Keywords – The Best State of the Union Address

Keywords – The Best State of the Union Address

Internet Web Pro News published an internal report written by their own Jason Lee Miller on Friday, September 01, 2006. The article titled “My Space Drives More Traffic Than MSN” notes that the latest top general keyword searches in America are underwear, sex toys, Halloween costumes, auto parts, textbooks, shoes, furniture, cell phones, checks and flowers. What does this say about what America thinks about?

Keyword popularity lists change daily, and in some cases hourly, depending on how specific you want to be. But sitting alone in perfect unfettered privacy and tapping away at their keyboards, Americans unwittingly betray their state of mind to search engine statisticians. Keyword reports say more about the American state of mind than any simple answer the average Joe on the street gets from some news reporter.

Keywords are largely monitored to discover the shopping habits of the American public, but much more than that is easily ascertained. American morals, attitudes, and cares are easily gleaned from keyword lists. Changes and fluctuations in all these areas can also be easily plotted and analyzed.

An example of how keywords indicate the state of mind of Americans comes from the reports collected immediately after the tragedy of 9/11. For the first time in more than a decade, the word “sex” has fallen from the top spot on the keyword popularity charts. Words relating to church, God, spirituality, politics, freedom, and government increased. Slowly and steadily these search terms began to erode and things almost reverted back to pre-9/11 type keyword searches.

As a writer myself, I’ve been amazed at what I’ve found on some relatively well-known writing forums given as good advice. The idea was maintained that if you search for the most popular keywords and only write articles around the ones at the top of the list, you can’t fail. Here is an idea that is both true and false. It’s true that articles based on popular keywords will get more attention, and that’s a win. But even with all this attention, if a writer has failed to clarify, enumerate, or illuminate what he or she is called or prompted to write about, he or she has truly failed. This, of course, is only one of a million ways that someone can achieve complete success at the same time as failing. Failure to notice is obscured by success. Success is usually clouded by some secondary reason that has little to do with writing. It’s usually one of the big three, money, fame or fortune.

Well, if you are selling a product on E-Bay or a website, you need to write an attractive and appealing description of that item. If you are promoting a business venture, you need to present it as highly profitable. Hell, if you’re only selling hotdogs, you should make them sound like the tastiest, spiciest pig the world has ever eaten. The only real difference between what you say about a hot dog and how you tell a story, report an event, or note is that one is advertising and the other is a piece of journalism. Perhaps it would be better to say that writing for business is miles away from the business of writing.

The keywords may indeed reflect the state of America’s mind, and therefore the entire state of the union, but who notices? Unfortunately, they aren’t the ones punching in their keywords to make search engine queries. As a preacher of the whole gospel message, I could hardly help but think of some word from the Savior that might address this mountain of often very vile and self-defeating gibberish hovering in the American psyche. It was not difficult to come up with several very pointed passages which refer to this deepening disease. I imagine some words in the following passages might even come up somewhere in a keyword search… there is hope.

And my speech and my preaching was not with enticing words of human wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power: 1 Corinthians 2:4

Because by your words you will be justified and by your words you will be condemned. Matthew 12:37

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