Anonymous, No More: Making the Shift from Behind the Scenes to Byline

Google Authorship and AnonymityA little over a year ago, I couldn’t even tell you what SEO stood for. Something…computerish? Now, I feel fortunate that I can regularly earn a good chunk of cash each month from my work as one of many anonymous blog writers, and I’ve spend the last year more or less happily chugging away as a cog in the grand SEO/content marketing machine.

Sure, I’ve had my misgivings. As a lifelong reader and writer of fiction and long-form journalism, I find the push for “constant content” fairly disturbing, especially while performing a search and finding the dregs of my peers littering the Internet like the ghost rings of coffee cups left on a table. These strange, spun articles are maddening; there is no “there” there, just the vaguest enough outline of what you were searching for to bait you into that quick, unsatisfying click.

Needless to say, I’ve followed the shifts in Google’s constantly changing algorithm with interest as I’ve continued along this unexpected path. The idea that unique, well-written content will be rewarded in search rankings makes me feel much more comfortable with the whole situation. If the marketing agencies that fuel the great machine of the Internet are forced to hire actual writers instead of spambots, then I imagine the rising tide will bring up the quality of content across the board, which will make for less irritating searching for all of us, everywhere. So, yes: long live Panda! Down with article spinning! Content is King!

But.

With the sudden push for verified authorship, my rallying cries are being tested. The shift from anonymity to “authorship” makes sense in terms of improving the overall quality and relevance of what’s available in search, but it’s also forcing a lot of us invisible cogs out of the comfortable closet of our own creation.

If you’re someone who deeply values your privacy, then deciding to step back from the Google+ craze makes sense. There’s no getting around the fact that this shift towards authorship means an increasingly visible connection between our public and private selves. Having mulled this over, I’ve decided that for me personally, as someone with several social media accounts and a digital trail of articles, poems, and stories scattered far and wide, it’s an antiquated stance to keep my little corner of the Internet free of content creation, especially considering that it’s easier than ever to detect authorship simply based on writing style alone.

This is what I do: I write. For art and commerce and ego, for better or worse, in sickness and health, ’til death do us part. I’m okay with the ethical choices I’ve made as a content writer, and I’m okay with standing by the words I write. As content writers, this is an individual decision we must each make alone, but with the structures that drive search rapidly shifting beneath our feet, it is one we can’t avoid for much longer.

Caitlin C is a freelance writer available on WriterAccess, a marketplace where clients and expert writers connect for assignments.


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