Was It Google or SEO That Undermined the Internet?

April 22, 2020

If you are searching for a Web designer position, the job description will most likely contain the term “familiar with SEO.” SEO stands for “search engine optimization” and it uses keywords in original content to drive traffic to a Web site and make it appear at the top of search results. SEO makes the World Wide Web go round, but Super Highway 98 tells, “How SEO Ruined The Internet.”

Super Highway 98 is a nostalgic Web site that glorifies the early days off the Internet—back in the 1990s when dialup was still needed to surf. The article explains that from 1998-2003, Google was a magical experience. Nowadays, SEO technicians modify hyperlinks and headings to optimize them for search engines. In essence, they are rewriting history, instead of archiving the past:

“ ‘Content pruning’ is an effective SEO tactic on large, established websites. Rather that archiving old content with historical significance, many websites will delete it from their servers and return a 410 status code. Gone. The goal is to optimize “crawl budget,” keeping Google focused on the content that matters now. The result is a web without institutional memory or accountability.”

Today’s Internet hosts “the illusion of choice,” because many Web sites (especially review sites) are owned by the same company and content is specifically scripted for best SEO practices. Content needs to be breaking news and drive up Web traffic. Links are Internet currency. The biggest players usually do not link to other sites to keep users on their own pages.

Not for the foreseeable future. Money is more important than delivering objectionable, comprehensive, user tracking free services.

Whitney Grace, April 22, 2020

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