Comments and Search Terms, or SEO Writing and Pat Smear

IMG_2296  SEO (Search Engine Optimized) Writing seems to be the main topic of interest that anyone ever comments about here on this little blog of mine. It’s fascinating. With all of the writing that I and sometimes my husband do about pop culture, music, theatre and the occasional recipe for canine cuisine, the one weird trick that always comes through in the Comments section is something like this:

Good morning writer and hello to you your website should have more traffic driving it I can make with SEO content your website traffic increase by one thousand and ninety seven percent, SEO is the wave of the future just like jetpacks and flying cars SEO Writing is a rare and highly specialized skill to use SEO keywords optimized to bring the highest Google results and increase your market potential my SEO experience and background in writing fluentest English extensively can bring SEO to your website now and make lots of more big dollars for you and myself huge potential contact me now sir more info about SEO Writing. 

To which I say, wow, thank you for the word salad, and hit delete.

I’ve done a fair amount of SEO writing, and I’m not a bad SEO writer. A client contacts me, because they want some content on a particular topic for their website, and they want someone to do the research and write about it in an accessible way.  They tell me how many words they want, usually around 300-500 per article, and what topic. I research it, write about it, rewrite it again to make it more concise and reader-friendly, and send it. They pay me, and everyone’s happy. They get clear, concise, accessible, researched website content to explain more about their product or service, and I get paid to do something at which I’m good and that I enjoy.

800px-Stipula_fountain_pen  The difference between SEO writing and other kinds of writing is the search engine optimization.  In order for the article to rank highly in search engine results, it has to use the same keyword as many times as possible. So, if you write an article that used the phrase “SEO writing services” once in the entire 500-word article, its page won’t have as high of a rank as, say, one that includes the phrase “SEO writing services” seven or eight times in those 500 words.

Now, when I was a wee lass learning to write out on the Quaker farm, where we still used paper and pencils, we were taught that repeating the same word too many times is tiring to a reader. And of course, since it was a Quaker school, wasting paper and graphite was a terrible sin. We learned not to bore our audience by repeating the same word over and over again. Sadly, the Internet was a gleam in the eye of a developer, and “page rank” was never discussed in seventh-grade writing classrooms.

But now, in the writing marketplace, repetition is good. However, a good SEO writer has to find inventive ways to make sure that the finished product is a clear, informative, helpful article with genuine information. It can’t just be a string of keywords, like a pattern of colored beads.

Currently, on Elance.com, writing is the second most high in demand skill, second to Web design. You’d think that a good SEO writer would be working 9-5 every day and making $40 an hour. Unfortunately, the offers are very strange, relative to the expected product and service an SEO writer provides.

As I write this, mostly based on experience, my current word count is 618, and it’s taken me roughly 20 minutes. I’ve barely done any research on this topic, other than a few quick glances at Elance. If I were to write an article with citable examples and footnotes, it would have taken longer. Furthermore, a shorter article takes more time, because of the thought process involved in condensing a topic. There is a reason that the haiku is an art form.

Most clients offer, for a 500 word researched article, using SEO writing, less than five dollars. I have been offered as little as six-tenths of a cent per word.

I have been fortunate, in that clients I’ve worked with have paid more, and they’ve been happy with my work. Unfortunately, these clients are few and far between. It’s really sad that the ability to write well is so undervalued, and it sincerely makes me wonder what I’m doing with my life sometimes. But, I’m really good at this, I can’t stop doing it, and this is what I want to do for a living.

In other news: The search terms used to find this blog, relative to the actual content, are often interesting. I think of this as a place for us to write about our music and theater projects. The most popular search terms used to find this blog are as follows:

m/s song of norway david bowie t-shirt

what strings does paul weller use

bowie video thank you for shopping

Now, I don’t know if I want to turn this into a British blue-eyed soul blog, but maybe there’s a play in this somewhere. If people are mostly interested in the secret hidden meaning behind David Bowie’s marketing artifacts and Paul Weller’s string choices, bless their hearts, they’ve come to the right place.

Only one of the search terms used to find this blog was phrased in the form of a question, and it’s a good one. I’ll try to answer it.

