I’ve been an online freelance writer for about 8 years, on and off. Growing up, I always had an interest in reading, and read voraciously. I got a B1 in my English leaving cert examination and proceeded to study law in university. While there, I started to write legal essays for undergraduates to get some extra cash.
Now, for all of its flaws, the legal system does have a high standard of English. The laws need to be long and complex so nobody can understand them, driving up the need for legal professionals, and ensuring that the people who draft the laws can remain in the shadows.
The problems arose when I started SEO writing, after graduating from university and realizing the foolishness of the entire legal paradigm. For those who don’t understand, SEO stands for ‘Search Engine Optimization’. SEO means writing English is a way that best suits Google. Google issues draft guidelines to make content ‘readable’ for humans. Sounds like quite a noble endeavor, right? Reward web pages that conform to the guidelines, which guarantees a better user experience for everyone?
Unfortunately, no. Whereas the legal arena strives to be needlessly complex and wordy, Google strives to reduce the English language to 1s and 0s.
As somebody with a high standard of English, I can tell you that if you read too many online articles, your standard of English will decline. And so will your IQ. All online content is designed so that it is ‘easier’ for you to read. Bullet Points. Images. Headings. Short sentences. Simple, easily understood words. Transition words. It’s like it’s being designed for children who need visuals and two syllable words. The Google mantra is basically to make the content as stupid as possible so a monkey can understand.
If your IQ is greater than that of a monkey, then every time you read one of these highly ranked articles, your standard of English is on the decline. Because Google rewards mediocrity in terms of content. If you read then consistently, then you might even be fooled into thinking that this constitutes ‘Good English’, and start to write in a similar fashion. But what you read and how you write affects how you think. And Google is setting the bar quite low.
On a far more machiavellian note, do you think that humans are the ones who are training AI? Tell that to Google. It now sets the standards for the English language, and getting everybody to write in simple English instead of poetic metaphors and subtle allegations makes everything a whole lot easier. For Google, that is, as it continues to optimize its voice search and AI capabilities, which thrives on simple, clean, non-ambiguous English.
This is what technology does. It disempowers people in a huge way, a form of hypnosis. It makes people less intelligent. So make sure to ignore the Google guidelines as much as possible.
Writing is a function of your thought patterns. Let nobody dictate your thought, vocal, or written expressions.
Take your power back from the machines.
Write, read, think, and act as you see fit.