It was a recent article published on Search Engine Land that caught my eye reaffirming something that we as a web site have been defending for years. Namely, maintaining a standard in our writers to refrain from using any profane or vulgar language in articles or reviews.
Such language used, even if pertinent to the “voice” of the article, has long been edited out in favor of more suitable pg-13 verbiage (or at least replaced with variations of the words (aka F**k, Sh*t…etc)
While we are well aware that there have been many sites, horror or non, that practice their free speech rights imploring harsh language, hate verbiage, and profanity, we took the high road and decided not to be one of them.
With that said, there was an underlying intuition additionally laying dormant in the recess of my mind that was telling me, someday this notion would manifest into something beyond just personal choice and writing preference. That perhaps censorship would bleed into web site standards and search results etiquette. It was the confirmation of recent articles that signaled that day has indeed arrived.
What does it all mean?
So what does this mean for horror sites and review sites in general that have 1000’s of reviews containing such voicings and unrestrained proclamations of personal review? For starters, this is a movement that will affect search results for sites that are not compliant. The indication starts with “snippets” which is most likely a precursor to full removal of reviews that do not meet their standards. Think I’m kidding? Read Googles recent guidelines.
Take that a step further and you can bet that this will trickle down into de-rankings and possible removals of reviews thus erasing much of these “sites” overall search presence.
Call it form of reverse-SEO elevating sites that adhere to standards.
While it’s still early, this is a wake up call that things are changing across the web. The first movement has been the deletion and blocking (and takedown in many cases) of torrent and pirate sites. You can reference the details.
As that takes form and continues in mass removals, we are approaching the next phase of web compliancy as detailed above.
In fact to site a recent example, a film has emerged as of late bearing the title “Don’t F**k in the Woods”
While we get the sarcasm intended, the film is ultimately doomed as long as it bears that title. Partially as a product that can’t be marketed and now a potential penalty against “sites” that posts reviews on it. The solution here is simple, but worth pointing out.
What to do? Is there hope?
All is not lost for those who are willing to do the work. Get down to editing and scrutinizing and you should be back on track. For those who stand their ground, be prepared for the backlash and search engine consequences that lie ahead.