God Google now demands sacrifices “in the name of SEO”

14/8/2023

SEO, the set of optimization techniques for sites to rank better in Google search results, is a kind of religion for marketers and technocrats.

The god Google writes its crooked lines, with ethereal or banal tips and blurred guidelines, which are interpreted by the prophets — the so-called “SEO experts” — and applied on websites of the faithful, in the hope that this will revert into blessings in the form of good positions in the search engine index.

It is an exercise of faith, because no one can point out, with methodological rigor, the cause and effect relationship between SEO and results.

Believers follow Google’s religious precepts and have an only option — to believe. If they work, it is the definitive proof that SEO exists. If not, the problem was that I wrote 490 words instead of 500 and repeated the keyword five times instead of four; I didn’t believe enough.

The parallel became even stronger last Wednesday (9), when Gizmodo obtained an internal memo from Cnet in which the company warned employees that it was deleting thousands of old posts to “improve SEO”. The news was confirmed to the publication by a Cnet marketing director.

Now, god Google has come to demand sacrifices as a condition to pour his kindness on click-baiting sites.

The reasoning, according to the internal memo, is that deleting old content that does not generate traffic “sends a signal to Google that says Cnet is fresh, relevant and worthy of being placed higher than our competitors in search results”.

On social media, Google refuted the strategy. This does not mean much, because Google does not reveal the ranking algorithm of its search engine and, allegedly, does not even understand it completely. Therefore, it is not possible to rule out that, even if Google discourages the practice, under specific conditions it may have a positive outcome.

Cnet, let’s remember, was caught in early 2023 publishing texts written by ChatGPT with gross errors, only to attract unwary on Google willing to click on lucrative ads for financial loans and credit cards.

The prioritization of SEO is the infamous tail that shakes the dog. Aiming at good positions in the Google search engine should not, under any circumstances, overlap with editorial decisions, let alone justify the destruction of the archive of (supposedly) journalistic outlets.

However, this is what happens when the SEO theocracy, led by Google, takes the web by storm. Technological fundamentalism, robots above human beings, people reduced to clicks on ads.

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