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Long-Tail SEO is Dead. E-E-A-T a Walrus.

As an experienced SEO, I've seen the effectiveness of long-tail SEO decline due to the tragedy of the commons. To break into the industry, we must figure out how to emit signals indicating Experience, Authority and Trustworthiness to convince Google you're Expert (E-E-A-T). Learn from Lewis Carroll's timeless stories and protect your sanity from those who would undo it. Don't covet the generational wealth of the Walrus family - use your own hammer to build your own kingdom.

E-E-A-T: A Walrus's Guide to Protecting Your Sanity from Those Who Would Undo It

By Michael Levin

Wednesday, May 3, 2023

Easy tricks that once worked stop working because of the tragedy of the commons. And so has gone the effectiveness of long-tail SEO. You can no longer publish something, which for lack of any better match being found on that (generally exact-match) keyword, your content would be served. My initial mark in the SEO industry was made on this very principle. It had a nice 15-year run, but Google will no longer give out traffic to the “low quality” sites of the long-tail. So now what? How do you break in? Darned if I know, but I’m conducting my hands-on experiments.

I’m going to try to emit the signals that my site is to be noticed. What is it to have E-E-A-T, really? I’m going to try to be one of those E-E-A-T people, I guess. Maybe try to be an influencer. If you have the potential to be a genuinely interesting person, then be that person. Lots of people do that by traveling our seeking out interesting experiences, but this is so unappealing to me now, except maybe for the education of my child. I like to travel in the space of my own mind (reading & writing). It’s just so much less drama and rigmarole.

I will not be a cryptobro nor an instapeep. Rather, I’ll continue to be the alternative-path oddball. The path less travelled, and all that. I’ve gone years and decades removing myself from mainstream media influence once I detected its mind-rotting intent. Stuff like the CNN coverage of the 2nd Gulf War really drove me over the edge of giving up on old-fashioned TV. Bombastic click-bait of hypnotizing headlines, it is. Agent Orange, it felt like.

I haven’t had “traditional” TV since the 90s. I only let TV back into my life with the advent of streaming services, and even then I almost always choose reading, although admittedly very often Audibles. Best of all are the Kindle books that have narrative tracks and the read-along highlighting. I’ll go to bed to Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland not infrequently. Alice has many of the answers.

The nonsense, tolerance for it, and deriving value from it is one of the biggest lessons of Wonderland. We are all at risk of media nonsense saturation and a loss of grip on reality, and now more than ever with the rise of AI-generated content, deep fakes, and how so many polarized people are turning into bad actors. The barrier for entry to the enabling tools has become so low.

The Alice books were not only commentaries on the politics of the day (it was reality-bending nonsense back then too), but also a warning of what was to come. The Wizard of OZ books even more so, but less accessibly so because it’s spread over 14 books instead of 2.

Lewis Carroll’s mere two books pack such a whollup on topics ranging from quantum physics to the various personality types, AI or otherwise, that come to power. The Queen of Hearts asserting her authority by wanting to chop off everyone’s head is a particularly poignant example. And the apathy of everyone around and supporting her, knowing she’s a paper tiger, but not wanting to be the first to speak up against her. It’s all so very real for nonsense, and that’s a big part of what’s made the series so timeless and universally loved, even by the queen herself that was being lampooned.

Think about the power of such stories that can be knit together while drifting with the current down a river and put into such a compelling narrative that reaches into each of our lives in so many ways even today. How much life experience did Lewis Carroll have to draw from to create such a work? Was it coincidence and timing, or was it fated to happen, cast into destiny by the very act of writing it? If not him, then someone else? And if not Alice’s adventures, then would Dorothy have had hers in Oz?

Wrapping such coming-of-age stories in the trappings of fantasy and nonsense makes them more palatable to the masses, especially when it comes to a young girl whose prospects in life especially in the 1800s were so limited. But by introducing the ambiguity of the real world into the fantasy world, it made it more palatable, and perhaps even more timeless. It certainly ages better than a boy who is cast by Mark Twain into a very realistic world floating down the Mississippi River with a runaway slave and triggering N-word language that gets it banned. Alice is virtually ban-proof in addition to timeless.

