There's no such thing as good writing
Don't waste your time trying to please Google
At the risk of being labeled substandard, I will dispel the #1 HubPages myth. We all need something to cling to, but enough electrons have been wasted by so-called experts.
There's no such thing as good writing. Google can't tell the difference between a 6th grader and a Hemingway.
In summary: the content of a typical hub purporting to help you get more readers:
- Pick good keywords, whatever those are.
- Don't stuff keywords, but no one knows how to not do that.
- Get some backlinks, except when they are bad backlinks.
- Create some incoming links, except when you shouldn't.
- Write good.
The sad truth
Google can't tell if you're a good writer.
Good writing can't be quantified. For better or worse, 'goodness' will always be arbitrary. Goodness is qualitative. Google uses digital software to rank pages. Software can only measure quantitative things:
- Number of keywords and frequency at which they appear.
- Relative commonality of words.
- Words length, sentence length, paragraph length.
- Number of inbound and outbound links.
Google can't, and will never be able to, measure:
- imagery, and
What makes good writing?
No one knows what makes good writing. Your high school Language Arts teacher has an opinion, but so does the Fashion Editor at Time Magazine. They are both right.
Google software does not even have an opinion. It has a computed result. Sure, that computed result changes over time, but implying that digital computations somehow 'evolve' to pinpoint good writing is complete badger spit. It can't happen.
Google doesn't recognize, it defines.
To appease a software program, you must provide proper discrete inputs. Since the program cannot measure how your writing makes your readers feel, forget about ever being able to appease those inputs through your good writing.
For better or worse, we have arrived at the point of writing to appease Google rather than to attract readers. Google won't send us any readers unless it likes us: our first priority must be to calibrate keyword density, sentence length, links, placement of ads, and application of big words. Hopefully the qualitative aspects of the writing can be preserved within that framework without too much of your soul slipping away.
We are left with a writing community drifting toward a style completely unrelated to content.
We are faced with 'good writing' being completely redefined. Expect high school English teachers to meld keyword density calculations into composition classes. No Child Left Behind will soon compel metrics for identifying effective backlinks.
The worst news: we don't know what Google wants
Only Google programmers know what Google wants to crunch in its algorithms. That information is probably strategically distributed such that one rogue developer can't spill all the beans. We can only guess at proper keyword density, word complexity, sentence length, linking quotients, etc.
If Google reveals their algorithms, the playing field levels. They will never do that. All they have is their mystery. The man behind the curtain is just running a big computer program. We'd love to pay no attention to him, but there's nothing else to obsess over.
We can only guess. And we will continue guessing.
The worse worst news: it's not going to get better.
Imagine that an uber-lucky SEO geek nails the Google algorithms via trial-and-error. She identifies the perfect combination of inputs to the Google software. All her customers rocket to position #1 overnight. She dreams of Internet riches and keynote speeches at Computer Science conventions.
Tomorrow, the social engineers at Google notice her success and, by tweaking one number on one screen, change the ranking algorithm substantially. In software development-speak, a configuration parameter is modified. No programming changes are required, no press conferences are held, and the entire online writing world is turned sideways.
Google exists for the purpose of moving the target. They have no intention of settling down in a two-story brownstone in a safe neighborhood with a reliable algorithm. They will never announce to the world that their page ranking processes have been perfected.
This will never end. We will never know who the algorithms favor and who is getting slapped.
Eventually Google will bump into a competitor bigger than they. One particular organization, with lawyers and no concern for budget limitations, has a long history of pursuing computer companies engaging in so-called 'monopolistic' activities. IBM and Microsoft suffered mightily for (allegedly) attempting to control hardware and software markets. Google dominates the information market: bet on the US Government challenging the search engine industry, the tipping point coming when a Senator's wife can't get her salon ranked in the top 10. It will happen.
What can you do?
Basketball Coach Bob Knight offered relevant advice a few years ago, but we will not revisit his gaffe. Connie Chung made him pay a very high price.
All you can do is start your own search engine and put your pages at the top. In short order you'll realize the dilemma faced by Google. They are obligated to respond to constantly changing SEO strategies, market pressures, and profit margins. Can you do better?