I am 16 do I need pat smear

"Patsmear" by Andrewbootlegger at English Wikipedia - Transferred from en.wikipedia to Commons.. Licensed under Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 via Wikimedia Commons -
“Patsmear” by Andrewbootlegger at English Wikipedia – Transferred from en.wikipedia to Commons.. Licensed under Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 via Wikimedia Commons

Pat Smear is, of course, a guitarist in the ubiquitous Foo Fighters, and was occasionally an additional live guitarist for Nirvana. Both bands are and have been among the most popular music in America, and I’m sure that if you turn on any rock or college radio station in America and wait a few minutes, you’ll certainly hear “Learning To Fly.”  I’m not saying that this is a bad thing, it’s just that it’s everywhere.  So since you phrased your question in terms of need, I’m not sure that they answer is yes.

Could you benefit from Pat Smear? Sure. But do you need to seek his work out, like a signed first edition of To Kill A Mockingbird?

If you’re going to do that, I recommend starting with work more indicative of his particular style than the latest Foo Fighters album, or Nirvana’s MTV Unplugged In New York album.  I think it’s time that you catch some Germs.

Okay, you’re sixteen, which means that the Los Angeles punk scene’s heyday was long before you were born. The Germs, however, are widely considered to music historians as one of the most influential bands in punk. Pat Smear played guitar, Lorna Doom played bass, Don Bolles was the drummer and their lead singer was Darby Crash.  Joan Jett produced their one studio album, (GI), in 1979. Despite critical acclaim for this album continuing to the present day, the band broke up following Crash’s suicide in 1980.  You may want to get your friends together to watch Penelope Spheeris’  documentary The Decline of Western Civilization, as well as the biographical film What We Do Is Secret. 

As you’re watching this, take a look at how these individuals were able to rebel against corporate capitalism without using the Internet (to say nothing of cell phones or Pitchfork), as well as how women presented themselves as agents of their own fortune and/or victims of male rebels. Ask yourself, what is victimization, and what is power, and how do these individuals make use of these systems of domination and control?  Do they win or lose? How and why? Then pick up a copy of (GI), and congratulate yourself on confusing the hell out of your parents by embracing an important part of American history.

At age sixteen, do you need Pat Smear? Yes, but you also need Joan Baez. You need music that will fan the flames of your adolescent curiosity and ambition and fuel you to make the most out of your life. Go for it.

I realize that it is entirely possible that what you meant to write is “I am sixteen do I need a pap smear,” in which case, that is a personal decision you should make with a doctor or nurse practitioner.

However, if you are really concerned about cervical cancer, here are some resources which may be helpful.

Pap tests and HPV tests, Planned Parenthood

Is a Pap test necessary every year? by Debbie Saslow, PhD

New Guidelines Discourage Yearly Pap Tests, by Mikaela Coney, ABC News

It’s a full-service blog here, I will tell you what. I can provide excellent music advice and SEO writing.

Any questions? 

as beautiful as comet bugs in jars

Robert Redford in The Electric Horseman, 1979
This is not Sparks Nevada, but don’t let that stop you from dressing like this.

Need some hot fresh dance music for your Saturday night? Vince has spent the last snowy nasty cold wet afternoon weaving some hot guitar licks and classic beats for your booty-shakin’ pleasure.

One of the things which has been keeping me from going completely bonkers from seasonal affective disorder this winter has been The Thrilling Adventure Hour.  It’s a classy, funny, smart, strange show, in the style of “old-time” radio drama and comedy, performed in front of a live audience, with a live band and Foley. Mainly, I listen to Sparks Nevada, Marshall On Mars and Beyond Belief, because they’re bizarre and hilarious, and Paget Brewster’s voice is like being wrapped in a silk and cashmere cocoon, filled with vodka and dipped in chocolate.

Paul F. Tompkins and Paget Brewster in The Thrilling Adventure Hour segment, "Beyond Belief."
Also, Paul F. Tompkins totally wants to be best friends with us, and that’s okay too.

So, I was cleaning my writing room.  The Wreck Of The Alberta and Who Is Cattle Kate? are finished (for now) and  the current pair of plays I have to write this semester (pairs. why do they always come in pairs?)are still unformed, and singing along with the Sparks Nevada theme song was keeping me from feeling like this was an exercise in futility.

