Have you ever read an online article chock-full of backlinks? It’s super fun.
You know, say you’re looking up a way to oh, smoke meat.
Or apologize to your wife for forgetting to roll the recycling bin to the curb and the truck that dumps it all into the ocean has already come and gone.
Or how to make moonshine.
And your internet search leads you to all these articles that walk, talk, and smell like articles (articles smell like fresh cut grass) but something seems awry with them, something sinister, and your head starts spinning and you feel nauseous and the cops start pounding on your door based on the meat/recycling/moonshine sequence of your search criteria and you left the window in the kitchen open last night so what if a wombat got in your house and…
Ahem, or, more on topic, you’re looking up Google’s new SEO best practices for work (ironically on Google because you forget to use Duckduckgo so now your personal information is once again stored/tracked/shared), or perhaps you’re just searching for the definition of backlinks so you sound like you know what you’re doing and will thus stay employed.
Through these search efforts you’ll likely behold awkwardly written articles full of blue clickable words that lead you to (sigh) other (sigh) articles (sigh) written by (sigh) the same (sigh) writer (sigh) or at least (sigh) the same (sigh) publication (sigh) or located elsewhere (sigh) on the same (sigh) website.
You’ve stumbled on the detritus of the internet. Organizations use internal marketing teams (or external marketing agencies) to doggedly backlink their website to other websites in an effort fool Google’s search algorithm into giving them a high search ranking. But structural changes to the open web and open search make the future less commercially interesting in many ways (Seth Godin wrote that last bit, not me).
Isn’t this weird? It’s weird. There are entire categories of employment dedicated to increasing the percentage chance of an organization achieving top rankings through organic search, all the while organic search is going away because paid search (i.e. paid advertising) is more profitable. For The Google.
Little mice frenetically clicking away trying to control something that in the long term is uncontrollable unless one has access to Fortune 500 marketing budgets. And even with that kind of budget, what is being created for the user? Is it exciting and interesting? Is it engaging? Is it speaking to their need, want or desire? Is it providing hope and an idea of how to make change to make things better?
Rather than contributing to the internet-equivalent of a giant island of plastic floating in the Pacific Ocean, make something great. Then craft your story and find the right people to tell it to so they spread the word.
Then worry about your search ranking.