In the mid-2000’s I spent an extraordinary amount of time reading and learning about SEO. I would spend 3 hours a day poring over what everyone was writing about (and doing very little actual testing myself). Unbeknown to myself, I was succumbing to a disease I call SEO-itis.
It’s mostly a linguistic disease. Kind of like LAW-itis.
In 2002 I quit law school. One of the things that perturbed me at the time is how “LAW-ified” my brain was becoming. I noticed myself starting to see everything around me through the lens of legal repercussions – and it terrified me. I felt like I was slowly sinking into a type of vampirism that I quite frankly didn’t want to succumb to. Everything around me was starting to look like a tort liability. I shook it off, quit, and got out.
Years later, having avoided LAW-itis succesfully, I contacted SEO-itis.
What is SEO-itis? TNW sums it up well:
Basically once you have the SEO disease, all you can think about is “how will this look to Google” and your entire language shifts away from human speak to SEO speak (at least when writing for the web).
SEO’s, Web Devs, and Internet Marketers
I got a good glimpse of the side-effects when in 2006 I got to attend both Pubcon in Vegas (which was full of SEO’s) and The Future of Web Apps in San Francisco (which was full of web 2.0 developers). The difference between these 2 groups of people were astounding. Both were filled with brilliant people. But the former was secretive, protective, and insidery (often too much so) – while the latter was open, enthusiastic, and idealistic (often too much so).
I respect a lot of people I met at both and generally dug both crowds for their own unique quirks. But there was one “other” group of people that I can’t say the same for…
In 2010 I went on an “Internet Marketers cruise” expecting to see search engine people, maybe some startup founders… While I had fun at the time – hey it was a cruise! – looking back at it, the ship was filled with online hucksters and what I call the “long form sales letter people”, just absolute dregs of the online world. Tons of people running shitty websites selling people systems, snake oil, expensive hope, and ab workouts. Mike Filsaime was on the boat. So were a Russian couple trying to sell $8,000 pseudoscientific pain management devices (he even got pissed at me when I didn’t get relief from his 5 minute “magic” box). Looking back at it, that cruise should have more aptly been called the Online Scamworld Cruise. *shudder
Anyway, back the future of 2012. I regularly have to keep reminding myself to speak human when I write now (and not give so much of a damn about getting keywords into headlines & title tags). It takes concentrated effort.
Add to that the chasm that existed for years between Google’s “write for human’s, we’ll figure it out” and the actual reality in the search game – and the consequences of it (maybe I’ll share that long story another day), I learned to do what works, not what Google said works in their land of make-belief for so many years.
Does anyone relate here to this “writing for search” disease, or am I the only one who caught this?