How Google Algorithms are Bringing About the Death of the Author
In the modern era, brand visibility is the equivalent of profits. The biggest brands in the world today built their profits by getting the word out. The broad reasoning for this is that software, in particular social media, is difficult to patent but easy to copy. At the forefront of today’s marketing is Search Engine Optimization. Businesses know that being in the top ten of a Google search can turn a start-up company into a household name over night. The so-called ‘top ten’ is a promised land of consumer trust, high conversation rates, PPC advertising and, most importantly, profits. Complex, top secret algorithms developed by Google, have made reaching that promised land a case of content.
When you really boil it down, the internet, for all it’s wizardry, is just a platform for content. Every day millions of opinions, advertisements, pitches and pictures are uploaded to the internet, to be spread around like wild fire. Directing traffic with the assistance of digital marketers has proved a profitable, albeit speculative, industry. In the past two years, long- form content has been put forward as a solid way to appease search engine algorithms. Long-form content drives traffic to websites, placing said websites at the top of a search queue. The increasing need for long-form content as a means of establishing a profitable business has, of course, grown an industry itself. The worldwide industry of professional content writers.
It is a simple idea that has changed the face of business worldwide. Home-ware websites now have comprehensive blogs on the ten best ways to uncork a wine bottle, or how best to keep up with the Jones’. A website selling hair bands will have an extensive blog on different types of hairstyle or what to do when having a bad hair day. Even niche independent businesses will have a prolific stream of content flowing through their site on a daily basis. This need for constant content to help drive traffic has created a wave of writers, editors and proof-readers who are eager to add fuel to the fire.
With all developing industries, there is a fear that people will be replaced by technology. In most cases, it’s justified. The industrial revolution, for example, meant factories could significantly reduce their work force. Factory owners found they could make money, not only by reducing their overheads, but also because the technologies were faster and more efficient. Technology never needs to take a breaks or have a sick day. The precedent set by the Industrial Revolution is a question for contemporary society: If the developing industry of today is driven by content, can that content be produced by technology?
The general rule of thumb up until now has been that skilled work will always be produced by human beings. That skilled work, in fact, can only be produced by human beings. That assumption is no longer true. Modern advances have heralded computers that can teach children maths more effectively than a real teacher. A GPS system, that can navigate the streets of New York faster than a cabby with twenty years experience. See for yourself, a writer is no longer necessary to produce unique content. The internet, and the industries within it, need a constant flow of unique content. So how is this model sustainable when, inevitably, businesses will require more content than it’s possible to produce? Technology, is the simple answer to that question.
Search Engine Optimization has a thirst for content. Indeed, the internet updates it’s content on an almost daily basis with the majority of content on the internet today being irrelevant tomorrow. Digital marketers have long struggled to keep up with the development of Google algorithms that rank and place this content. But, the process of producing new content is no longer necessary. With all of the content archived in the internet, there is no need to produce more. Content can be accessed, re-framed and re-suited to match changes in Google Search algorithms.
It is no longer necessary to hire a writer, editor or proofreader to produce content. In fact, it is costly to do so. The goal of producing content is not for the value in the content itself, but for where an algorithm places that content. The increasingly advanced ability of modern technology to write, teach or inform people through content, could easily bring about the death of the Author. A period where, to optimize your business marketing, you no longer need to hire people to produce content. The content can be mass produced for you, at a fraction of a cost and in the blink of an eye.