Within a few minutes, I heard a strumming in the next room. Vince, in his savant-like fashion, listened to the theme song (written by Eban Schletter), figured it out and taught it to himself.

So, while we’ve been trying to keep winter gloom from making us want to peel off our skin and run screaming through the icy dark streets of Philadelphia, Vince re-interpreted and re-arranged The Theme From Sparks Nevada, Marshall On Mars, in the style of The Shadows.

And, WordPress isn’t going to let me embed the link from Soundcloud, so, you’ll have to click here to go to the Soundcloud page for the song.

Damn, he’s good.  Click, share, like, enjoy.  

Murder on Choctaw Ridge

Last night, as I was getting ready to leave for rehearsal, Vince was sitting on the couch eating a big plate of poached haddock and brown rice.

VINCE: I found out something really important.

ME: What’s that?

Bobbie Gentry's haunting ballad, Ode to Billie Joe, peaked at #1 on the US Billboard Hot 100 chart.
Bobbie Gentry’s haunting ballad, Ode to Billie Joe, peaked at #1 on the US Billboard Hot 100 chart.

VINCE: The truth about Billie Joe McAllister and The Tallatchee Bridge.

ME: Really.

VINCE: Mm-hm.

ME: What’s that.

VINCE: He didn’t jump.

ME: No?

VINCE: He was pushed.

ME: …

VINCE: Think about it.

ME: I am.

VINCE: Why would the narrative voice be filled with so much guilt in the second half of the song, if not to cover a crime for which she’s nearly caught?

ME: But… she’s got an alibi. She was down in the field balin’ hay. Or her brother was balin’ hay and she was chopping cotton or something.

VINCE: But Billie Joe McAllister didn’t just jump off the bridge. Not that morning.

ME: When did he jump?

VINCE: The song doesn’t say. But he had to have jumped the day before, otherwise how would the mother know and bring it up so casually at the lunch table?

ME: Okay, but an admission of guilt doesn’t mean anything, what’s the motive?

VINCE: Well, that’s the big mystery, isn’t it?

ME: Where did you get this information?

VINCE: I just thought of it, right now.

Now that I think about it, and after double-checking with lyricsmode.com:

Billie Joe McAllister couldn’t have been pushed by the narrator, because the mom reports “Today Billie Joe McAllister jumped off the Tallahatchee Bridge,” and the narrator has an alibi and a witness.

But you know who doesn’t have an alibi? The mom. I think she pushed him.
Oh, sure, apparently, she was cooking, but none of the food she served is stuff that requires close supervision: the black-eyed peas could have been on a low simmer and the biscuits could have been in the oven for a long time on low heat, as could the apple pie. And there’s no proof that the food was served hot, she could have cooked it the day before. Also, the father mentions that they have forty acres; a family living on a farm or ranch that large wouldn’t have found out about a suicide investigation that quickly without first hand knowledge.
And, Mama does have a motive, because she’s trying to set the narrator up with the preacher.
And she shows absolutely no remorse. Clearly, Mama is the cold-blooded killer.

Law & Order: Sixties Popsong Unit. DUNH-DUNH.

Evidence also available at lyricsmode.com. 

A tale of two Georges

GeorgeHarrison-LivingInTheMaterialWorld-poster  Last night we watched Living In The Material World, the George Harrison documentary that Martin Scorsese made a few years ago. It’s very good.  It’s about half George’s solo career and life after 1970, and the other half is his childhood and the Beatles years, without going into too much detail. Overall, the film makes the point that George Harrison was very good at balancing his spiritual and earthly selves: he could perform, have relationships, produce movies, play jokes, and make money, but he also was the guy who could just float away on a cloud of spiritual sound.

The documentary has no narration, so the individual clips and interviews speak for themselves. Which is nice. You don’t feel like you’re being spoon-fed or distanced. So, for example, it opens with film of the World War II bombings in England, coupled with the song “All Things Must Pass.” The documentary also includes letters George wrote to his family, while the Beatles were in their first years of touring, read by Dhani Harrison, which is heartwarming and also kind of eerie.

Dhani Harrison is totes adorbs, by the way.

