Marcel Proust à la Recherche de Search Engine Optimization
As he wandered through a sycamore grove haunted by violet shades and the scent of the end of a half-warm day, Marcel’s mind turned to the cultivation of his platform. Early memories of browsing through blossoming Yahoo categories whilst sitting on his mother’s lap, ever dreading the moment when the troublesome whimpering of the dial-up modem’s plaintive sign off would spell the end of the browser session and the harsh separation from his beloved beautiful parent and also from endless streams of animated GIFs and other jewel-like delights crowded his thoughts.
Now, his agent in Paris troubled him endlessly, between beastly munches at his favorite cafe, about the platform, always this ceaseless presence that haunted him from the Moment his feet left the train till the moment he was able to return to the peace of the countryside.
“Your work is excellent Marcel. Excellence alone is meaningless. I have it on good authority that there are several excellent statues – of a quality that would make Michelangelo weep – trapped within great boulders in a quarry somewhere in France. If only we could find them!”
Marcel wrapped the soft linen napkin around his fingers until his hand looked something like a young dove, eager to fly away from pens and papers and from knives and forks.
“What would you have me do? I am afraid that the weak condition of my lungs would prohibit me from undertaking anything so wearisome as a weekly podcast, even with all of the fulsome support provide by the iTunes infrastructure.”
His agent laughed, and when he laughed Marcel remembered when they had first met that giddy night at the Moulin Rouge so many years ago as the dancing girls surrounded them like a circle of protective swans at the launch party for Monsieur D’s episodic young adult fiction tumblr.
“Nothing so vigorous, Marcel. But looking at your work, I see the opportunity for greater Search Engine Optimization. When it goes online, what will the spiders find there? A great many topics that are of interest to you, but you’ve already read the thing haven’t you?
“If we were to make it longer, and to add in some items for which the common man is searching, make it a very rich content source of high value for key terms – while preserving its marvelous lyrical qualities – I feel it could be a breakout.”
Marcel tweaked his mustache. How many of the indignities of his life could have been avoid if only he had been a breakout?
“Which terms should I include?”
“Well, I had a list to send you but off the top of my head I would suggest lesbians for sure. People like pictures, so some stuff about paintings. Horticulture is huge… lots of stuff about bushes. Current events, so everyone is buzzing about war with the Germans, get that in. Erm… Cats maybe”
“Very well, I’ll return home and add those items. I should warn you that I am abuzz with SEO ideas now and the book may very well extend beyond its current 200 pages.”
“All the better. Multiple volumes will be treated as separate domains by Google.”
They parted at the door just as night began to dissolve the bonds of everyday politeness.
“I think we are almost there Marcel. But the current opening is weak and it is that which will appear summaries. You need to grab their attention with something visceral.”
“Hold off on lesbians a while, my dear friend. Anyway, you’ll have time to stew on it on your train ride.”
They parted and soon Marcel found himself seated in the handsomely padded carriage, being lulled toward sleep by the gentle energy of the steam powered juggernaut.
He was hungry, the most base of sensations and one that unified him with the sleeping peasants he saw from his window as he paused at a quiet station at C_____, sleeping and doubtless waiting for a child to return from the city, holding one another as a charm against the night, and on their laps, surrounded by tiny crumbs he saw a delightful treat which they had brought and not touched at all as they patiently waited: delicious home-made madeleines.
People loved cakes. Major SEO.
And so he returned to his cork-lined bedroom for an evening of calm and thoughtful content engineering.
Translated from the original French by Zizek Press Paris Bureau Chief, Élodie Malade