Three Dirty Letters

“Beetle kill pine.”

Get your head out of the gutter. I mean three letters of alphabet: S, E and O. Now I have nothing against search engine optimization; if done properly and in a way that legitimately reflects what’s on one’s website, and honestly supports the mission of the content you publish, then sure – optimize away.

But whenever I hear those three letters, I cringe. And some things in particular make me reflexively shudder (one of which is pictured above…though actually, at a relatively far remove, it made me both laugh and shudder simultaneously).

A company for which I used to work had always been big on SEO (which is reasonable) – but a few years after the SEO bandwagon first rolled into town, they hired a “team” of “experts” that (among other SEO-related things) made spreadsheets of the top internet “keywords” and phrases searched for all the fields in which said company had an interest. Then that team dictated the various “communities” write content that included said words – never mind if it wasn’t the kind of content that community typically wrote. The internet had spoken.

I’m pretty sure were I to get that list shoved down my throat now, I’d have “epoxy pour” running through my waking nightmares. At the time, it was “beetle kill pine” (followed closely by “whelping box”) atop the list of things about which I refused to write. It simply didn’t fit with any of the content we were producing…or that I thought we should produce. (In hindsight, I’m surprised I didn’t get shown the door sooner…)

But today, I actually found some blue-stained pine. So: “We’ll use beetle kill pine backboards in a weekend woodworking class on making a bookcase.”

That ought to move me right up the list at Google! (I even got it within the first 250 words – barely.)

But that probably doesn’t work anymore, so here’s a cat video:

P.S. The most maddening edict along these lines of which I heard was to a community in which I didn’t work: spell Stephen King as Steven King. I still can’t laugh at that one.

About fitz

Woodworker, writer, editor, teacher, ailurophile, Shakespearean. Will write for air-dried walnut.
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13 Responses to Three Dirty Letters

  1. Marc Stonestreet says:

    “Hair pin legs”, followed by “how to tie a noose”.

  2. Woodworkers who do a lot of Woodworking love to Recycle ideas from Pallet Wood. My friend Anne, who is a master of All Trades and her husband Ted had neighbors Chip and Joanna in which they Built a Live Edge Epoxy Poured Coffee Table from a Slab of Wood.

    Just doing my part to help- Mike

  3. potomacker says:

    is Beetle Kill Pine a marketing term? I call this feature blue stain fungus. Am I again unaware of a loop that I am out of?

  4. Lory Henning says:

    Bahahahaha! Brilliant.

    I’ll throw in an “open concept” just to try to add an extra little boost.

  5. BLZeebub says:

    Viola is a hoot! SEO is anathema to good wordage. LOL Technical marketing is the bleeding edge of all things pablum in cyberspace and the world at-large. Ever since the advent of farce I mean focus groups, marketing and advertising lost its soul to metrics. By extension, publishing as an art form is now in the hands of folks like you and the Schwarz. Good hands too. BTW, I’ve allowed my sub to your former employer’s rag to lapse. I never developed a taste for pablum.

  6. While, living in Colorado saw some of the blue tinged lumber cause by the beetle kill devastating its Woodlands. I’m in favor of using what nature produces and not letting it go to waste. Take advantage of what’s offered to you by nature. There’s some beautiful work ripe for creating. Don’t let your creative chance pass you by.


    Mike Woodward

  7. guadfly says:

    Lets not make great content and let it stand on its own merit, let’s hire consultants to trick people in to our content. Give that man a promotion. I’m glad you got out Megan, not because I wanted that to happen to you, but because I think you do more good for our community free from constraint.

  8. Katie says:

    I’m so glad to have found your blog! I can’t believe it’s taken me so long. I feel the same way on the SEO stuff. I cringe whenever someone asks if that’s what I do as a marketer, and file it right under “Did you go to college to learn how to take photos?”

  9. tsstahl says:

    Don’t be afraid of the new buzzword: SEX. Search Engine Crossover (SEC being already taken) is the art of optimizing for different cultures AND different search providers. You have to SEX for China, SEX for America, and SEX every niche in between.

    The really funny part is, I just made that up, but probably really exists as part of SEO.

  10. Jay says:

    I feel your pain. I currently work for a B2B magazine (not wood related) and we have a team of “experts” that direct us on how we need to improve our SEO pretty much every day. It’s amazing how quickly SEO changes (almost on an hour-by-hour basis). It’s like they are just saying it to keep their jobs…. or maybe I am just cynical.

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