Monday, December 21, 2009

The threat of SEO to the real-time web

Oliver Cromwell, by Samuel Cooper (died 1672)....Image via Wikipedia
The brochure, the news report, the press release, the 'professional' communication. They all have something in common - they lack a human voice.

I have often railed against this particular form of insanity (ie when we wish to communicate with humans, so many orgs choose to do so by massaging out the humanity from their messages).

On the Internet this form of received professional speak got replaced (for a large chunk of folks, you know the ones, the 'internet marketers') by a new form of stilted inhuman syntax - writing for seo.

'Don't repeat key words more than 'x' times, do place your keywords in order 'y', don't, do, don't, do.

Don't be flawed, don't be natural. Don't write like you think, don't write like you feel. Don't be human.

And then the real-time web: Lower effort to post. Lower effort to connect. Lower barriers to revealing ourselves. Lower barriers to less guarded spontaneity. Oliver Cromwell would approve.(pictured)

As one of the founders put it: "the trouble with Twitter is that with it you run the risk of revealing the real you."

That risk is the risk you have to take if you care to connect with other humans.

It is a risk that seo drives out.

Now that google is prioritising the real time web in its returns it was inevitable that the SEO pros would wade in.

'Order your 140chars thusly', they will ordain. And I will studiously ignore them.

I am part of a real time web - a very human part. Part of the real time web (as it emerges as the eighth mass media) is its ability for us to become not only the connections, but also the way in which the connections are formed.

Focusing on seo in tweets interrupts that.

It'll fool the automota. But if you aren't worth connecting with no amount of pro-seo styled tweeting will mask this to the humans behind the accounts.

In the old world of site-as-destination there was value in 'driving traffic'. In the new world of user-as-destination the only value is in creating real, enduring human connection.

Only humans, expressing themselves through authentic human voice, can do this.

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The rate of change is so rapid it's difficult for one person to keep up to speed. Let's pool our thoughts, share our reactions and, who knows, even reach some shared conclusions worth arriving at?