Is SEO the antithesis of journalism and storytelling?

9 Comments

There’s probably few, if any, folks who visit Consider The Sauce who are unaware what SEO is an acronym for.

But just in case … it stands for Search Engine Optimisation.

It’s a term I’d rarely come across before launching this site.

In the two-something years since, I’ve read quite a lot about SEO and related topics.

But I’m not much further ahead in understanding what it is.

Let alone how it works.

The crux of the matter appears to be what are referred to as “key words”, the skilful inclusion of which in a post can increase the regard Google and other search engines hold a post or website/blog.

The internet is awash with “SEO experts” spruiking their services.

There are those who will tell you it’s a science.

There are as many more who will tell you it’s all hooha and voodoo – and that those claiming they’re party to the most significant SEO methods and secrets are full of it.

Early on in the piece, on a discussion thread on a food blogger Facebook page, I opined that SEO must have its place but that as far as I could see it had little to do with me or Consider The Sauce.

A much more experienced blogger than I, then and now, set me right about that.

SEO counts, he maintained, and it was very relevant to me.

Well, of course I want Google to love me and my blog!

But I still have difficulty with idea of inserting “key words” into a story – having never quite made it to the execution stage.

I suspect a significant part of that is that unlike most bloggers and other online operators, I have been a writer and a journalist for almost all my life.

Consequently, for me it’s all about the STORY.

After Bennie and I have hit some likely haven of foodiness and we’re driving home, I’m already writing the story in my mind.

By the time I’ve uploaded the photos and am in the process of resizing and/or cropping them, it’s pretty much a done deal – right down to individual paragraphs and sentences. And even the punctuation.

All that is left is to type it in.

By contrast, the businesses and websites for whom SEO seems most important seem to have mostly commercial purposes.

I’m immensely gratified by the success Consider The Sauce has enjoyed to date, and am certainly wishing for much more.

But I’m not selling anything except myself – in the spirit of “a blog is the new resume”.

For that same reason, I also struggle to mentally connect with a lot that is written and talked about at places such as Problogger and other forums and websites where blogging, SEO and myriad related topics are discussed.

While much of the advice and information is valuable, enlightening and inspiring, I simply can’t relate to “sales”.

It’s difficult to think about such an arcane – to me – subject as SEO when I’m so preoccupied about that all-important lead paragraph, a snappy ending and which photo has the most sparkle and interest to earn its place at the top of the next story.

I’m sure a lot of Consider The Sauce “key words” – for example Melbourne, western suburbs, cheap eats, Footscray, Yarraville and so on – make it into my stories anyway.

But that is an entirely organic outcome of my writing and its focus.

I suspect deliberately using “key words” is something that will elude my grasp for some time yet!

Call me old-school (or worse!), but a lifetime of habit and training ALWAYS has me thinking “story” rather than “post” or “blog”.

And I write stories for people – not search engines.

9 thoughts on “Is SEO the antithesis of journalism and storytelling?

  1. That’s a thought-provoking piece. I don’t know much about SEO either, but it’s interesting. As “old school” journos, Kenny, we did not like to mix advertising/marketing with editorial. But I guess in these postmodern times, we could rethink it.
    Although I agree that it’s good to think of the story first, a lone blogger is, in effect, her/his own brand, so has to be his/her own marketing person as well.
    It would be interesting to look into SEO methods more deeply. I don’t know what I’d do for my blog!
    I did read a story about people inserting provocative pictures or words into their blogs or something, to get more traffic. But it’s hazy and I can’t remember the details. And I don’t think I’d want that sort of traffic anyway.
    Cheers, and thanks for an interesting post.

    • Hi Caron! Good point about “a lone blogger is, in effect, her/his own brand, so has to be his/her own marketing person as well”. Trouble is, I seem to be stuck with the old-school journalism equivalent of “muscle memory”!

  2. Kenny, I broadly work in marketing and the so-called “SEO experts” that I’ve come across are nowt more than charlatans. Someone I used to be very friendly with is now a millionaire (apparently) because of a popular series of seminars he gives, where he teaches people to set up a network of websites that point to a central site as a way of optimising their google search and – yes – their sales. As someone who believes in more old-fashioned kinds of persuasion it all sounds a bit fishy to me.

      • Not so much smoke and mirrors but the benefit of experience. I knew this guy very well and he was a supreme gilder of the truth. All I’ve got to go on are his Internet testimonials where – of course – he claims to have gotten rich quick using SEO.

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