In a world of ever-increasing complexity, whether that be in the number of gadgets that surround our lives, or the impressive technology that we have in our pockets at any one time, there is a yearning for some things that are simple and effective. One of the most simple yet effective ‘things’ that I use is Markdown, a lightweight markup language with very simple syntax. In running the tech-side of a Manchester SEO business, Markdown is something that I find myself using on all manner of devices, and for lots of different reasons.

My office computer is an Acer Chromebook Spin 15 with an external monitor, my home office machine runs Linux Mint with three external monitors, and the current laptop that I use is a Macbook Pro. On each of these machines, I use a different flavour of Markdown editor, yet because of the simple language and plain text nature of Markdown, it feels as though I am using the same app no matter what the platform I use.

On Linux, I use Marker, on Chrome OS, I use Minimalist Online Markdown Editor, and on the Mac, I use Macdown.

What is Markdown though?

It’s a simple way for less technical people to be able to write documents that can easily be turned into HTML. There is no need to think about opening and closing tags, and because of the sheer simplicity of the editing techniques compared to HTML (or other similar languages), you find yourself being able to write in a much better flow.

Here’s just one simple example of Markdown in action. Below is the HTML version (red) followed by the Markdown version (green) of a page heading.

<h1>This is a page heading</h1>

# This is a page heading

The Markdown example is so much easier to comprehend, and the more content you write, the more comprehensive both the text and the structure of a document is. For example, adding a link in Markdown, compared to a link in HTML is much more simple and intuitive. See the examples below:

<a href=”cheese.com”>Cheese</a>

[Cheese](cheese.com)

Once again, much more intuitive.

But WHY do I use Markdown as an SEO?

Not every job that I do as an SEO is tweaking on-page SEO factors, or building links to pages. Oftentimes, it involves the creation of content for web pages. Or in various administration duties. Even if I am writing a document to share with teammates, I now write this in Markdown, due to that being the editor of choice for the most-excellent Notion platform.

Because of the sheer simplicity, I find myself using Markdown no matter what the task. I even created a CMS that uses Markdown and then converts content to HTML as a page loads. 

Despite writing “<a href….” thousands of times during my SEO career, I have made many a mistake, and just the same with other tags that I have failed to close, or miss-typed the syntax. Maybe it’s because I’m getting older that I like to use Markdown – or maybe it reminds me of a simpler time. like when I was used to green screen displays with no graphical user interfaces? Maybe Markdown is just clean and simple, and it improves my output. Who knows?

What I do know is that as an SEO, using Markdown “cleanses the palate”, gets away from anything remotely technical, lets me create content, build to do lists, or write knowledge base articles. In a job that can be highly technical, Markdown feels like putting a blanket over your head, and just you and the screen are at one.

Heck, I even wrote this blog post in Markdown.

James Welch

James is a digital industry veteran, and has worked various roles from SEO, head of research, to director level. He is a content nerd, and loves nothing more than demanding that evermore content is added to client sites - as well as the Embryo blog!