Writing Content That’s Better Than AI

I came across the above tweet today from Joost de Valk, who was the founder of SEO product Yoast. For the benefit of those who can’t see the image, here is the main part (emphasis mine):

If your content is not better than what Google’s Search Generative Experience (SGE) can generate on its own, based on the web it knows already, ask yourself: why would they crawl your content? Why would they rank your content? Why does that content even exist? You *have* to be remarkable. You have to add something to the corpus of the web. This is what the Helpful Content Update also tried to do. Highlight *real* experiences, reward sites with good content (and a good UX).

Now, I don’t spend a lot of time thinking about SEO, but this tweet did sync with something I’ve been pondering recently. You may or may not know that I’m about to serialize my “Web 2.0 memoir” on Substack; a 136,000 word book I’ve written about my experiences running my 2000s tech blog business, ReadWriteWeb. I’m proud of this book and I’m looking forward to making it public, later this month. But I’m also somewhat anxious about it…mainly, that nobody will want to read it. Getting attention for written content on the web is much harder than it used to be, especially if (like me) you haven’t built up a significant social media presence over the years.

I’m trying to assuage my anxiety by keeping two things in mind:

  1. I wrote this book with posterity in mind. Even if people in 2023 don’t want to read it, I’m pretty sure that some curious souls in 2053 or 2073 will want an answer to this question: “What was the internet like in the first decade of the 2000s?” (At the very least, I hope my 3 kids will, at some point, want to know what their father did for a living.)
  2. One thing I am 100% sure of: an AI couldn’t have generated this book! That content exists because I lived it. Those are my real experiences that I’m adding to the corpus of the web.

Of course, whether Google’s search algorithm places any value on my book content, as it goes up each week on Substack, is another matter. Most likely it won’t rank very highly in the short-term, but I hope it does edge up over time as geeks from the future do searches (“what was web 2.0?”, “what were the top tech news sites of the 2000s”, etc). These won’t be golden SEO keywords or anything, but the content will — I hope — have some value…historical value, if nothing else.