Search Engine Optimization, or SEO, is a term that anyone who has created a website or written for a website is all too familiar with. SEO is the process of making a website more “visible” in search results, through the use of keywords, edited content, linking, and other formatting. Since using SEO effectively can mean more page view and more money, it has crept into the mindset of nearly every writer or editor for an online publication. Since we at the The Gabbler are rather skeptical of “optimizing” writing through these tactics, we wanted to meet with SEO in person to discuss the process further. Unfortunately, he was a bit more interested in optimizing us.
TG: Thanks so much for meeting with me, Mr. Search Engine Optimization.
SEO: Are you sure you want to use that title for this story?
TG: Why? Do you find it offensive? It’s just a joke, I promise! I am really looking forward to speaking with you today.
SEO: Offensive? Not at all. It’s just not very optimized. It’s way too short. You need more keywords, at the very least. And it really doesn’t differentiate this page enough.
TG: But, it’s cute, and there’s a rhyme involved. It’s a good, catchy title!
SEO: Also, your introductory paragraph really isn’t very optimized. It should be a bit shorter, but with exactly four sentences. This will enable full optimization.
TG: But I structured my article this way for a reason. I was being creative. You know, setting up a teasing introduction, building suspense–
TG: I’m giving an interview! I’m trying to write clearly and concisely. Plus, that many links are just distracting to the reader, don’t you think?! You know, Intro to Creative Writing said NOTHING about SEO.
SEO: Well, this is the real world, sweetheart. Save the creative writing for your journal. Words have monetary worth now, so choose your words wisely! Don’t you want page views? Don’t you want your work to actually be seen?
TG: I mean, of course I care, but I also value the artistic integrity of my work as a writer. I want people to read and share my articles because they are good pieces of writing, not because I’ve snuck in keywords, algorithms, and links to sneakily get more clicks.
SEO: Can I just say that for better optimization, we should really break this article up with a photo or cute gif right about now? Your audience is definitely losing interest, if they haven’t already. (AHEM, High bounce rate!) And Google likes to see text broken up with images! OH, I know! What about that cute video of the two really attractive parents lip syncing to the theme song from Frozen?
TG: What? That has absolutely nothing to do with this interview.
SEO: That doesn’t matter. Optimization = page views. Page views = $$$$!
TG: I think that you and I just have really different perspectives on what qualifies as quality content, SEO.
SEO: And I think that you’re going to lose if you don’t wake up and smell the coffee, sweetheart. Do you think that other online publications don’t live and breathe SEO, too? The Huffington Post makes a KILLING off of this shit. Throw “Prince Harry” or “Miley Cyrus” into your titles and see what happens. It will blow your Google Analytics’ socks off. Say it with me: OPTIMIZE!
TG: But once you start writing with an SEO formula in mind, don’t you stop writing for yourself and for your reader?! This is why quality journalism is dying. And why people don’t read anymore. And why there is less and less unique, well-researched, properly edited content on the web.
SEO: Hmm. We are really straying from full optimization. I know! Let’s talk about Game of Thrones! It’s heavily trending right now.
TG: I don’t want to talk about Game of Thrones. I want to talk about you, and how you have destroyed online writing. You know, the internet could have saved journalism and magazines. It could have been a better, more exciting media that allowed for multiple ways to give and receive content. But everyone is just selling out to you, SEO, to get more page views. More and more publications are sponsored content. Words can be bought and sold. It’s horrible.
SEO: Okay, enough. Do me a favor and grow the fuck up. Write exclusively in your Moleskin if it bothers you so much. This is the world we live in. Now I’ll ask you one more time: do you want to take this Buzzfeed quiz to find out Which Pop Star Could Be Your Best Friend or what? Say it with me: OPTIMIZE!
TG: GET THE FUCK OUT OF HERE. NOW!!!!!