So, for three hours, I put away my phone, knitted, and watched this documentary about someone who spent their life trying to make the world a better place for everyone he met.  It seems as though he did. George Harrison was no pushover, there is a part that shows him telling a reporter to step off shortly after the announcement of his cancer diagnosis. But in general, people talk about his literal and spiritual generosity, his peacefulness, how he could walk into a room and make everyone there calm and happy.  It’s infectious, and leaves you wanting to sign up for a meditation course.

Trayvon-BTMP-SHEP-COMP  Then I picked up my phone, checked Facebook and Twitter, and found out about the Zimmerman verdict.

When I was young, and learning to drive, my mom and grandmother, on the other hand, gave me the talk about Driving While Female and Dealing With Police.  They said, “if you are driving alone at night, and a cop tries to pull you over, drop your speed, get over towards the side, and drive your car to the nearest well-lit and populated area, where people can clearly see you.”  and then, don’t sass off, make eye contact, make sure they can see your hands.

One night, I was at home on a Saturday night because my boyfriend was working at the local movie theater. This was back in the days when movies were on magnetic tape in small plastic boxes and you had to go to a store and borrow them in exchange for money. I had a hankering to watch Who Framed Roger Rabbit?, so I went down to the local video store, rented the movie, stopped at the convenience store next door, got some tasty snacks, and thought, I bet my boyfriend would like a tasty snack (not a euphemism). so I took the long way home, stopped by the box office, said hi, gave him a snack, got back in the car and headed home. I knew my parents would be pissed at me for being gone for more than the fifteen minutes it really takes to rent a movie, so I was a little anxious.

It was probably about 8:30pm, after dark, and I turned onto a long downhill stretch that’s clearly marked at a speed limit that is less than your car would take if you were coasting. It’s the kind of road that suburban teenagers and idiots love to burn through, so you almost have to fight your car’s weight a bit to stay under the speed limit. I always liked this strip of road, and I always liked the challenge of trying to coast and stay as close to the speed limit as possible. So I coasted the mile or so to the next stop light. Was I speeding? I don’t know. Was I pressing the pedal to the metal? No.

At the next stop light, I noticed that the car behind me had its high-beams on, as if the driver were trying to intimidate me, or see what radio station I had on, who knows. It was bright enough to make me think, Jeez, somebody’s a bit too interested in me.

Having been followed late at night by guys trying to intimidate women before, I thought, that doesn’t look good. Delaware County has a lot of bored people, and a lot of cars. It wasn’t uncommon for bored male drivers to try to intimidate female drivers around there, and I had been followed by unsavory creepy drivers before (once I had to drive back to the movie theater after a late-night shift because a drunk guy followed me, and as he told my friends after they got between his car and mine, “I was just tryin’ to get some pussy”).  I told myself that this was all in my head, and to get home so my mom wouldn’t be mad.

So, I turned onto a winding, forested back road to get home, and the car followed. I thought, okay, please leave me alone, pal. The high-beams filled my rear window, and I got scared. I sped up. Next thing I know, the rearview mirror was full of spinning red and blue lights.

Within sixty seconds, a young State Police officer was shining a flashlight in my face and asking why I was driving so fast on a back road. In a panic, I spit out that I had been followed by Bad People before, that I thought this was happening again, that I was scared and trying to get away from him.

A few seconds of silence passed.

The officer apologized, gave me back my documents, and said I was free to go.

When I got home, I told my mom what had happened. She told me that in my dad’s years in criminal litigation, he’d heard many stories from police officers in suburban areas who used to intimidate young women with threats of speeding tickets and having their license taken away in exchange for blow jobs.

Is this the same as The Talk and Driving While Black? No.
Have I encountered police officers whose ego was bigger than their intelligence? Yep.

Similarly:

-An ex of mine had a story about how, at about age 17, he was walking from a girlfriend’s house to his car, parked several blocks away, after dark, and was picked up by the police because someone had seen trespassers in the area. He was handcuffed to a radiator and hollered at by cops until they got bored and let him go.

