There are a number of different elements to online marketing and as I may have mentioned before, one techniques I have been utilizing quite a bit is called Search Engine Optimization or SEO. SEO is the buzz topic of internet marketing at the moment and involves finding ways to make your website rank highly on search engines. If you did a Google search for ‘London’ for example, it’s not simply luck that the results you see there have been placed at the top of the list. Search engines such as Google carefully guard the algorithm that ranks results so that marketers and web site owners can’t take advantage of it and artificially rank more highly but there are a couple of factors that go into causing a website to rank highly for a particular search and that has created the practice of SEO.
The first and most important part of ranking highly is keyword and text optimization. You could never expect to rank for the search ‘London’ if you don’t have the word London on your webpage. Additionally, if you have the word London displayed in such a way that the search engine crawlers that automatically view, catalog and rank your webpage can’t see it (such as in an image or movie instead of in text) the search engine doesn’t recognize that your page has relevant keywords. On the other hand, a popular SEO strategy used to involve “keyword stuffing” which meant adding high numbers of popular search keywords, or the same word repeated many times, penalizes the site as search engines have developed advanced ways of determining if the text is relevant and contextual or not.
The trick in writing SEO text is to compose paragraphs that involve the most popular keywords, in the format they might appear when someone types a search phrase into Google, yet making those keywords sound natural contextually. The higher up on the page, and in your body text, the keywords appear the better. Like a topic sentence in an academic essay which outlines the rest of the content of your writing, text in the first paragraph or even sentence of an article, blog post or web page lets search engine robots know what the content of your page is about. For example, look at the first sentence of this post:
There are a number of different elements to online marketing and as I may have mentioned before, one techniques I have been utilizing quite a bit is called Search Engine Optimization or SEO.
This is a great SEO sentence. It doesn’t sound like I’ve stuffed keywords in to trick a search engine but I’ve managed to include three key search phrases, ‘online marketing,’ ‘search engine optimization’ and ‘SEO’ in the first few lines of my post. Here is an example of how I could have written my first paragraph that would have meant the same thing to my human readers but might have caused search engine robots to view my post as less relevant to people looking for online marketing and SEO information:
There are many different elements to my marketing job, all related to driving more traffic to the Spoonfed website. One of the most important parts involves finding ways for Spoonfed to rank highly on popular web search results.
In that case, I didn’t use any key search phrases, and I probably wouldn’t find a way to fit those key words in until much farther down in my post, causing the robots to believe those subjects are less relevant to my post over all.
This has been a longwinded and fairly technical way to get to my main point which has been nagging me ever since I began to learn about SEO. As the pressure increases to rank highly in search engines, bring traffic to websites and create pages that Google and the other leading search engines can recognize and rank, how much will this change web writing? While of course talented writers will always find a way to incorporate keywords naturally, the need to be understood by artificial Google robots can easily lead to a stilted and unnatural writing style – just look at the top ranking results on some Google searches. As print authors are more and more turning to the web, and web authors are more and more looking towards SEO strategies to bring traffic to their site, what happens when those authors find themselves not writing for a human audience but for a robotic one?
I find it unlikely that such a writing style would ever be more appealing than natural, well-crafted prose. In what is possibly a unrealistic and utopian vision of the SEO future, some sort of AI English teacher-style robot will troll the web, knocking the web crap out of the rankings no matter how many keywords they work in. One can only hope.