SEO keywords in web content has changed the way most people read and gather information.
The Death of the Paragraph
As a former teacher, I've spent many years in many classes with many books learning about how to teach reading and writing. Then. there were all the post graduate college classes finally certifying me as a teacher of English as a Second Language. I'm a well educated and professional freelance writer, and I'm proud of it..
When I run across information that doesn't fit into my perspective on language, I can usually argue my way into believing that someone is professing a personal opinion as a fact. Readers, in a rush, may interpret what somebody thinks as a personal opinion is actually a fact. Saying doesn't make it so. Gossip is unsubstanciated secondhand retelling or something that might or might not be true, no matter where the info came from.
Entertainment reading, for me, is quite different from informational academic reading. However, everyone has his own reasons for reading whatever it is he or she reads--wheather it's "the Enquirer" or the encyclopedia. In my opinion reading anything is great because too many semi-educated humans intentionally shy away from reading the written word. I know too many adults who habitually don't read because they consider it work, like homework, and there's nobody to make them do it, so they don't read for enlightenment or edification. Instead they are entertained by all the options for passing time in leisure. They watch lots of media.
They don't buy books, they don't read newspapers, but many of these people spend all their free time skimming snippets and chatting in social networks like Facebook. The evolution of the Internet and the social evolution of our species may be diluting our ability to communicate with each other because of the way we now use language.
I've had numerous short-term freelance assignments that entailed compiling research and creating an article for a web site. Over the past eight years, the instructions for writing gigs have changed. Internet content must now be SEO.
Search Engine Optimization uses keyword placement and density throughout an article in order to catch the attention of the search engine "robots". The "bots" scan a web page's content, looking for keywords in specific places, and verify that the keyword(s) is used a minimal number of times, which is referrred to as a numeric percentage density. If you write web content for someone else, for pay, SEO strategy is mandatory. It's a formula, and if you want the gig, you follow the formula.
In 2008 I had a seven month job writing fashion, beauty and makeup articles for what became a very large web site. My employer provided me with a computer program application that would guide me, as I wrote, to insert necessary words where the robots would find them. What I was able to create with the program wasn't up to my standards. It felt like a word formula whose purpose was not communication.
I was finally able to adapt my writing style and include SEO strategy so that what I turned in for the website made sense. That employer was a thinking man, and he realized that his program's output was missing the human aspect of comprehension in some cases.
Not all those seeking help to fill their web site with content are as logical. They figure, if they get the bots, the people will come. My issue is that whatever is on a web site ought to be written in a manner that people will read it, and understand the information presented to them.
If you run across a web site whose wording is strange, whose sentence structure feels foreign, what you're reading what was written for a bot. Personally, I am insulted. I don't wish to learn bot language because I'm not a bot. Bots don't speak anyhow. I acknowledge that bots exist, they do have a function, but SEO strategy is something I work through, not enthusiastically embrace.
So a few years have passed, and the number of SEO writing apps has mushroomed, but I haven't found one yet that can help me write the way humans read. I didn't spend my entire life learning about grammar and usage and communication to throw it out because of an new language communication thief, the ever vigilent Internet robot. I know what keywords are, and I know how people read. Or I thought I did.
When we learn something, it's difficult to unlearn it, to break a habit. However, I have to admit that language changes over time, and if you don't change with it the world will go on and leave you behind. "Dig it? Outasight man! Flower power forever...."
I was only somewhat aghast at this marketing industrialist's perception of the change in the way we gather written information. I don't know if it's what he says that bothers me, or the implications of his facts.
Click the link below (or copy and paste it to your browser) to view a 42 second video archivedat the webpronews site.
I don't like to admit this, but when I read web content, I usually begin the way Ted Ulle, of WebmasterWorld.com, describes in the clip.
I had to watch the video several times before I understood what the man was actually saying. I understood the words, but what he was saying just couldn't be right.
Stating that "the paragraph is dead" threw me into the temper tantrum you would expect from an old grammar grouch. The thought of a world with no paragraphs sounds to me like a script idea for a "Twilight Zone" episode. Nevertheless, if we stop to think about it, perhaps we have indeed fallen into this communication nightmare, totally unaware.
How do you read Internet articles? I admit to skimming, and not scrolling down to read the article in its entirity. I'm not sure if paragraphing leads me to jump into the next visual chunk. It seems to me, that a well written article completes one thought before presenting the next. A writer does that to avoid confusion. I don't want to believe that the paragraph has been deflated into a mere visual chunk of typography.
Has the way we write and read changed because of the Internet? Is it time to throw out the old rules, and cater to the lowest common denominator? If I've sparked you to question how you read and what you get from it, please feel free to respond with your thoughts. In the meantime, I'll be hunting for my next SEO web content assignment, assured that what I produce with SEO knowledge and human effort will be of better quality than any program app available.