June 06, 2014

The insatiable, never-ending burden of SEO

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Another day, another meta description

This may come as an enormous surprise to you, the reader, but here at Contactually we engage in what is known as SEARCH ENGINE OPTIMIZATION. That's right -- Google didn't point you to us by accident; we're playing the system just like everyone else. We want to be found!

Now, don't get all upset. Legitimate SEO is no more controversial than labeling the food in your company fridge, or marking a highway exit. The advice we get is almost entirely related to providing accurate, appropriately placed labels and metadata with content like this here blog post, or this stock photo of a woman eating a salad.

The highest form of stock photography.

Boy, she sure seems happy. Anyways, the point is, none of this stuff is clever, or creative, or even all that interesting -- and it's certainly not sinister. More or less, it's internet logistics that, if you're in the business of creating content that people are supposed to find, you have to take care of as part of your job. For instance, let's look at what I had to do to add the salad lady.

[caption id="attachment_4673" align="alignnone" width="662"] This is like doing my taxes except I don't get a refund when I finish.[/caption]

Guhhhhh... more fields to fill out. Let's see, I'll make the title "Rihanna", the alt tag "Game of Thrones"...

I'm kidding -- we don't do that. In fact, that's what makes it so hard! I have to come up with a relevant, optimized description of this woman eating a salad alone, and then fit it into a title and an alt tag, just like I do for every other image I post, including the image of the settings for an image of a woman eating a salad alone that you're looking at right now. Plus, I have to do that for each post, and add meta descriptions and other things.

It's not really that hard, so much as it's just annoying and uninteresting, and in the end, all I've done is keep the machine fed for another day, at the expense of time and energy I should probably be spending on helping people understand Contactually. Remind you of anything?

How about follow-ups? One of my favorite things about Contactually is that it takes something endless, often thankless, and totally necessary -- regular follow-ups -- and compresses the entire process into something as simple and hard-to-screw-up as possible. In many cases, I don't have to figure out who to contact, what to say, or how to spell anyone's name. And in the cases where I DO want to reach out in an extremely personalized, one-off way, that's no problem either.

I really, really wish SEO worked like that.

Yes, these kind of things always require SOME amount of work -- but whereas follow-ups with Contactually feels like an ongoing project I get better at over time, SEO is just me, grinding away for all eternity just because I feel like I should.

I shouldn't have to think this much about SEO. Where's the system that keeps me from having to? Suggestions are extremely welcome.