I was browsing through Akismet-ed comments when I found a rather interesting snippet in the form of spam:
Funny how blogs, websites, and basically all online activity are ruled by SEO. Search Engine Optimization has become the 2nd god of the internet.
Funny, really. I’m not really into tech and all, so I don’t know a lot about search engine optimization. I may be using SEO, but I’m quite lazy when it comes to tags, metatags, and I haven’t installed the All-In-One SEO pack for this particular WordPress installation. I don’t consciously use SEO tactics, I don’t make money out of my blog, and the most I do is generate and provide content.
I’m not “anti-SEO” in the sense that I think that “blogging should remain pure,” or that “people should not make money out of blogs.” Like any form of writing, blogging is impure to begin with (more on that when I feel like it). Besides, many people already generate a nifty income (perhaps bigger than my salary) because of blogging.
My “philosophy” when it comes to online writing and/or blogging (the terms are not synonymous, more on that when I feel like it) is that machines and search engines don’t read online content: people do.
I think of SEO theory in terms of this (rather stupid) example: if SEO is about keywords and indexing, then you can completely ignore creative license and just write keywords. Blogging and online writing centered and focused on SEO will still get traffic and still earn money in that way. We can simply take away the “people” part of the technology, and consign the popularity of blogging to page ranks and tactics to keep us on top of search engines. It doesn’t work that way, but I think you get my point.
SEO, traffic, and blog monetization are great ideas, but any exercise in blogging should be clear in its objectives. This is at the core of every blogging-related rant I ever made over the past five or so years that I’ve been blogging (which makes me kind of ancient, come to think of it). All bloggers have audiences, and it’s very important to disclose to that audience what that blog is for. If you make money out of your blog, disclose. If you use your blog for SEO tactics, disclose. Disclosure is not a remedy for “screwing the stupid public;” there’s no screwing going on, and the public is not stupid. Disclosure is simply the (simple, possible, everyone-can-do-it) act of telling your audience where you’re coming from, and what you aim to do.
Don’t get me wrong: I have no problems with people who use SEO. I am not “anti-SEO.” I don’t use SEO for any reason deeper or contrived than the fact that I simply don’t use it. Had I known about SEO way back, I would have used it, but I think that I might as well do myself a favor and focus on my core competencies: ranting, raving, and lyrics translations.
What I do believe in is a people-oriented, people-centered blogging method: something that goes beyond the possibilities of “unlimited income” and PageRank and traffic and indexing. True relevance and “ranking” is achieved not through SEO exclusively, but through writing good content. You can still achieve the same results – perhaps even more – without the benefit of SEO but with the benefit of good writing. Remember: page ranks are temporary and fleeting, but ideas and stories shared last forever. The best marketing you can do for your blog is to generate good, unique content.
Yes, even if it hurts.
I think that even the most hardcore defender or proponent of SEO out there will tell you that there’s no substitute for unique, engaging content. While blogging is hailed to be a great money-making venture and a fantastic business opportunity, blogging should also be a venture and an opportunity to “democratize” writing, to improve on the written word, and to make even the weakest voices audible and relevant to public discourse without the benefit of page ranks.
Meh, maybe I’m going insane arguing and debating and wringing my hands over a spam comment, but I think that the Internet, as vast as it is, is just too small for two gods.