All the worst stuff on the internet

There's a part of the internet that literally nobody likes. A huge part.

It's that part where none of the writing is edited properly, and there are weird links to things like investing in palladium and protecting your home against bedbugs; making $1,527 a week sitting at home; making money by marketing nothing; making money by doing nothing; buying high-quality, durable covers for the spare tire on your Jeep Wrangler.

They all seem like they offer nothing but items for sale, even though there's nothing actually for sale on the site other than advertising space, which is occupied by other companies with the exact same kinds of websites. They're the ones with those double-underlined keywords right in the middle of paragraphs, all roads of which inevitably must lead to porn and computer viruses. It's weird how much porn there is on the internet. It's weird how many valueless websites there are, too.

But, anyway, I write those. Not the porn ones, but the ones that undoubtedly must lead to porn, at some point.

I've had a lot of weird jobs over the few years I've been working. I did well in high school and then landed a gig as a cart attendant at Target. After graduating from college, where I also did okay, I became a pizza delivery driver. I had a temp job where I: stuffed Walgreens prescription bills into envelopes, set up LinkedIn and Gmail accounts for a real estate investment company, worked at the opening for the H.H. Gregg in Niles, handed out key boxes to real estate agents, did customer service for an online payroll service.

Then I went to Malaysia and taught English, and learned and grew much, and developed my mid-range jump shot, and had all of the sweatiest days of my life.

The job I'm doing now is probably up there for weirdest. I write articles for search engine optimization, which is what websites do to improve their ranking on Google and other search engines.

I'll make up an example. Let's say there's a website called, I don't know, "The Chill." And the website is mostly about, um, movies and comic books and stuff. Well, the writer of this "The Chill" website would want to use keywords that people search for frequently. And if he posted enough articles, he'd find that "Silver Linings Playbook" was one of the best keywords to use during awards season, because lots of people wanted to search for Jennifer Lawrence and Bradley Cooper's beard. So then he might write more articles using that keyword in order to get more page clicks.

Except that the sites I write for are not about entertainment, or anything like it. Rather, many of them are about search engine optimization, social media marketing, developing blog readership, using Pinterest in a productive way, and figuring out how to make money by doing nothing. Some of them are also about medical supply companies. Some are also about trucking logistics. Some are about divorce law in Texas.

The weird thing is that there must be a whole string of parties involved here. I never work directly with a client. The clients are typically companies with relatively little online experience, and they work with SEO companies to improve their website's performance. But the SEO companies (at least sometimes) don't do that. Rather, they come to my company to produce content for their clients' websites. Then my company doles out the work to me or one of probably a dozen other writers.

I make around 1.33 cents per word, on average, meaning that I get paid five dollars for a 400-word article. If I had to guess, I'd say I make slightly less than half what my company gets paid to produce the articles. I have no idea what percentage my company gets paid from the initial cost of the client company.

Things I've learned so far: Texas has no income tax. Symptoms of epilepsy in childhood can be fully treated and eliminated by adulthood. Coin collectors are called numismatists. Russia controls much of the world's supply of palladium. Search engine optimization forces some websites to get better, but it makes the internet worse overall. The structure of online advertising makes the internet worse.

I haven't written a blog post here in about three weeks, but I've written at least 100 blog posts over that time. My name will never be associated with them. I don't own the content, and I don't search to see where they go. They're written; they're gone. Soon, they'll be filled with links that help other people make tiny amounts of money and eventually lead readers to the porn they're undoubtedly looking for.

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