The internet is filled with content written by people who know nothing about the topic, have no interest in it, and are forsaking quality of content in favor of getting on the first page of Google.
And it has killed writing as an art form.
Most online content is written purely for SEO. Not for the sake of writing, but for SEO. That’s an important distinction because writing for SEO is completely different to you know, actual writing.
Publications nowadays often prioritize Google rankings, which means writing each piece (even each heading) according to specific search terms that have been researched using SEO tools and filled with keywords. They do do this to to get people onto their site and sell their product, not to engage the user with insightful or useful content.
The result is pages of worthless text, void of any real insight, personal opinion or experience.
Writing as an art – as a means to educate, inspire or engage – has become lost in the digital age. Well-researched feature pieces, investigative journalism, real travel writing (where the writer has actually been to the destination) and well thought-out opinion pieces are rare.
Now don’t get me wrong, SEO focused content that sits on the first page of Google for a search term can hugely valuable. I do this a lot. It can drive a lot of traffic and really support a business.
But it sure as hell isn’t writing.
SEO Writers Are Different To Real Writers
To be an SEO writer what do you need? Not a lot. You need to know how to follow a brief, write with proper grammar and so some basic research. It’s not particularly demanding.
To be a writer means something else entirely. For example, a copywriter who uses words to sell things, needs to understand how people think and what they want, and reduce a compelling reason to buy into one sentence.
A travel writer needs to understand the impact of new places and ideas on the human experience, not to mention actually go the bloody place. (You can guarantee 99% of articles about travel are written by people who have never been there.)
Even writing about something as seemingly unromantic as tech, you need to know an awful lot about tech and appreciate the ideas and feelings that inspire its creation.
Whatever you write about, you need to capture people’s imaginations and take the reader on a journey. SEO-focused content never does that. And that’s why most content on the internet is extremely poor quality.
Language adapts as times (and media) change. I get that. But as a marketer creating low-value content to lure Google users onto a site, I hate it.
SEO Content Is Bad, Cynical & All The Same
I’m an SEO guy. I’m also a copywriter by trade (I used to run a small agency) so I’ve worked on both sides of the equation. As much as I’d like SEO to combine with real writing, they just don’t mix.
As valuable a business tool SEO is (I’ve seen first page rankings make way too much money to believe otherwise), if I had to choose, I’d chose real writing every day of the week.
And It’s All The Same. Why?
Well, think about it? Where do the SEO writers get their research?
From content on the first page of Google written by people targeting the exact same keyword!
The result is that SEO writers just copy each other’s crappy content. It’s all the same. Unoriginal. Flat. Boring.
I Have Faith In Content Syndication Platforms
For me, there is hope in rise of content syndication platforms like Medium, Ghost and LiveJournal. The popularity of these platforms means people are thirsting for real, authentic content written by people who know and care about the topic.
And secondly, it means marketers who don’t have the resources to compete in SEO have a really great, organic, value-added way to really engage their target audience.