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Are Monetization and Search Engine Optimization Ruining The Web?

Posted on October 12, 2023 by Jeff Pollard

The web has certainly evolved since its early days as a rudimentary platform for scientists to share information. However, as its popularity has grown and its use has become ubiquitous in everyday life, it has increasingly become a cesspool of websites trying to “game the SEO system” with bloated, low-quality content and pop-up ads.

I know I sound like an old guy screaming at the clouds and claiming, “Things ain’t as good as they used to be!” But hear me out. I strongly believe that the gamification of the search engines and monetization of the internet has led to a lower quality user experience. In other words, it’s becoming more and more difficult to find good quality information without first wading through misleading headlines, inauthentic content, and ads. Here are a few examples of how things are getting worse:

Clickbait Headlines

Go to any news site and you’ll easily be able to pick out many “clickbaity” headlines. These sensationalized titles grab users’ attention with exaggerated or misleading claims, only to lead them to content that falls short of their expectations. It’s a frustrating experience that leaves users feeling deceived and dissatisfied, ultimately undermining the quality of the internet as a reliable source of information and entertainment.

Content Quantity Over Quality

In the race to dominate search engine rankings, many websites have fallen into the trap of prioritizing quantity over quality when it comes to content creation. The pressure to churn out a high volume of content to target a wide array of keywords has led to a flood of shallow, uninformative, and, at times, irrelevant content. This approach not only undermines the integrity of the information available on the internet but also diminishes the user experience. Users are bombarded with an overwhelming amount of content, making it increasingly challenging to find genuinely valuable and informative articles. It’s a trend that discourages in-depth research, thoughtful analysis, and well-crafted pieces in favor of quick, often hasty, content production – a detriment to both content creators and the audience seeking meaningful information.

User Experience Sacrifices

The relentless pursuit of monetization and search engine optimization has also come at the expense of user experience. Websites, in their eagerness to climb search engine rankings, may overload their pages with advertisements, pop-ups, and distracting elements. These cluttered layouts make it challenging for users to navigate smoothly, leading to frustration and a less enjoyable browsing experience. Additionally, the emphasis on search engine optimization can sometimes result in content that feels manufactured, with a focus on hitting keyword quotas rather than genuinely addressing user needs. Ultimately, sacrificing user experience for the sake of search engine optimization can drive visitors away, negating the original purpose of creating the content.

What Can We Do?

What can we do to reverse this trend? First, I think it is crucial to remember who we’re creating our content for: website visitors – not the robots. When creating content and making decisions for your site, take a moment to consider whether your website visitors – or you – will truly benefit from what you’re creating.

And lastly, my biggest advice is: Don’t try so hard. Many years ago, Google’s advice to content creators was basically, “Don’t try so hard to rank well on Google Search. Just create good quality and engaging content and make your site easy to use, accessible, and authentic. If you do all of those things, Google’s algorithm will ultimately reward your site with a respectable ranking.” I think that statement is still mostly true today and is our guiding principle when creating website content for our clients.

If you’d like our help with creating quality content or making your website perform better in search rankings, use the form below to contact us.

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About the author:

Jeff Pollard

Partner, Director of Technology

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Jeff is one of Torx's founding partners and serves as the agency's Director of Technology. He built his first website back in 1996 and has never looked back. Jeff wears many hats at Torx: front-end designer and developer, server administrator, and resident Apple enthusiast.