Writing Challenge: Search Engine Optimized
"Search engine optimization (SEO) is the process of affecting the online visibility of a website or a web page in a web search engine"
If you do anything online you've likely heard of SEO. If you are a blogger then are likely intimately acquainted with the concept.
In it's most simple form SEO would involve including certain words or phrases in your content such that you appear in Google (or Bing, Yahoo etc..) more frequently. This is why so many blog titles and website content looks and feels the same.
"Top 10 reasons you feel <insert key phrase>"
"How to tell if you are <insert key phrase>"
"Why you should never <insert key phrase>"
Just replace <insert key phrase> here in the above examples with commonly searched phrases and you will start featuring in Google results.
There's more to it than that, in fact many books have even been written on the subject, but that's all you need to know for this post.
People use SEO quite cynically these days. They sacrifice their content for the sake of getting views. Clickbait and keywords - that's the modern internet. Focus on getting traffic to the site, doesn't matter what the user actually sees because once the ads load you've got your revenue.
Anyway - I dislike this approach to blogging. It's a necessary evil sure, but I don't like the idea of compromising on my writing for the sake of scoring higher in a search engine. I decided instead to do a little SEO based writing challenge.
I took the top 100 search phrases from 2018 (excluding companies/brands) and tried to make a single coherent story out of them. Here are the rules:
Use every one of the top 100 searches
One search phrase per sentence (I had to bend this rule once)
The story should make some sort of sense
You cannot just use dialogue to use up keywords - there needs to be some story telling there
I got the top 100 keywords here and have marked them in bold in the story below.
So without further ado, here it is.
The Story: Time hunter
"If this weather doesn't hold up I'm gonna be in trouble," I thought to myself. This place was not covered by any maps and even more treacherous than I had anticipated. First of all, to just find my bearings I had to superimpose different maps over each other and translate locations precisely based on coordinates I had found online. According to my calculator the odds of successful locating my target sat at around 8.6%.
'Christ, this sounds awful,' I think to myself as the songs I had obtained using my Youtube to mp3 converter assault my ears.
I turn the music off and decide instead to focus on the plan I had set in motion just days ago with an online speed test. My internet connection looked good and if I've calculated everything correctly then every major news network in the country would have my video by dinner time today. It's not the most polished video production I'll admit, but thanks to my thesaurus it should at least sound competent.
I reckon it should be enough to bump tonight's Powerball draw. Hell, it might even get a tweet from the man himself, Donald Trump. After all, every day concerns like what's going on in the NFL or whether you've won millions in the lottery don't really matter if tomorrow never comes.
I signed the letter with the initials 'G' and 'F' for Georgie Fullman, the genius that had shown me this path, though I'd imagine it won't take the FBI long to figure out who I am. There are enough clues in there to form a sort of periodic table of the elements of my identity, but that is of little consequence. By the time they figure it out they will have already had to face the consequences of my actions. For them this will be like arriving at the Olympics without knowing they were participating.
My phone vibrates in my pocket, it's an automated alert that I had hooked up to that internet speed test telling me that everything was still on track. Nothing to do but press on into the abyss, to a land that your map can't find. Georgie had done some 'cool math' (his words) to locate three points, three possible places of convergence. The man was a dictionary of the complex components of reality. "This time 'y' marks the spot," he told me, "You have to think in higher planes."
My phone vibrates again, this time it's a timer; ten minutes to go, ten minutes until the world finds out. On the screen I also see a game called Happy Wheels. Beside it is another one called Slitherio; both past addictions that dissolved once I fully understood what Georgie had been trying so hard to show me. To think of the hours I wasted playing Overwatch. The many nights that I traded sleep for League of Legends.
I put the phone away and wonder to myself if there are any restaurants near me. There aren't of course, but my calendar has been so packed with the prep work for today that I've barely eaten all week. Fasting for this long, coupled with a trek through the wilderness and you discover something about yourself. It's hard to describe, but it's definitely not like anything you've ever seen in the movies.
The experience has been kind of like Hilary Clinton's presidential campaign; a meandering confused mess. Though in the end it will be more like Game of Thrones; lots of people are guaranteed to die. I had actually done a quick search for cheap flights before setting out, such was my trepidation, but this is my burden, something I must do for Georgie.
I need some music to focus, an 'animal jam' (as my friend who is part inner city Dublin part hippie might say) to help clear my mind of apprehension.
No more games, that life, my life, is gone forever. Early commutes and social media, overdue bills and a mortgage calculator dependency. That bus driver who looked like Bernie Sanders. Days spent transcribing research notes from Spanish to English for no money and about as much gratitude. Mine was a life wasted one evening at a time consuming mindless light entertainment.
I now see all of that stuff as a sort of noxious goo, a distraction from this new understanding of reality I've been exposed to. The one exception being my Youtube music playlist, I'd lose my mind without music. It helps me think, a translator of sorts for my thoughts.
I let out a little chuckle, "James, Rick and Morty were right." During a recent rant about the inadequacy of the Spotify web player James turned to me and said: "You're mind will get the better of you long before the elements, but that's not to say the elements can't get you." The rest agreed with him and booked flights out of the country soon after that conversation. I'm not sure where they ended up going but I did find an English to Spanish dictionary in the lab before I left, so it's one of a handful of countries.
