Seven Habits of Highly Ineffective SEO Bloggers
Since SEO education is as much about knowing the basics of what it takes to index and rank a web site as it is staying abreast of the latest trends and algorithm changes, reading SEO blogs is an important part of any SEO training process. At Resolution Media we have a ranked blogroll that we use to help our employees navigate the blogosphere. Recently I’ve added quite a few blogs from the TopRank Big List, increasing the number of search blogs on our blogroll to 412, and have noticed that quite a few of these blogs have a rating of “1 – disposable”—even many of those that are listed on the Big List. There are a number of reasons for a blog getting a low rating on our blogroll, including being less relevant to our client base, but many of them are simply there because of lazy marketing writers with little to say. If you’re an SEO Blogger, please help me in making the blogosphere a better place for all of us by eliminating these 8 worst practices from your blogging bag of tricks.
1. Headline Templates I understand none of us is Chaucer or Shakespeare (and not all of us even graduated summa cum laude with honors in English), but can’t we be a little more creative than these cut and paste headlines? If you’re using any of the following formulas to get my attention, please consider another phrase. These don’t work:
A. Take a Pop Culture Reference or Movie Quote and Substitute Search Terms Example: [x], and [y] and [z], Oh My!, where x, y, and z are innovations in the search space that the audience isn’t entirely comfortable with. Examples include widgets and blogs and avatars and anything that may come up in search in the next six months. This Wizard of Oz template is the one I see used most often, but it’s not alone.
B. Ten Things That You Need to Know About X See “Lists” below. It’s also frustrating to click through one of these lists and find that I know all ten points, and only four of them are important.
C. Is X Dead? Let me see a show of hands. Is there anyone out there who clicked through to find that X really was dead? Or was it not actually dead but rumors to the contrary have been floating around recently even though the blogger knows better? Chances are that the latter is most likely true, making this formula a rhetorical question no one has to click through to see the answer.
2. Sexy Search Jargon Every time I hear the phrase “link juice” or “link love” I throw up a little in my mouth. Mmmph. Oh god, there I go…
Let’s not make this more exciting than it is, folks. I’m as jazzed about SEO as the next guy, but the phrase you’re looking for is link equity or link popularity. This metaphor is disgusting, and has the subtlety of the planes at the beginning of Dr. Strangelove. Give me something I can use when explaining the concept to my client, please, and keep your cyberversions to yourself.
3. Parroting Example: “This happened. Thanks to this blog for the tip. The end.” This happens a lot on WebProNews and is one of the reasons why I remove most of the content from it from my reader. It’s one thing if you contribute to the conversation, but in the search blogosphere if you’re not adding anything, you’re detracting. “Me-too” posts don’t help any of us— but especially not you if you use them regularly.
4. Star Wars/LOTR/Xena/Buffy references We’re all geeks, but we’re not all geeks. You know? I appreciate you trying to put this in a metaphor that everyone can understand, but why do we need metaphors when your audience is here because of SEO? Speak to me like an adult, please. I don’t know about your clients, but mine don’t live and work in Middle Earth.
Standard English is preferred in this marketing conversation.
5. Talking about their cats I’m looking at you, big man. I’m saying this somewhat facetiously; because I appreciate that everyone has lives outside of SEO, including me. However, I read search blogs because I’m interested in search, and not necessarily the new album/movie/web site unrelated to search that you’re in love with right now. Save your other passions for when you buy me a drink at SES/SMX, and tell me something I don’t know about search when I read your search blog.
6. Using the M-word Does the fact that a certain individual with a Hawaiian-named web site hates us and what we do make it absolutely necessary for us to mention him every day for five months? It’s not as bad lately, but as someone who routinely increases traffic and conversions by helping clients with indexing and ranking their web sites, I know this guy’s full of poi.
I don’t need a reminder every day of my life for six months. Let’s talk instead about something that could help us all do what we do better.
7. Lists I used this format to get you in the door, but in general I think lists are overused and rarely effective. I know that they’re an easy way to write an entry and are frequently recommended as linkbait, but a large percentage of the top ten lists that I read are one good point with nine pieces of filler. Before you post a list, make sure all of them are essential. If not, a lot of us will become numb to them and delete before clicking through.
Of course, this particular list focuses on things SEO Bloggers should stop doing, but what should they start doing? This blogger knows that he will start working on avoiding the 7 steps mentioned above in his posts, and hopes you will follow suit. Finally, in closing I’d like to recommend that marketing bloggers like us start by knowing their limitations as writers. If you’re a search blogger who is guilty of committing one or all of these offenses on a regular basis, maybe it’s time to hire an editor or writer to do your dirty work. Or at the very least, read Strunk & White ASAP. Because bad writing is still bad writing, and good writing is still preferred—whether it’s online, in print, or on your marketing blog.