Keywords – The Truest State of the Union Address

Lyle Ellerbee

The internet’s Web Pro News published an insider report written by their own Jason Lee Miller on Friday September 1, 2006. The article entitled “My Space Drives More Traffic than MSN” noted that the latest top generic keyword searches in America are, lingerie, sex toys, Halloween costumes, auto parts, textbooks, shoes, furniture, cell phones, checks, and flowers. What does this say about what America is thinking about?

Keyword popularity lists change by the day and in some cases by the hour depending how specific you want to be. But sitting alone in perfect unfettered privacy tapping away on their keyboards Americans are unwittingly giving away their state of mind to search engine statisticians. Keyword reports say more about the American state of mind than any simple response elicited from the average Joe on the street by some news reporter.

Keywords are monitored largely to discover the buying habits of the American public but far more than that is easily ascertained. America’s morals, attitude and preoccupations are all easily garnered from keywords lists. Changes and swings in all of these areas can also be easily rendered and analyzed.

An example of how keywords show the American state of mind comes from the reports gathered right after the tragedy of 9/11. For the first time in over a decade the word “sex” dropped from the number one spot on the keyword popularity lists. Words pertaining to church, God, spirituality, politics, freedom and government went on the rise. Slowly and steadily these search terms began to erode and things are pretty much back to pre 9/11 type keyword searches.

As a writer I was amazed by what I found under some relatively well known writers forums, given out as good advice. Espoused was the idea that if you looked up the most popular keywords and only wrote articles around those at the top of the list you couldn’t fail. Here is a notion that is both true and false all at the same time. It is true that articles based on popular keywords will get more attention and that’s a win. But even with all that attention if a writer has failed to elucidate, enumerate or illuminate that for which he is called or driven to write about, he or she has truly failed. This of course is only one of a million ways for someone to achieve complete success at the same time they have miserably failed. Failure to notice the failure is clouded by success. The success is usually clouded by some secondary cause having little to do with writing. Usually that is one of the big three, money, fame or fortune.

Ok, if you’re selling a product on E-Bay or a website you do have to write an attractive and alluring description of that item. If you’re promoting a business venture you must advance it as highly profitable. Heck, if you are only selling hotdogs you must make them sound like the tastiest most pungent piggy palatability the world has ever bitten into. The only real difference between what you say about hot dogs and how you tell a story, report an event or make a point is that one is an advertisement the other is a piece of journalism. Perhaps it would be better to say that writing for business is miles apart from the business of writing.

Keywords may truly reflect America’s state of mind and thus the whole state of the union but who is noticing that? Sadly it is not those punching their keywords off to query the search engines. As a preacher of the entire gospel, message I could hardly refrain from thinking of some word from the Saviour that might address this mountain of often very foul and self indulgent verbiage floating around in the American psyche. It was not hard to come up with a few very pointed passages that address this deepening malady. I suppose some words in the following passages might even come up in a keyword search somewhere…here’s hoping.

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

For by thy words thou shalt be justified, and by thy words thou shalt be condemned. Matthew 12:37

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