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Are Joshua Fields Millburn and Ryan Nicodemus Gay?

Are Joshua Fields Millburn and Ryan Nicodemus from The Minimalists gay?

No.

Well, probably not.

That’s not actually the point of this post.

The point of this post is that there are a solid number of Google searches for that phrase, and by choosing it as the title for this blog post, I’m increasing the chances that the eponymous search engine will send them my way. It’s a lightweight form of search engine optimization (SEO). It’s also hilarious.

SEO is a craft that went from belle of the ball to dark art in the early 2000’s, in no small part because it became less about getting the right content to the right people and more about stealing traffic of a certain type so you can sell something to the demographic who might ask such questions or search for such terms.

‘Content farms’ sprung up like weeds, overflowing with trite, one-page explanations of incredibly random topics, each one optimized for Google’s algorithms…maybe. No one is quite sure how much influence SEO tricks have on actual searches, but correlations were rife, and it seemed if you loaded your body copy with the words you thought people would search for, you’d get more ‘Google juice’ for your page. Or maybe just a specific number of such keywords per post. Or maybe internal linking. Or just choosing very specific titles for your blog post and permalink.

Whatever the case, SEO quickly became a focus, and because of this focus on cheating the system, rather than sharing legible and useful information, big G started to change their algorithms more frequently, leaving formerly top-dog websites in the dust. Many iterations later, we find ourselves with a still-imperfect, but far cleaner web.

Why? Because today search results are optimized for content written for people. It gives favor to shareable work, because chances are if people are reading and sharing said work, it’s more useful (or entertaining, or non-spammy) than the alternatives.

The takeaway here is that we live in a world where it’s actually in your best interest to become a better writer. To compose in such a way that others enjoy what you have to say (or show, as the case may be). I started blogging in a time (many years ago) when budding publishers were more concerned with gimmickry than quality product, and today we’re able to do the opposite.

Embrace this. Take full advantage of it. Do good work and share it with the world. Make sure the fundamentals are taken care of (correct coding on your website, minor presence on social networks), and then go crazy.

These are high times. Writers can do work they’re proud of and become popular.

And Josh and Ryan stand a fair shot of making honest men of each other, should they choose that route. High times indeed.