Friday, March 05, 2010

The desert 'love lost lawyer'

There is a body of internet practice called search engine optimization or SEO. It is the art and science of engineering a web page, or blog posting, to try to ensure the page floats to the top of the results dellivered by Google and other search engines when certain phrases are the subject of a search.

One look at this page and you'll see what I mean.  Titled "Twentynine Palms Wrongful Death Attorney, Lost Love Lawyer and People Search Attorney for Twentynine Palms -- Find Your Lost Love," the page features a 1325-word supposed article about a lawyer in the desert town of Twentynine Palms, Calif., a small town adjacent to both Joshua Tree National Park and the world's largest Marine Corps base. According to the article, a lawyer named Sebastian Gibson will attempt to "find your lost love or obtain compensation for you for the wrongful death of a loved one ... (using) the highest quality legal resources that can be utilized to find the person you are looking for."

In reality, this so-called article consists of repetitions of certain stock phrases, reworded into a variety of different sentences. The idea behind SEO is that you can't just put a bunch of phrases onto a page over and over again; you have to make it look (to the bot, at least) like an actual blog posting. This is where the art comes in: to cram as many key words as possible into something that looks like an actual article. 

Such an "article" begs comparisons to the compositions of certain dull-minded high school students with whom I made my acquaintance back when I was an English teacher. In each class I always had a couple of students who couldn't write at all, and who, when assigned to write an essay, would simply string together certain key phrases, usually drawn from the question itself. Asked about the character traits that make Atticus Finch so memorable, such a student might write, "Atticus Finch had very good character traits that made him memorable. These traits showed good character, such as memory and strengh. I thought Atticus Finch was a strong character and had a good trait." (Only they were actually more poorly written than that.)

Clearly the so-called article exists entirely to draw the attention of search engines to the law practice of Mr. Gibson -- and a search on his name reveals he makes something of a hobby of SEO. Or maybe it's someone in his office, or some internet SEO firm he's hired. It looks like he's getting his money's worth.

But what I'm interested in is the mythical qualities embodied in this picture. The lawyer in the remote desert town whose practice is, in part, the search for "lost loved ones." In between working on a few wrongful death cases, he trolls the internet looking for your old high school girlfriend -- or maybe, in the case of Marines returned from their third or fourth deployment in the war on terror, that foxy female tank mechanic they used to drink beer with in Tikrit back in  2005.

This cries out to be a movie, starring perhaps Jim Carrey or Woody Harrelson,  as a hard-drinking lawyer with a client played by, I don't know, Ben Affleck. The client is trying to find an ex, played by Charlize Theron (if this were the 80s she would be played by Nastassja Kinski, a la Paris, Texas). The film could be written as a straighforward comedy, but I like it better as a bittersweet film (again, a la Paris, Texas), the real subject being the fact that the lawyer character's life was wrecked when he lost the love of his life (played in the present by Helen Hunt and in flashbacks by, say, January Jones).

Related: The Lonely Brinks 'Stockroom' Man

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Jay said...

That's funny. Actually if you google "lost love lawyer" you will find the same 'article' written about attorneys all over the United States. They all seem to have recently found their lost loves! Thank you for your excellent blog. I have enjoyed it for more than a decade.

Jay said...

That's funny. Actually if you search google for "lawyer lost love" you come up with lawyers all over the country who have just recently rediscovered their lost love. I enjoy your blog and have for more than a decade.