I Got Some Serious Love from Google and Now People Need Me to Be an Expert.
When SEO backfires.
I’ve had a few articles do well on Medium. It’s great when it happens. Owing to a combination of luck, curation and brilliance (ha ha!), those articles brought in claps, comments and enough cash to allow me to splurge on the name brand mustard.
Then, there’s this other article. It has a lot of reads. It’s been viewed more than any of my other posts. Despite having less than 200 claps.
Why is this? Well, Google decided I would be a great voice to amplify regarding the use of a certain drug to treat a certain malady.
This is the post:
I wrote it over a year ago. It came about because I’d been suffering flight anxiety for a few years and finally decided to go to the doctor and get some drugs. My hope was that taking a pill or two would make soaring above the ground in a tiny death tube a little easier.
Then I wrote about the experience, because I thought it would be funny. Partly to inform people, but mostly because I thought it would be funny. I quickly typed up on my iPad in the airport lounge between flights.
I gave it a specific title and used a few very specific keywords. SEO, baby.
Now I get emails all the time.
About this article in particular.
Some people want to know how I’m doing these days, if the drugs are still working or if I’ve turned into an addict.
Some want advice on dosages.
Others are looking for reassurance. They have a trip coming up, something they can’t get out of, and they’re really scared. I get it. I’ve been there. Sometimes when I’m stuck on an airplane and everything is rattling around me, all I want is for the stranger sitting next to me to take my hand and tell me we’re not going to die.
If a stranger says it, it has special power. It makes it true.
I try to help. I answer the emails. But I don’t know how much good it does. Because what am I going to say? I’m scared, too? The pills make it easier, but I can’t promise they’ll help everyone. I can’t give advice on dosages.
This might be a shock to those of you who have followed my journey on Medium, but I am not a doctor. At best, I am an amateur psychologist (the second most dangerous kind of psychologist).
But Google decided I’d be a great person to help all these folks. People who are sweating and swearing and freaking out. It’s been over a year and Our Lord Google is still tossing people at my post on a daily basis.
Another weird part of this experience is that everyone always writes me before their flights. No one ever follows up to let me know they survived, or that things turned out okay. So I’m always trapped in emotional limbo, a world filled with folks anticipating a challenge and never overcoming it.
This kind of Google juice would be a great win for a little eCommerce store trying to sell pretzels in custom shapes or sweatshirts with eyes cut into the hoods (in case you want to wear them backward).
(By the way, I have a lot of business ideas if anyone is interested).
The theoretical eCommerce shop could convert all those views into customers. And the world would be a better place, filled with pretzels in the shapes of unicorns and vacuum cleaners.
But I’m not interested in converting a squadron of nervous flyers. What would I even sell them? Stress balls, maybe.
The post isn’t enrolled in the partner program, so I don’t get a windfall from any of this. I could switch it on to try and make money, but that would feel dirty. Most of the people reading it aren’t paying Medium members.
I did go in and make a few edits the other day. I added a link to my newsletter. So far none of the people scouring google for info on their medications are eager to get puns and puppy photos in their inboxes. Inexplicable.
I also wrote an update at the end. Everyone always wants to know if the drugs are still working, so I added some more current info. Aside from that, and from answering emails, I don’t know what else I should be doing. It feels like a lot of responsibility. People are scared. I’m scared, too. I still hate flying. I haven’t beat this thing. I’m just getting by.
This is my weird ass Medium page. I write about badger toilets and cursed lip zits. I sneak fart jokes into way too many places. I know a lot about movies and books and social media and otters and fashion. Maybe a little about SEO. But Google decided I shall be the Queen of Flying on Legal Drugs.
Because the thing about the internet is, if you use a sprinkling of the right words, if you can keep people reading long enough, you get to be an expert.
So I guess I’m an expert now.
Sorry if I get it wrong.