Every so often I get stuck between a few bits of content I consume and suddenly an idea clicks. It might take a while to flesh it out, and work out if I haven’t got things backwards and just have some kind of frequency illusion of ideas. This one clicked straight away. Whilst listening to The Verge cast from last Friday, I suddenly realised that Google and SEO could be ruining blogging.
That statement is a little hyperbolic, but bear with me here. For me to try to explain myself, I need to pull in from the various bloggers that seem to systematically have a cyclical but at the times the appearance of an existential criss. We all, my self included, wonder why we bother writing any more. That’s because we are told this activity is, and should be, winnable.
You too, can live off the income from adverts, be sent nice things for free and reach the top of Google if you just sacrifice these things. Write about these topics, or think this way, or SEO your words beyond recognition. That’s how you win blogging and get loads of clicks. When blogging doesn’t need winning, it only leads to a sense of why bother putting this out into the world.
I understand that the idea that every post you publish needs to have a utility to the world is ridiculous. Whilst at the same time, by stopping and looking around online at the content farms and self-professed “winners” it is also a completely understandable reaction to have. At times, I feel like my blog has to look and function a certain way, so I can somehow be “of use” to the rest of the web. When in reality no one searches my posts, no one clicks the pagination, and that’s absolutely fine.
This isn’t another don’t do it for others, do it for yourself post - there are enough of them online. It’s a realisation that one of the backbones of the web, Google search ranking, and to a certain extent, social media, has ruined so much of it. There are a huge number of people still blogging and not giving a damn, but many more that don’t bother because of these feelings.
Perhaps we are edging our way back towards a better social web that encourages blogging more, or perhaps this is just wishful thinking. One thing I am certain of is that a lot of blogging has been ruined already, and it will take a concerted effort from us all to build it back up again.