I hate blogging on the best of days. Part of it is that I am lazy. But, part of it is that I’m slightly obsessive about creating cast-iron arguments or doing the most meticulous, perfect research. But then, add in Yoast, that plugin that promises to boost your Googleiciousness, and you have a surefire trigger for panic-fueled procrastination.
See, that paragraph right there would have set off Yoast alarms right away. I didn’t lead with the keyword (I didn’t even set a keyword for this post, and the freedom is exhilarating!), and I didn’t mention it at the beginning of the first sentence. Also, my sentences contain complex compound clauses, which make them longer than 20 words.
But, you know what? I don’t care. The relief is so intense, it’s like taking off your bra at the end of the day. No more 300-word section restraints, no more keyword saturation, no more image with alt attributes, worrying about linking in and out of my site. None of that shite.
Don’t even get me started on the readability score.
There’s a reason I didn’t go into journalism and fled corporate marketing as soon as I could. Regimented writing isn’t just torturous for me technically, it hurts my brain.
This isn’t to say I don’t value clear, concise expression of thought. I’m not a fan of Japanese fiction for nothing. But, I’m also a fan of the freedom to develop complex thoughts, tying in the occasional discursive concept, and providing all the necessary evidence or detail to support my argument.
(Yoast would have turned SO RED and fainted at that monstrosity of a complex compound sentence. HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA)
There’s another, deeper reason why I resent Yoast. I feel that it is symptomatic of the dumbing down of language, and its corresponding decline in reading comprehension.
In a spectacular moment of get-off-my-lawn’ism, I can say that I remember that when I was learning to read growing up, if I didn’t know a word, I either looked it up or tried to figure it out by context. Reading above our ‘pay grade’ was not only normal, it was encouraged because that is how we learned. The reflexive reaction was not to dumb-down anything we couldn’t understand but rather to teach us how to work up to reach understanding.
But Yoast runs an algorithm that sets off alarms (okay, just frowny orange faces) almost every time a complex thought is expressed with a vocabulary that includes words of more than two syllables. If the goal of a blog post or website is to be skimmable, or to support a business’ visibility efforts, then by all means, Yoast away! I also know that Yoast is factoring in the differences in how people read and process things on screens than on paper. However, if we are reading in-depth news articles that run more than 2,000 words on our phones and computers, we may be adapting to and becoming more comfortable with complex content on screens.
It’s not just Yoast, though. By allowing the lowest common denominator to be the dominant determining factor in creating and communicating content, we are aiding and abetting the participation trophy culture that is at the root of so many of our troubles today. Be honest. Nobody is ever really happy to get a participation trophy. We throw away the faux-diploma certificates that say we attended or completed various work training sessions. Save some fucking trees and just save it with the certificates. Nobody frames that shit. Name one kid who was thrilled to get a participation trophy (once they actually learned that it still means they didn’t win).
The participation trophy culture dilutes our ability to learn how to be gracious losers, admit we are wrong, and make compromises. It seeds our psyches with entitlement and staves off the hunger to succeed with the Cheetos of good enough.
Getting all green Yoast algorithm smiley faces for a blog post doesn’t mean we have actually written anything that is coherent, well-researched, helpful, or even logical.
Green Smiley Yoast Face = Blog Participation Trophy.
Well, no more for me. I’m done with that. I will not cater to the lowest common denominator. I will not assume that people are incapable of moderately advanced reading comprehension. I will not shackle myself or my ideas because they require longer, more complex discussions.
And just think, if you are still reading this, you’ve come all this way through a very non-Yoast approved post and lived to tell!
What do you think about Yoast? Do you use it? Love it? Hate it? Are only moderately annoyed by it? Tell me all!