I recently finished reading Mindf*ck: Cambridge Analytica and the Plot to Break America by Christopher Wylie. And now I’m currently feeling pessimistic about this whole blogging thing, and anything I write and share online in general. But I don’t want to feel this pessimistic about anything I write or publish. So, I am going to try and process it all. And as I process it all, I am wondering: can SEO-driven writing be authentic?

This is the nature of writing, after all, I suppose– occasionally taking a moment to question what the point of it (writing) is and why it matters. Maybe I’m just having a moment. Thanks in advance for bearing with me…

I am wondering, more specifically, if SEO-driven writing can be authentic, or authentic to any particular human. Essentially, I’m wondering: If we, as writers, must use certain SEO-driven keywords and write in a specific way for our blog posts and articles to be noticed in search engines, are we sacrificing elements of our authentic voice in our writing? Are we essentially aspiring to become more like robotic engines that can be “optimized” via our writing? And what effect does all of this SEO-driven writing have on us as readers and writers? On our minds and sensibilities? Essentially, what effect does it have on us as human writers and readers? Is it worth forsaking our authenticity? If that is what’s truly happening, of course.

Excerpt from Mindf*ck that has me questioning writers’ authenticity and SEO-driven writing

“People [writers] are already morphing themselves to fit a machine’s idea of who they should be. Some of us are curating ourselves on social media to increase our follower engagement, to the point that who we really are and how we present online become confused and conflated. And when those followers see enough of these curated identities, some of them begin to hate who they are…

[as] defined by something else.”

p.250 Mindf*ck: Cambridge Analytica and the Plot to Break America by Christopher Wylie, published 2019 by Random House; words in brackets added for more emphasis and context

Questions we should ask ourselves regarding SEO-driven writing as writers

  1. How much of my authentic writing voice am I sacrificing or morphing, to fit into a search engine’s standards?
  2. What do real people like me, when we aren’t curating ourselves, really want to read and write about?
  3. Are there any examples of SEO-driven writing online that are truly authentic and not only “optimized” for search engines that I regularly come across and read? Am I simply not seeing such writing because it isn’t SEO-driven writing, therefore not easily encountered or discoverable? If so, does that mean I am curating who I am following and what I am reading and writing too much?
  4. If I am curating my reading and writing so that it is mostly SEO-driven, what effect might this be having on me personally, as a human, and how I understand my world, and ultimately how I write about my world?

I don’t have a lot of answers to these questions right now. And maybe coming up with concrete answers isn’t the point, or particularly helpful right now. Perhaps simply asking ourselves regularly how SEO-driven writing affects us and drives us is what is important, if we don’t want to ever lose our authentic voices as writers.

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