Writing nothing for no one: tales from the world of SEO

Ever do a Google search only to find that the first item links to a page that seems way too shitty to be the first thing to come up for whatever you just searched?

If so, then some sad former peer of mine— his undershirt Cheetos-stained and his beard savagely overgrown— just let a single tear roll slowly from one of his bloodshot eyes and over his incredulous, grinning lips.

I wasn’t always the wealthy, renowned Uniter beat reporter I am today. Once upon a time, you see, I was a low-pay, piece-work fat content SEO writer— and now I’m going to tell you all about it, ‘cause stuff.

In case you’re unfamiliar with the acronym, SEO stands for “search engine optimization”. Basically, this is the process by which search engines are continually and intentionally manipulated into ranking-up content for certain searches.

Now, search engines like Google want to make sure only original, high-quality, human-generated content makes it to the top of their queries. In order to prevent irrelevant dummy sites from floating to the top, Google uses a complex algorithm to prioritize the good stuff mentioned above.

So, what’s the solution if you want to guarantee your ironic wolf-shirt boutique is the first thing to come up when someone searches “ironic wolf-shirts Winnipeg”? You pay me, damnit. You pay me to beat the system at its own game(you pay me, like, minimum wage, I mean).

Truth be told, I didn’t do this for very long, but it was my first “writing” gig.

For example, my employer might have told me, “Okay, I need 1000 words about scraping bird-shit off of windshields for this bird-shit cleaning service’s website. Keyphrase: bird-shit Winnipeg. Keyphrase density: 4% (meaning that the phrase “bird-shit” must constitute over 4% of the 1000 word article).”

From that point, it was my job to write 1000— or 500, or 1500— coherent words about whatever. Every job was kind of like writing an eighth-grade level research paper with the grammar knowledge of a university English student and the necessity to repeatedly violate a strange phrase into my work again and again and again. (I’m so sorry keywords, they… they made me do it.)

I don’t really have much else to tell you, folks, so I guess this is just some weird, truncated information-puke that I just took, and now you’re probably wondering why you read it at all. I guess… maybe you… learned something? You learned something from when I did SEO work?

I did SEO work, is what I’m saying.

So if you ever find yourself deep into an internet-browsing session— I mean “clicking through the recesses of obscure small business’ template-sites” deep— just remember: somebody wrote that crap nobody but you has ever laid eyes on.

You’re welcome.