Sex gives SEO a spanking
Writing about sex is like painting sound – not easy. Edvard Munch tried to paint sound in his student-bedroom favourite The Scream, but that doesn’t sound like anything …
And yet the idea persists that sex sells in a written format. Why? Because it’s true. Just the mention of the word can get people’s legs twitching, regardless of how incongruous the link.
The UK’s 2002 Iraq Dossier, with it’s 45-minute claim, was racy; but the fact it was said to be “sexed up” gave it added frisson – journalists everywhere had the horn for months, and any time “sexed up” could be used in a sentence or headline it was used.
Dr David Kelly, of course, who came forward as the source of the “sexed up claim”, committed suicide in woods near his Oxfordshire home shortly after the story broke – not hugely raunchy as an event, although people tried to sex even this up as a conspiracy involving MI5, oh, ah, ohhhh …
Why does sex play so well with readers? Because it’s way more alluring than famine, unless it’s a story about Teri Hatcher’s four year sex famine.
The keyword tool Google AdWords seems to back this up. The figures below chart the number of times words are entered into the company’s search engine. The numbers on the left are global monthly searches; those on the right are Australian monthly searches …
You’ll notice “sex” trumps everything, with 618 million searches a month, roughly 606 million more than “earthquake”; and that nearly 7 million more people search for “bum” on a monthly basis than “drought”.
Of course, the internet’s about more than reading. One recent study found 85% of males and 15% of females view porn on the internet regularly. Other sources suggest the female porn-ogling figure may be closer to 60%, with 17% of women describing themselves as “addicted”.
Why rubbish? Because the text is loaded with voiceless velar plosives – the K sound mostly – “cock”, “suck” and “fuck” being the obvious ones; but also “silk”, “cape” and the almost-instantly-orgasmic “croquet” – go on, whack some balls … On the page, these words get boring really quickly.
Feathering and flirting with the issue at hand is key.
T.S Eliot called this the objective correlative: a set of objects, a situation, a chain of events which shall be the formula for that particular emotion
Sex can be earnest; or surreal and earnest; or surreal and earnest and sinister. It can be meaningfully surreal, even if you can’t quite grasp the meaning; or excitingly earnest. But can sex be earnest and sinister without dirt? That’s virtually unimaginable … and undesirable. There’s no poetry without dirt.
The following passage is one of my favourites: a barmaid and land surveyor have sex on a grubby floor under the jovial gaze of two male “assistants” while the barmaid’s “master” moves about in the next room.
[…] they embraced each other, her little body burned in K.’s hands, in a state of unconsciousness which K. tried again and again but in vain to master as they rolled a little way, landing with a thud on Klamm’s door, where they lay among the small puddles of beer and other refuse gathered on the floor. There, hours went past, hours in which they breathed as one, in which their hearts beat as one, hours in which K. was haunted by the feeling that he was losing himself or wandering into strange country, farther than ever man had wandered before, a country so strange that not even the air had anything in common with his native air, where one might die of strangeness, and yet whose enchantment was such that one could only go on and lose oneself further.
And then: Where were his hopes? What could he expect from Frieda now that she had betrayed everything?
And then: He had spent a whole night wallowing in puddles of beer, the smell of which was nearly overpowering.
And then: There on the bar counter sat his two assistants, a little heavy-eyed for lack of sleep, but cheerful. It was a cheerfulness arising from a sense of duty well done.
A masterful piece of writing? Incontrovertibly! One to get your rocks off to? Probably not.
But if straight, Route-A sex vocabulary is the way to search-engine heaven, why are there not more articles with the headline Tits Tits Tits?
Because most writers are looking for your love, not a one-night stand? Even lowly bloggers such as this one.
How do you build loyalty and move towards your first million subscribers? More of that later … maybe tomorrow.
Part 2 of 5
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