I'm getting close now, so close that the IRS (Incandescent Relativity Spectrometer) will start detecting anomalous background radiation fluctuations shortly. It's a piece of tech like something out of Star Wars, invented by Georgie and understood by no one but him. Though it was a group people that called themselves the FA (Fundamental Actualists) that coined the term. They have dedicated themselves to exploring and understanding Georgie's work, particularly his 'deadpool' theory.
A 'deadpool' is a place where clumps of matter and anti-matter can temporarily come together and bend the very laws of physics.
As far as 'cults' go, they could do a lot worse than following Georgie, a brilliant but humble man with distaste for sports. He was an unassuming millionaire who made his fortune on bitcoin and then pumped it all back into developing the technology behind this IRS that I was now carrying on my back. He then shared the design of the device freely, saying 'What is my IP? Nothing - intellect should be shared not owned,' referring to the concept of Intellectual Property, a concept he despised.
He was a prodigy and only the truly gifted ones do such things.
He was also funny, referring to his colleagues as the 'suicide squad' since their work would, in his words, 'undoubtedly result in the death of them all'. How right he was, the official story being that he was killed in a freak accident during Hurricane Irma, but we all know the government had been watching him. He would happily die for his work though and took no interest in matters of the masses - the man wouldn't have been able to pick Taylor Swift out of a line up. He wouldn't have even managed Melania Trump, and she is the first lady!
All he ever wanted was to go about his business and share his vast knowledge.
He was the kind of man that you could wish happy birthday on any day of the year and he'd say 'Oh, is it my birthday today? Oh well.'
The kind of man who built his own weather radar because he could do it better than those 'government drones'.
The kind of man that could see tomorrows bitcoin price, not todays’, because of his deep understanding of how the world works, of how we work.
One of the last things he ever said to me was "I'm going to miss restaurants, you know that? We take them for granted." That was in an email he sent me a week before he died (/was murdered). "I will of course need someone to look after Wonder Woman and The Avengers," he followed up, referring to his pet cat and his six Newts. He knew exactly what was coming but seemed remarkably calm, closing off the message nonchalantly with:
I'm afraid I didn't manage to finish that Youtube converter you had asked about, but I've attached the code so you can finish it off yourself. This must be what it's like to defect from North Korea, I guess our government is just as bad... See you on the other side.
I had been charged with and accepted the challenge of finding '192.168.1.1' and I was determined to get there ("192.168.1.1" was our pet name for a deadpool, also known as ‘The Gateway’, a nerdy inside joke that computer people will get).
The sun is beginning to set, which is good for me, the cosmic nexus becomes more stable as fewer photons pass through it. Regardless of that fact this whole thing was still like a cosmic game of solitaire and the cards would need to align perfectly for me.
At least that's what I understood from the mountain of research papers, all in MLA format of course, I had consumed before setting out. Georgie being Georgie even followed APA citation despite not intending to ever publish his work in the 'mainstream'.
In my backpack a metal box with 'Carrie Fisher' scratched on the side (when I asked about this he simply responded 'because we'll use it to save the princess,' with a wry smile) has started to hum. It's only audible now that there are no other sounds around for it to contend with.
'Time for a whiskey,' I think to myself, 'I've earned it, and tis the season after all, not that seasons will be a thing for much longer'. I figure a few swigs from my hip flask won't impair my ability to follow the directions for operating the IRS. 'S for Simple,' he had always said - 'keep things simple and they tend to work out ok'. It's the same reason he preferred personally delivered mail over email more often than not, though justified paranoia may have played a part there too. Either way, my focus is more on is 'M' for mankind, as in what will become of it after I'm finished?
I check the screen on my MP3 player and see the name Ariana Grande. I've no idea who that is or how her music ended up in my library, but it doesn't matter - stranger things have happened and will soon be the norm. Time will fold in on itself such that tomorrow's powerball winning numbers will be released yesterday. The town of Salem with resume burning witches. The NFL schedule will include every game ever played, played every minute of every day.
'Selena Gomez' is up next, 'what the hell is this crap,' I wonder, 'how has pop music managed to get even worse.' Get me driving directions to the nearest dingy rock bar and I'm there.
Better music fidelity aside, the one thing I do regret is not bringing something to eat, a last supper of sorts, but there's not a morsel of food near me. What is about to unfold would also make for some great clips online, content actually worth watching, but I don't have a decent camera either, or someone to film it for that matter.
That's not important right now though, I've finally arrived at the 'c' shaped crevasse the FA had told me about, the 'y' that Georgie said marks the spot. I reach into my bag and pull out the IRS, a device so complex it makes the Youtube downloader I struggled to complete seem like a two piece jigsaw puzzle. A sudden chill cuts through the air, through my bones, but it's a nice feeling, like standing on a podium at the Winter Olympics.
"Here's to the future, the past and the present" I say as I open the box and begin fiddling with the many controls, "and to every poor oblivious animal on this planet, the walking dead."
The hum of the box is getting louder now as a sort of incandescent portal appears before me; through it I see images of a creature that looks something like a black panther, no, it's a cat, my cat... From when I was five years old. The world around me seems to shift and sway as the portal expands and shows me an image of myself, but it's five years ago and I'm sitting at my old computer babysitting an iTunes download. It continues to swirl and grow, showing me an image of myself from two days ago organizing my Youtube mp3 collection.
The window is becoming murkier now, the image shifts once again, this time I see myself watching myself through the window, but I'm disintegrating, becoming part of the window, the swirling vortex; I am becoming one with infinity, a prince of time, a thread in the fabric, an evolution of consciousness...