Don't be content with poor content
I ranted not so long ago about some of the appalling misinformation that is not just around, but far too common. However, sometimes the problem is not in the accuracy of information, but the lack of any
useful or meaningful information at all.
I'm going to pick out an example again, but this isn't about this
case in particular. This is merely one example out of the thousands I could have readily have picked.http://searchengineland.com/10-ways-link-building-changed-last-10-years-246488
came to my attention via +aaron wall
on Twitter. It isn't a very long read, which is just as well given that it is a complete waste of whatever time is spent on it.
This article isn't horribly
inaccurate - at least, not in the way that things published by Larry Kim tend to be complete bullshit just hoping to sell more PPC. Instead it has opinions not clearly stated as opinions, generalisations and perspectives written as though facts, etc.
Example: "Much of this evolution was spurred by search engines directly — Google, for one, played an enormous part in cleaning up the web with its Penguin algorithm updates.
Combined with increasing user distaste for poorly placed links and a collective commitment from webmasters to give their users better experiences, we now exist in a world where link building is respectable, valuable and viable."
Man, I'd love to see what that
world looks like. Here in the real
world, link-building is actually more contentious in most ways than it was 10 years ago when it might be spammy, but everyone knew it worked. Today, even the phrase 'link building' will start a debate between reputable and knowledgeable SEOs about whether 'link-building' is the right term at all, etc.
I certainly don't remember us all sitting around in some giant think-tank and deciding that we were going to clean up our acts. From what I recall, people only
stopped even the worst and most cruddy link-building once it stopped working. Nothing whatever to do with user satisfaction, or some imagined collective wisdom. The wisdom only arrived once it stopped working, and I have no doubt at all, based on the volume of spammy emails still offering the very worst forms of link building, that it is still out there (we just don't see it working), and that if the penalties went away, it wouldn't be right back.
Anyway, its a '10 ways...' post, so lets get straight to the list. Yeah, its yet another list of things piece of content. I'm sure +Seth Godin
would be amazed at how remarkable these all are. Forgive them Seth, they know not what they do. ;)
The first 2 items on the list are fine. Nothing new, nothing remarkable, but, nothing to argue with either. Link-building has been most affected by the fact that there are penalties for misuse, and that misuse is harder to actually make work. Because, y'know, you've never heard that before, having just arrived on Earth.
The third item is sort-of okay, but cites no evidence, no experience, no nothing. Sure, that links from the same domain over and over don't count so much is commonly accepted, but in an article on SEL I expect to be told why. You can find a wealth of papers and patents that explain elements of this thinking, and the idea of bias and affiliation, yet the article just says it without any thought, explanation, or example.
That is always a warning sign in any articles on SEO you should be wary of, and watching for. Look for the why, or the examples. If the author isn't providing them, he probably doesn't know them, and is therefore at best merely serving up what he was told and never questioned. The echo chamber is strong there.
Back to our list post example though, and as we go down the list, so the quality goes down too. Item 4 is where it starts to get very much into opinion masquerading as fact, and still with no provisos, no examples, no qualifications.
"Guest posting, the process of writing an article and getting it published on an external publication, has come to be the “gold standard” of link building. Because the focus is on creating quality content to reach a new audience, it has far more value than just SEO value. There’s virtually no risk of penalty, and it’s not so complicated or intensive that the effort it takes outweighs the reward."
It isn't that +Jayson DeMers
so much, it is simply that this is such a personal view, depends so much on how good the articles are, where they are posted, etc. However, in that the only real value of the article to anyone is whatever link juice Jayson is getting from it, it is working for him, or at least, is clearly his full belief.
However, there is another school of thought, and one which I ascribe to, that says the value of the link is in the reader's mind, and their association of value to the linked resource. In other words, linking poor quality content to your brand is poor practice, while linking great quality content to your brand (even where the link is nofollowed) is far more valuable.
I've certainly written content that is designed to be linked in the minds of the readers (having them think: "this author really knows his stuff") where I know there is no chance of the link itself being seen by search engines directly. Instead, its the re-mentions, the readers going on to link directly to what they find on my client's site, that has the SEO value. The immediate value was in referring the readers themselves.
By item 5 of the list, +Jayson DeMers
is reduced to ironically made-up stuff. He declared that "Content standards have risen" when my post right here, and others' comments ( https://twitter.com/aaronwall/status/721222388747112448
) are saying exactly the opposite about this very article. This is not a high-standard piece of content. And anyone reading SEL back when it started will tell you that back then this sort of fluff would never
have made it past editorial control.
Fact is, content standards have plummeted, because there's this weird, wrongful idea that the most important attribute of content is to have lots of it, and always fresh. To churn it, on a schedule, rather than maybe only write when there is something that needs to be written and has value enough.
Well, I'm only halfway down the list, and point 4 and 5 together just stop me in my tracks for anything further but criticism. Frankly, that's where I'd close the page immediately, and remember that the last few pieces I read by Jayson were all of similar questionable quality and value.
For the purpose of this post, however, let me draw your attention to one final point on the list. Item 9 states "It's harder than ever to break in". This is both true, and false. It is true in that with the sheer volume and amount of content being churned by publishers, and with pretty much all of the publishers losing the faith and trust of quality of their readers, it can be hard to get attention. That's why it is a job, and a skill. That is why people pay for good writers.
And the truth is that being a good writer isn't about how you write. It is about how you think. It is about your understanding of the reader, of their thought processes and needs in relation to the topic. It is about knowing how to communicate the ideas and concepts in one mind to spark ideas and thinking in the minds of many. The spoon-feeding crap-content deluge, the giant 'flush' of turds through content schedules, isn't doing this. Its the sugar-rush without the nutrition.
And because of this incessant torrent of crap continually rushing past, when you do spot something good it stands out all the more. The very nature and volume of crap makes even good content seem truly excellent by comparison. That, is where Jayson's statement is false ... unless you write like Jayson, just for the link, and without any real care for being original, exceptional, or, to use Seth's word once more: remarkable.