If you only know Alice through the Disney movie, I suggest you read it. It’s not a long read, and it’s a very different experience. The subtle difference themselves are a lesson in how the mind works. Disney for example cast the Carpenter as outright cheated by the Walrus in the movie, but in the book, it’s implied that the Carpenter is in on the Oyster-eating scam because he asked the Walrus for another slice of bread.

The actual Alice book leaves it ambiguous whether the Carpenter eats oysters. Walt definitely thinks the proletariat class (working class craftspeople) will always and necessarily be screwed over by the aristocracy (orating, self-important ruling class). Projecting there much, Walt? You haven’t read Alice until you get this subtle distinction regarding the Carpenter. Identifying with the Carpenter such as I do (I love oysters), this is of great interest to me.

Protecting your sanity from those who would undo it in life is amongst life’s greatest skills. In modern times we’ve got a word for it: gaslighting. The personality type portrayed by the Walrus cares not for truth and the reality of the situation. In fact it terrifies them knowing that the personality types of carpenters have the knowing and the doing of things—the real power and very foundations upon which society is built. Such is the stuff of uprisings of the working class and revolution, so the priority of the Walrus is to keep the carpenter in his place, and the best way to do that is to keep him confused and off-balance. The Walrus is a master of gaslighting, and the Carpenter… well, he’s a carpenter. He’s not a master of anything, but he’s a master of something, and that’s the point.

That’s me. I’m not the master of anything but my skills in vi/vim/NeoVim. Even just the fact that the tool has followed this evolutionary path is significant. Tools evolve. Carpenter-like personalities must decide which to use. With every generation while Walrus-types are fortified by generational wealth, the carpenter-types are forced to start over and their weaknesses are exploited. Foremost among these weaknesses is tool-selection. In Disney’s version, the Carpenter has a hammer which he uses to construct the shack in a magical cartoon-blur, but after the Walrus cheats him by eating all the Oysters and not leaving the Carpenter any, the Carpenter runs after the Walrus with the hammer.

Now if you were in a family of generational-wealth Walruses, what would your priority be? You can’t take all hammers away from all carpenters or else they couldn’t build the nice restaurants they need in which to eat oysters in maximum comfort. So walruses rig the game by making sure carpenters use hammers that break regularly (planned obsolescence), so they have to keep buying new ones.

This has the double-whammy setback effect on the carpenter of resetting their skills to apprentice baseline and putting even more money into the hands of the Walruses. Lather, rinse, repeat and you’ve got an oligarchical-style fortified social order. And the source of those hammers? You guessed it! The Walrus family of generational-wealth Walruses.

So what to do if your vibe is that of the Carpenter? Don’t covet the Walrus family, nor their line of fine reputation hammers. It’s a trap! They’re second-generational fakers full of imposter syndrome, living on defending the wealth accumulated by their parents, who were probably crooks of some form or another. Most kingdoms were built on the backs of slaves and protection rackets. The “law” was the King’s own men keeping you safe from… well, the king’s own men. Not too dissimilar to what organized crime does today.

Over time for lack of anything else more formal or stronger government, these protection racket tribal warlords become kings. Serfs are given fiefs in exchange for offerings… a share of the harvest… taxes… or else! Fiefdoms become kingdoms. BAM! You’ve got government.

Unfortunately, serfs and peasants are the Oysters in the Walrus and Carpenter poem, not much different than sentience to be eaten. If you’re lucky enough to have acquired the skills of a carpetnter for the first time, be alert for signs that your hammer is being taken away. If you let it happen, BAM! You’re an oyster again, ready to be eaten.

My E-E-A-T (Experience, Expertise, Authority, Trust) should be teaching folks how to use a hammer that can not be taken away from you, so you can never be eaten like an oyster.