Talk about timing (no pun intended) . . . I was going to continue my thoughts about time, the passing of it, and how that has affected my perception about the relevancy of my novel series when PWxyz came out with a post about burn out in a digital world that covered a New York Times article. I didn’t realize was how hard people worked to produce content to make sure that their sites remained on the critical first page of a search engine. Yes, I want to be a writer, but the fanatical pace of internet journalism is a little daunting. Guess I shouldn’t be surprised though given the freelance postings that I have seen where people want dozens of articles a day for pennies.
From the perspective of a web designer and frustrated search engine user, I know why ranking plays such an important part in our choice of websites that we visit. If I see someone in the top 5 or 6 entries, I will look at them. First page is definite considerate material. Second if I’m looking for a particular thing and unhappy with the results of the first. Third or fourth I’m pushing it and getting tired of all the “irrelevant junk” that managed to make it there because of critical, and sometimes deceiving, keyword placement. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve ended up on a site that is just a link site to other sites when I was looking for actual content.
I’ve learned over the years the more you update a site and the more links that are going in and out of it the more likely that you will be on that first page. Why do search engines rank fresher content higher? Well, in this fast paced world, when a person can go from one site to another and RSS and Twitter make access to the latest information almost instantaneous, you have maybe 3 to 5 seconds to make a good impression or people are moving on to the next website. If the site looks out of date then people are more likely to consider it irrelevant. I was hit by that reality this weekend while working on my site upgrade. Sure I’ve made changes, but the site updates where I list of those changes hasn’t been updated in three years! Talk about perceived irrelevancy, even though I have been an active web designer during that time.
Yet how do we stay mentally fresh and relevant in our work when the need for instant gratification and change and the pace to meet that need is so demanding? I really don’t have an answer for that. I’ve already done one timeline rest and am looking at another in my novel series because of all that has happened in the 5 years since the last reset. That’s why I am favoring working on my future books instead of the ones based in the current timeline. At least that way I know I have time to concentrate on the story and characters and say that my past characters were this age when this event happened to them instead of the event happening in a particular year.