Confessions of a professional clickbait writer

Confessions of a professional clickbait writer

If you’ve Googled anything related to the ketogenic diet, preparing your student for college, medical billing for health care providers, cloud computing for small businesses, or how the industrial Internet of things affects farming — among a dozen other topics — there’s a solid chance you’ve read my work.

I’d like to tell you it’s because I’m a fine writer with a wide array of interests. But the real reason I have hundreds of thousands of readers a month is search engine optimization. SEO is a series of strategies for ranking higher in all search engines, especially Google, which captures around 86 percent of all Internet searches . I spend my days writing optimized blog articles that feature short paragraphs and less sophisticated wording — proven SEO winners — to help my clients appear at the top of search results.

I had no clue what SEO was when I was hired by a Silicon Valley health startup in 2018. But it wasn’t long before I understood the value of ranking higher in search engines.

Approximately 75 percent of clicks go to the top three results on search engines. To put that into context, I run a college-student tips website with one of the top-ranking articles for the question “How much do college students spend on food?” In 2019, my article was the number one search result for that query. That year, 35,339 people read it . In 2021, my article dropped to the bottom of page one, where it hovered between spots eight and 10. The page received only 8,470 views last year, a 76 percent decline.

If I sold a product or service through my website, dropping even eight spots on Google would have lost me 26,869 potential new customers. I’ve seen search engine updates affect a company’s search rankings so much that they effectively destroyed a five-figure monthly online business overnight.

Today, more businesses than ever before rely heavily on SEO to get their products in front of new eyes. Because it’s viewed as a long-term growth strategy, companies are investing more resources than ever in SEO. Here’s why this is troubling: Companies that have access to expensive SEO artificial intelligence tools and the funds to pay freelance writers often outcompete true experts who lack such resources. It’s a numbers game: The more an entity is willing to spend, the greater the likelihood that its information — accurate or not — ends up at the top of search engines. Ask yourself: How often do you look for the answer you seek on the second page — or even the bottom of the first page — of search results?

Access to the top of page one on Google, like life in many of America’s cities, is becoming less affordable every day. The artifice of SEO

Being an SEO writer is an exercise in imagination. I’m a city dweller who’s never owned a home, yet I pay my rent by writing home improvement articles. I once wrote a Christian book review right after writing […]

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