-Once upon a time in New Jersey, I carefully made a legal left turn onto a road and was pulled over by a bored State Police cop who didn’t like my rainbow bumper sticker, and offered to take apart my car to search for marijuana. I was dumb enough to say, “Go right ahead, knock yourself out, you won’t find anything.” He decided not to search my car. I guess he didn’t want to do the paperwork. My car was impounded, and when he asked if I understood why he was taking my car and issuing a ticket, I said, “No, I don’t. Why did you pull me over?” he said, “I always pull over cars that have…” then he gestured at the back bumper of my car, waving left-to right, following the pattern of the rainbow sticker, and said, “License plates like that.”

The Zimmerman case isn’t about police intimidation. He wasn’t a police officer. He’s a small man with an ego bigger than his intelligence. It’s “hey you kids get off my lawn” taken to the worst possible conclusion. I’m angry that the prosecution didn’t make a stronger case, and wondering exactly what kind of rocks the jurors live under.

I’m wondering why we’re a nation of intolerance and ignorance. We all have the capacity for compassion and empathy, we all have the opportunity to sit down and quiet our minds or de-escalate a drama.  I don’t understand the attachment to violence George Zimmerman must have to not just leave Trayvon Martin alone.

It’s a dangerous precedent.

On that note, here’s a classic piece of American literature which I think should be recommended reading in all schools.  Be kind today.

Cut Me Some Slack

Okay, so here’s my quick review of the giant ham and cheese sandwich that is the Nirvana-McCartney shebang last night. which I did not see until 6:30 this morning, which was this  recording, while making coffee.

0:04: Dave Grohl: I am totally gonna do that Namaste bow I learned from the hot chicks in yoga class. Yoga chicks love that shit.
0:10: Krist Novoselic: It’s cool, Sir Paul. Half the room has no idea who you are either.
0:21: Pat Smear: Everybody thinks I’m Fred Armisen.
0:22: Paul McCartney: I Am Gowing To Speaak In My Sir Pawl Vowice So Evaryone Knoows I Hawve Bean Knighted. And Sow I Wawrm Up My Vowcal Cowrds Awnd Down’t Crawk Like I Did At The Olympics. We’re Gowing To Jawm Owt This Rawk Hit.
0:26: Krist Novoselic: Okay, so I let my daughter pick out my clothes. At least I’m not wearing a rug that looks like a refugee duck from the BP disaster.

My thoughts about the music: When Novoselic said “It’s gonna sound like Scentless Apprentice and Helter Skelter,” he was right, but I think it sounded more like Come Together. Again, this isn’t the finest recording in the world, it’s pretty good, all things considered, and I hadn’t had my coffee yet, and I thought, of course it’s good. It goes on for 60 seconds too long, but of course it’s good. Your lead guitarist has been playing professionally for over half a century and basically is one of the inventors of the genre, your drummer has been playing in every kind of band since he was a teenager, your bass player has been hanging out for the last 20 years playing music for other people’s bands and saying, “fuck the system,” they’re gonna go through the standard book of basic rock riffs and throw all of them at the audience. I don’t know why they had to throw them all at the same time, they could have afforded to back off a little bit, go for finesse instead of bombast, but I’m sure Sir Paul could only give them two hours (including the performance night).

I’m also dying to know what kind of guitar Sir Paul’s playing here.

You know what would not have sucked? All things considered, if they had done this, which has no relation to a hurricane, but it sure would have been fun to listen to:

I just hope this means some more people get heat and electricity and food and clothes and stuff, who need it.

Donate to the Robin Hood Relief Fund. 

Blogging here has been thin, the semester has been thick.  Right now I’m up to my nose in a work in progress and up against a deadline, but I promise some actual content after it’s all over but the shouting.

Things I Find Inexplicably Funny

  It’s that magical time of year, where I have to dig in, eschew all social contact, and sacrifice myself to finals. I’ve been spending the rainiest day in recent memory reading academic journal articles on Abstract Expressionism, and when this paper is finished and handed in, I will never want to look at a Jackson Pollock painting again.  Maybe it’s oxygen deprivation making me feel compelled to overshare this with you.

I used to work at an upscale men’s clothing store down at the Jersey shore (just to give you an idea: men’s golf shirts, $50 each) that was so mind-numbingly boring that we used to place bets based on how overplayed the songs on the South Jersey lite FM radio station were (i.e., how many times will we hear this song this week?). There was a period of time where the song of the week was “Leather and Lace,” but they never identified the artists. We all knew it was Stevie Nicks and somebody, but we couldn’t identify the male vocalist. It took a full week before someone finally correctly identified it as Don Henley.

