Google. Writing for ‘Bots.’ What’s that, one may ask? It’s a new breed, or half breed, or hybrid breed, well, it’s an alternative breed at the least, of a writer.
The times are a changing. A new publishing house has steamrolled onto the scene. The house is called Google and its employees are called Googlebots, or bots for short. It’s quite the house and it’s taking over. Just a short while ago, writers far and wide rejoiced at the notion of bypassing publishers and bricks and mortar bookstores and finding freedom. A new era was dawning, an era where the field was leveled and five percent royalties were a nightmare from the past. Shipping costs disappeared overnight, as did printing costs, and other inconveniences such as customs brokers and damaged or wet produce were dismissed as old school.
The future looked bright. It was logistically simple. Yes, there were still small matters of grammar, punctuation, and structure to take care of, and matters of uppercase, lowercase, titlecase, case, case, case. With the internet came freedom; 200,000 word books full of creativity zipped into a tablet. It was a dream come true.
The future looked bright.
Then came the bots. The Google bots.
At first there was some confusion. The confusion was followed by concern, then frustration. Performance was measured and it told a story of disparity. The pages looked the same on the surface, but they were not. There was only one conclusion; Google could think, well, in computer terms at any rate. Words like algorithm, meta tag, and keyword started to surface. At first they were a rumor, but then the evidence manifested itself on webpages. Orders and rankings were beginning to form and then the word leaked out. Someone from Google let the cat out of the bag and a new order was cast upon us.
They had bots!
Little bots, millions of them that scoured the internet devouring everything in sight. They scoured regardless of the hour and looked for clues. They sniffed out those keywords and meta tags like pigs to truffles, and when they found them, they took them home to Google and arranged them in order. The ranking had commenced.
With the ranking came theories. If the bots came every night, maybe they could be bribed; a dollar under the pillow for the tooth fairy sort of bribe. Maybe if certain words were left out in the open, a higher ranking could be attained. Worth a try…and it worked!
Ways were found to bribe the bot. A new language was created and experiments conducted to find the bot’s achilles’ heel. As the experiments played out, more and more tweaks to writing style were required to keep the bot happy. Keywords and titles took on new significance as links were needed throughout, and the more the better. Keyword density came to the fore and keyword placement grew in significance, so much so that the bots began to take the lead. The noose was being tightened. The bright future of yesterday was being corralled by invisible bots that tweaked a person’s writing style to suit their needs. What did they care? They were bots!
They say there’s a price to be paid for freedom. At Google, it’s called writing for bots.
Satire by Scott Wilson