george bush shoe throw”, your title better be “Man Throws Shoe At George Bush” and not “Iraqi Journalist Tries to Give Bush the Boot.”
- Keep It Short – On the Internet, no one wants details, at least that’s what Google’s search engine thinks. Ask any SEO expert, and he’ll tell you to keep all webpages to short lengths, around 500 words. The end of the previous sentence is 353 words, and I have a small intro, and I am on number 2 in the list. So, either no intro or a shorter list would be better. Or, perhaps I should not explain the list items and let the reader just take a shot in the dark regarding what I mean. (412 words)
- Pander to Bloggers – Let’s face it, bloggers are not gods. They are not the end all be all of knowledge. In fact, a great many of them have no insight into what they write at all. Others, are moderately insightful at best. But, it doesn’t matter. I rank well, you need links from other sites. The only people you can go ask for links are bloggers. Microsoft won’t link to you just because you ask, neither will CNN, the European Union regulators, or anyone else with actual authority and knowledge. If you are lucky enough to find an exception, it still won’t help as much, because of reason Number 4.
- Being Well Respected and Linked Isn’t Good Enough – Write a great article, or get an amazing comment from a world leader in your area and that helps your ranking, but not enough. If the New York Times cited me for breaking a critical news story, they might link like this, “Brian Nelson, a freelance writer, and journalist at ArcticLlama, LLC discovered the secret of the universe today in a five page dissertation…” Or, they might link my name. Either way, unless they specifically link to me from the words “secret of the universe”, that link won’t count much for showing up in search results for people searching for “secret of the universe.” So, my link from one of the largest news outlets in the world may count less in the search world than the one from JoesSuperDuperNews.com where Joe linked (by request) to someone else using the proper keywords in a post where he writes nothing other than, “Here are some interesting news stories about the universe on the web today.”
- Google Confuses Clients – I understand that Google can’t give away the farm on what makes its search engine work, lest it be copied by everyone else, but its opaqueness maybe goes too far. Worse, Google won’t specifically repudiate some of the nonsense out there, or announce that something that used to be important no longer is. Keyword density is one area that Google has significantly tweaked in its algorithm. It is no longer the case that an article that says “milk growth hormone” eight times (but not 20 times because that is ‘keyword stuffing’) will rank higher than one that says “milk growth hormone” three times. But, try and tell that to the masses who still want more ‘keyword density’.
There is much more, of course, but since I just hit the 800 word mark I must stop writing or Google will never rank this page. Not that it will anyway, because now I have to start doing important work instead of emailing seventy other bloggers and ask them to link to this post with the specific keywords that I researched for thirty minutes before I wrote it. (Oops, skipped that step.)
Here is to a major revision in the Google search algorithm in 2009. Otherwise, next year, my post might read:
“Google Search Engine is the Britney Spears of Barack Obama Shoe Throwing Naked Celebrities”