SEO is Killing Western Civilization

I can’t begin to describe how much I hate SEO.

SEO, or Search Engine Optimization, basically affects how high up your website appears on a list when you enter specific words into the magic box. For example, if you enter in the words “jack gorman” into Google on this, Sunday evening, March 30, 2014, this website will show up sixth on the list.

If that sounds kind of stupid to you, you’re right.

Or at least I think you are. I am totally aware that other people in the world are named Jack Gorman, and I have no problem with them coming up when I search for them (or, you know, me). What I do find somewhat irritating is that I had the foresight to grab jackgorman.com over a decade ago when I could, and yet, I can’t crack the top five when people, you know, search for the words jack and gorman at the same time.

In fact, this is the first time I’ve found myself on the front page in quite some time. Usually I fall somewhere in the early teens, just after some book on Amazon.com called “Jack Gorman Got Cut on By a Girl” (I’m not making that up).

One of the ways to improve your SEO, I like. Essentially, the larger and more content-filled your website is, the more opportunity you have for the magic algorithm to land on your site when searching the net for your search terms. So you build; add pages left and right, create a blog and post regularly. Makes sense and it’s very democratic: the more you add to your site, the better your rankings are.

What I wholly can’t stand or abide is that the Flesch Reading Ease test also determines, in a pretty big way, how well your website shows up in the search rankings. To fully underhand my annoyance, I’ll post just its scoring from Wikipedia:

Score
90.0 – 100.0 – easily understood by an average of 11-year old student
60.0 – 70.0 – easily understood by 13- to 15-year old students
0.0 – 30.0 – best understood by university graduates

Do you see what pisses me off here?

The Flesch-Kincaid Reading Ease test, a large part of your SEO, is determined by what is easily understood by an 11-year old student.

Here’s another line that gives me chills: “Polysyllabic words affect this score significantly more than they do the grade level score.”

So people who have a 7th grade reading level and don’t like big words determine the content of the Internet. While I wholly agree that people should be able to understand the mass amount of content on the Internet, today’s most important communications tool, it’s just ridiculous that Google, one of the world’s most innovative companies, pander to people whose reading level falls below that of Harry Potter and The Hunger Games.

If we’re going to continue to innovate, both as a people, a country and a civilization, we have to stop pandering to the lowest common denominator. We can do better.