How SEO Can Impact The Health Of Creators
Doing crazy things for money and fame is nothing new. Even before the internet we had daredevils and stunt people risking their lives for entertainment. There is just something intriguing about people partaking in uncommon behaviors.
As television and communications improved, we began to see television shows of people partaking in risky behavior. For many, such as the crew of Jackass, these behaviors seemed to pay off. The thrill and risk of pain and harm can be very alluring.
With the internet dominating our lives, we are seeing the next iteration of this culture taking place. However, this time around the daredevils and market research has been replaced by content creators and algorithms.
As content creators, we understand that platform discoverability is an extremely important facet to being successful online. What good is amazing content if there is not an easily-accessible way for people to find it?
On the surface, this whole process is fairly simple. People want to find content they love. Platforms are incentivized to show people accurate and relevant content. There’s a reason why most of us use Google as our primary search engine. We have come to rely on it to give us the most accurate search results based on our queries.
However, where there are content creators there is also competition. We want to build audiences of real people that connect with us, and integrating our content into platform algorithms is a big part of doing so. That said, how far should creators be willing to go in order to achieve fame and success?
Have you ever wondered why every recipe article starts with a 6 page essay about the writer’s connection to the recipe? This isn’t just for the writer’s personal fulfillment. The length of their content is used to gain a competitive advantage over their rivals.
While this is a silly example (except for my frustration from scrolling 8 pages to find out of these cookies have cloves in them), other types of content do not escalate as innocently.
What happens when a platform’s algorithm entices people to make decisions that are harmful to their health and lifestyle? While competition between creators can be healthy and fun, it can also be taken too far.
Examples Of Algorithmic Destruction
Pulling pranks on friends and family can be great for a light-hearted chuckle. People love watching prank videos and watching people play jokes on each other.
Prank content creators know this as well, and prank videos have become a very popular content niche over the past decade. With so much competition in this sector, we are seeing content creators increasing the intensity of their pranks in an effort to stay popular and relevant.
The escalation of this behavior has led to people getting hurt, arrested, and even killed. The effort to keep the algorithm happy has led to the pain and suffering of many people.
Mukbangers And Competitive Eaters
Competitive eating has always been popular to some extent. However, it seems like there has been an increase in this niche’s popularity over the past few years. As viewers, we get to watch as people ingest an unhealthy amount of calories.
While many creators do this safely, and lead healthy lives outside of their videos and streams, some creators take this niche to the next level.
Many platform algorithms take content frequency into account. If a creator makes content regularly, they may have a competitive advantage over those who post infrequently.
This makes sense for the most part. We want to ingest (pun intended) content from creators who are passionate about their topics and work hard to bring us the best expirience possible.
However, this can be problematic when it comes to certain types of creators. Mukbangers and competitive eaters are just two examples.
Eating a lot of calories in one video a month is very different from doing it every day. While I am not a nutritionist, I feel that I can safely say that eating 5000+ calories daily will eventually lead to some health problems.
Who Is To Blame?
Discoverability algorithms for the most part are a response to consumer needs. If a lot of people want to watch stand up comedy, then the algorithm will adjust to show them comedic creators.
As content consumers, do we have the proverbial blood on our hands when someone suffers through their content After all, it is our thirst for content that causes the competition in the first place.
Someone has to make the algorithm to begin with. Every platform has its own intense math equation that decides what content it is going to recommend to the general public.
Should platforms take action when their algorithm favors risky behavior? If their algorithm did not favor this kind of content, then creators would lose the social and fiscal incentives to create it.
Algorithms aside, someone needs to be making the content that people want to watch. Simple supply and demand plays a large part in the kind of content creators decide to make.
Where does personal responsibility play into taking risky behaviors online? Content creators have their choice of niche and content style. Can we really blame external forces for the creators decision to make harmful content?
Should We Blame Anyone?
To be honest, I don’t know the answer to these questions. The internet is a vast web (another pun intended) of people interacting with each other. This creates both social and market forces that drive our cultural progression. The entire problem is far more intricate than one blog post can cover.
At the end of the day, what we’re looking at are interactions between consenting adults. While I may disagree with someone pulling a dangerous stunt, if everyone involved is consenting then there is not much for me to be mad about. People are allowed to make bad decisions.
That said, do we want internet culture to progress in a way that pits creators health against their livelihood?
What Can We Do About This?
While the issue of problematic algorithms may seen daunting to a single person, there are a few things we can do as denizens of the internet:
- Stop searching for content in niches where creators are harming themselves for views.
- Support creators in these niches that create their content safely.
- If you see a content creator that seems to feel forced into making harmful content, reach out and offer help.
- If you are a content creator that is no longer comfortable with the type of content you are making, reach out for help and support.
Can SEO Kill You?
As content creators, we want our work to be viewed by as many people as possible. However, depending on our niche, we may find that trading our health for our content may not be the best idea.
Can SEO literally kill you? No, at least I haven’t heard of keywords getting up and attacking people. However, it is important to remain aware of how content creation affects your health and livelihood.