I started reading a new work-related book yesterday on the topic of Search Engine Optimization (SEO). The book’s author is highly successful; the book came recommended. Just a few pages into it, though, I was discouraged enough to put it down.
It really started in the third sentence, when the author writes about words, saying : “Spoken effectively, and they can build mighty empires….”
And in the fourth sentence: “Before the ink pen, printing press, typewriter and the Internet came along,….”
What other kind of pen is there? And why the extra “the” before Internet? And how odd the book’s using AP style, with no serial commas (though later, of course, serial commas do occasionally appear).
Why in the next couple paragraphs does it mention “13 billion pages” but spell out “twelve to fourteen years”?
The book’s introduction goes on to explain how the author got involved in SEO and how he just loves writing. In fact, he says, “The one thing I knew I could do and do as well as the best out there, was write.”
Who am I to disagree? After all, the book is published. People like me are buying it. The author has a successful writing business. And it doesn’t seem to matter one whit that the book is poorly edited and grammatical errors can be found on nearly every page (at least the 15 pages I’ve made it through).
Clearly, what I would have done (dotted every i and crossed every t) and what I bring to the table for my clients (good writing that’s also technically correct) isn’t the key. People are buying this book for the information it imparts about SEO, and maybe the average reader wouldn’t even notice the issues that bother me so much.
So, does what I do really matter?
Does what any “creative professional” does really matter? The graphic designer who brings order and elegance to information? The photographer who fusses over lighting and composition? The layout specialist concerned with kerning and leading and line breaks?
Clearly, creative professionals think it does. But the majority of the world? I’m not so sure.
Will a Web page get more hits if its beautifully designed and edited, or does it only matter that it has a big button “Click Here for Something Free!” or some metatags somewhere?
Painful though it will be, I plan to plow through my SEO book and see. In my head though, and maybe even with my “ink pen,” I’ll be proofreading and editing every step of the way. Because, paycheck aside, what I do at least has to matter to me.
Same for you?
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The books I haven’t written are better than the books other people have.
~ Cyril Connolly