Create Real Content, Not Blog Posts
July 09, 2007
Posted in Ken's Blog
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Jakob Nielsen wrote an article today, not a blog post, an article. Jakob doesn't blog, you see. He feels people should create articles with value, not posts to blogs.
Jakob's been a hero of mine since I first started researching Internet Marketing to sell a software product I was writing "way back when." And so has John Audette, who recently made a return appearance to the LED Mailing List, a list I still receive by good, old-fashioned e-mail.
The mention of John reminded me of a landmark series of articles that he wrote called "The Sweet 16." They had disappeared from the Web (I had tried searching for them some time ago). But it seems he republished this must-reading in late 2006...
I suspect that Jakob's article and John's resurgence combined with a "back of my mind" pet peeve about blogging to spark this post...
I dislike blogging for the same reason as Jakob -- too much noise, and not enough signal. I'm not sure why Jakob doesn't make his thinking available via an RSS feed, but the LED list does. Its home page, though, make the same fundamental point that Jakob does....
"The format is old-school: just a standard text email. The list is moderated to keep the posts relevant and it's delivered in a tidy, readable digest. The LED has a very high signal-to-noise ratio."
Jakob's excellent article, the above LED paragraph, and John's Sweet 16 illustrate compellingly what's wrong with blogging. It's hyped and pushed by a vocal minority who have a lot to say about very little. It's part of the next big thing, "Web 2.0."
But it's not Web 2.0. Both forums and mailing lists are "more Web 2.0" than blogging.
Most blogs deliver quickly "banged out" thoughts, some smarter than others, all the successful ones written by very clever people. But very few really push my thinking forward. None have impacted me the way Jakob's article did today or the way John's "Sweet 16" still do today.
The "signal to noise" ratio is so darn low that I'm not sure they're worth my time, even the time it takes to merely scan my reader to see if any might be worth reading further.
Blogging is a powerful vehicle for the small number of smart, erudite people who can "pop corn" quickly and efficiently, branding themselves in the process. But there's so much noise before you get to any signal.
And comments? Comments are not community. Blogging is just one-to-many broadcasting. Seth Godin even turns commenting off on his blog. Matt Cutts? I read what Matt has to say, but I've never read a comment because I just don't care what others say to Matt.
That's not to say that all blogs are useless. There are, of course, may excellent blogs. My favorite six are listed in the right column. But true quality, someone who impacts my thinking? Few and far between.
I suppose you can use "blogging" the way we do...
1) Ken's Blog I talk, infrequently, on whatever I like that has to do with e-business (and beyond, sometimes) online. It takes me time, though. It's just not in my nature to toss out pithy little nothings in new ways, but that have been said before.
2) SiteSell Insider We deliver lessons from running our own Web site, new techniques we are trying, what works and what does not. As a fairly successful Web business, those who follow us find this insider view interesting. And finally...
3) E-zine Alerts We provide an alternative to the vagaries of e-mail delivery, by alerting subscribers to mailouts of our e-zines.
But our blog is not really a "BLOG". Most people have come to equate blogs with something far different. The term "blog" has come to mean high quantity/low quality posts that amount to very little except what Jakob calls "information pollution." (And that's excluding the vast majority of blogs, which are splogs -- spam blogs.)
It's just not in me to spit out quick little observations. Here-today-and-gone-tomorrow information is just not the way to help people succeed at business And Search Engines see the difference, too...
At Site Build It!, behind the scenes with our massive bot behavior base, we can see how time-sensitive the blog bots/engines consider blog posts, compared to true content articles. Blog post get quick, short-lasting distribution (yes, there are exceptions, but those come closer to providing "articles" -- true content).
True content lasts.
Blogging is like being a shark -- keep swimming or sink and die. But Google respects great content. A collection of related , high-value content builds and holds traffic for years.
So why do I "blog"? Well, I do it my way, ignoring the feeling that I "need" to blog daily to be relevant. I do it when I have something to say that does not fit into our private Site Build It! forums.
Most of my spare business time is spent in the forums, commenting and helping SBI! owners there. So my specific business-building advice goes there. I might initiate a thread, or I might respond to questions about using Site Build It!, with answers that can be leveraged so that they are useful to many SBIers.
Forums are regarded as "old-fashioned" by Web 2.0 fanatics. But they are far more flexible and multi-faceted than blogs. Instead of the controlled, one-to-many broadcast nature of blogging, anyone can start a thread and those interested, I included, pitch in and reply. Over 30 outstanding moderators keep the signal-to-noise ratio high.
The LED is almost 100% user-generated, too. And it's 100% moderated, too, resulting in a high-quality publication. But even though it's distributed via RSS, it's not what most would consider a "blog."
Moderation and conversation is something that most bloggers just don't want to do. It requires a lot of work to do that. Fewer still reply to the comments. It takes even more time to reply.They are too busy working on their next post.
That's broadcasting, not Web 2.0.
There's no conversation. No community. Even in this blog, while we do moderate the comments, I've only replied to one or two. Somehow, I don't feel that the nature of this medium requires it. However...
Compare that to our forums, where I've made over 3800 posts. Some of them are quick and simple answers. I don't feel compelled to polish each answer into an article when simple help is required. But many of them are longer than this post, some of which become the basis for a future article, as do some of the posts of other SBIers.
And that's just one of 1,000 things I love about our forums. We distill important new thinking and strategies into articles for future SBIers. That way, superb old threads are not lost to posterity.
After all, who reads old posts in forums (although we do have a "Hall of Fame" for outstanding threads)? Just like blogs, while current threads may be interesting, they're lost to posterity if you don't hold on to, and summarize, what has not been said before.
Blogging? Give me a well-run, old-fashioned forum or mailing list any day of the week!
But blogging does give me an outlet to comment on something that's been bugging me lately Like blogs. ;-)
Thank you, Jakob and John, for stimulating this. I've finally got my arms wrapped around all this noise.
All the best,