You know your job is mind-numbingly boring when you can write, in your head, a full gender-studies article on the cultural relevancy of the lite-FM chestnut, “Leather and Lace.” It made me fall in love with the song. It wasn’t a great summer, but there are worse fates.

Years later but still years ago, I convinced my friend Jeremy to sing this at karaoke with me. Being completely blotto, I blew it so badly that I still owe Ms. Nicks an apology.

So, that might explain why I find this pee-myself hilarious, at least through the first 4 minutes.

Ferrell’s comedy takes a while (and it’s not work-safe, you have been warned), but at 4:15 or so, Dave Grohl just takes it back and owns it (and me).  I’ve never been a huge fan of, specifically, The Grohl- his presence is ubiquitous enough to have become cultural wallpaper at this point. But his ability to simplify and perform this overplayed song compellingly shows you why, much like Chickenman, he’s everywhere, he’s everywhere. Guy’s got some chops, and I wouldn’t mind that served up with some caramelized onions.

But then Ferrell breaks the absolute cardinal rule of the guitarist-worshiper. No matter how funny you think you are, no matter how complicated your bromance, YOU DO NOT DISTRACT THE GUITARIST. Guitarists in general tend to be skittery creatures, and it’s a complicated juggling act for them to perform and make it look like they’re not self-conscious. One wrong move and they will tear back to Mom’s basement, the six-pack of Schlitz and the stack of vinyl records before you can say Stairway To Heaven. Deep down inside every guitarist is a kid who finds a complicated, ancient and beautiful stringed instrument less threatening than people.

Musicians make good partners for writers.  When you need to go crawl into a cave and scribble and scrape out a few hundred words and try to make sense of them, they will not miss you when you’re gone. They will, in their weird way. You might come out later on and find a mouse on your doorstep.  In reality, they’re off doing their own scrambling and scraping. Whatever you do, when the machine is in operation, do not distract them. You might end up with a 12-string neck in your ribs, and you will deserve it.

There’s no such thing as “between projects.”

After over a year of [almost] weekly blog posts, Vince and I took a few months off. This wasn’t on purpose.  We had some other things suck up our time and energy, most notably:

1) Quitting smoking. I’m sure there will be a future, detailed post about this work in progress.  Suffice it to say that it took up most of our head space starting in mid-December. In the meantime, please know that we are not converted and ideologically we are still smoker-positive. However, the Fine Turkish Turkweed, she is an expensive and harsh mistress.  So,  Nicorette is my new constant companion, and for the month of February, Vince made sure we were well stocked with Cherry Tootsie Pops.

2) The Conshohocken Curve. Whether it’s where you tap your brakes or where you break free of the herd, that phrase is embedded in the minds of everyone who moves within and without the Greater Philadelphia region from years of radio traffic reports. When it floated to the top of Scott Rogers’ brain one day, Vince knew this had to be the name of the band they’d been working on with Alan Kaufman.  For now, the band is practicing and getting ready to record demos, with drummer Mark Sugarman. Keep your cool cat clothes pressed and on a hanger at the front of the closet, because the rock, blues and folk-rock dance pop express train is getting ready to roll.

(How was that? How’d that sound? Do I still have the marketing-copy chops? Huh? Huh? Do I? Huh?)

3)  This semester is such a switch for me that it feels like my head is on backwards. I’m taking courses that are all about what things look like and how that affects society, and/or how society affects what things looks like.  So, I have to know the difference between talud-tablero and duo gong, ruquhn and rubakha, Whistler, Tanner and O’Keefe.  All of this falls into the “things that sound dirty but aren’t” category, and not in a good way.  I’ve been learning the craft of storytelling for a year and a half, now I have to use all the “analyze, memorize and identify” parts of my brain.  so, yeah, just when the learning curve started to make sense, it flipped.

Worry not, internet. Your favorite writer-musician power couple of love has been doing just fine.  Amanda Palmer is in Australia recording a new album and Neil Gaiman is in an undisclosed location writing a new book. In the meantime, you have Lindsay and Vince.