Greg Howlett started an interesting discussion on Friday with a post Is this the best we can do? in which he wonders if the overall quality of posts on internet marketing blogs is not what it could or should be. Greg’s issue is with the same news stories being rehashed time and time again and with posts that have little relevance to internet marketing. I understand Greg’s frustration and he makes some valid points, but overall I disagree with him that there’s a general quality issue on internet marketing blogs.
Is There Too Much Rehashed News?
I read the following blogs (and many more) daily and each will cover much of the same news items the others also cover.
- Marketing Pilgrim
- Search Engine Journal
- Search Engine Land
- Search Engine Roundtable
- Search Engine Watch
Do I need to read the same story five times? Most of the time no. And most of the time I may read a particularly story on whichever blog I happened across first that day and either ignore the same story on the others or scan them quickly to see if they offer anything more. Sometimes a story interests me enough that I do want to read several different perspectives of it. And if you look over the recent history of posts for the above blogs you’ll notice that while they do provide nearly the same coverage on some stories they each offer many original posts as well.
Sure they overlap in coverage and they should. Each covers search engine marketing news. If Google decides to make their algorithm public tomorrow you can bet that every one of these five blogs will have a post about it. And if they didn’t they would be doing a disservice to their respective audiences and to themselves.
Buy two newspapers and compare the stories each covers. How many would you expect are going to be the same? You’ll likely find a lot of overlap and in some cases even the exact same article that was taken directly from one of the wire services.
A month or two ago I was looking at the selection of design magazines at the newsstand. I noticed that all were featuring stories on typography for that month. Maybe someone did a survey showing that readers wanted more typography coverage. I don’t know, but there they all were covering the same design subtopic. I glanced at the table of contents of each and picked up the few that I thought would be most interesting.
It’s perfectly normal to see the same coverage in competing media. Newspapers, magazines, and blogs compete for your attention. And if you indicate you’re interested in something they will all cover that something. It’s marketing 101. Give the people what they want.
There are also only so many topics and ideas. Every internet marketing topic has been covered somewhere. The next seo post you read probably won’t be a post on an original topic. It will hopefully be an original post on that topic, but don’t expect it will be the first time that topic has ever been written about.
Are Too Many Marketing Posts Irrelevant To Marketers?
Greg started thinking about what he views as an apparent lack of quality after coming across this post from Shoemoney about airport bathrooms. I agree that post has little relevance to marketers. If you read Jeremy’s blog you’ll know posts like that are part of what you’ll get. Shoemoney does have many posts relevant to affiliate marketing and internet marketing in general, which is why I subscribe, but when I came across this post I skipped it.
Guess what? I also skip many posts that are on relevant topics on many blogs each day. There’s only so much time in the day after all.
Greg assumes Jeremy’s bathroom post was written as linkbait and perhaps that was Jeremy’s sole purpose in writing it. The 500+ diggs the post received would lead one to believe it was written as linkbait. There’s a simple solution if you don’t want to see posts comparing airport bathrooms. Don’t link to them and don’t digg them. That so many people do both shows that there is market for these posts. Jeremy knows his audience better than you or I do.
Like beauty relevance is in the eye of the beholder. Pay per click advertising is clearly a topic relevant to internet marketing, but if you aren’t currently buying search ads the topic may not be relevant to you at the moment.
Again there are only so many topics that can be written about and if we’re trying not to duplicate what our fellow bloggers have written sometimes that will mean an off topic post. I don’t expect that every post on every blog I subscribe too will be relevant to me on every given day. I’ll read the ones I want and skip the rest. If I find a blog consistently straying too far from my interests I’ll unsubscribe.
Most of the blogs I read daily offer me enough of interest and quality to keep me coming back each day.
What’s A Blogger To Do?
If you blog it’s inevitable that you will write something that’s already been written about. It’s inevitable that you will stray from your topic on occasion. And it’s inevitable that not every post you write will be your best or up to your usual standard for quality. None of those mean your blog is derivative, irrelevant, or lacking in quality. Some posts will be any or all of the above, but a blog is not characterized by a single post.
In choosing what I blog about I choose topics that interest me and that I hope and think will interest you. I’m sure I miss the mark often enough. Most blogs have individual posts miss their mark, but that doesn’t mean the blog itself has a quality problem.
Write posts that first and foremost interest you. Before you can write something that someone else finds interesting it has to interest you. Learn what your audience wants and do your best to give it to them. No one is going to like every post you write. Most won’t expect to. If you can make them happy most of the time they’ll come back.
Don’t worry if you write about something that’s been covered before. You can’t assume your audience will have read the other coverage, though you should accept that they might have. Write from your own unique perspective and cover the story in a way that’s different. The originality will come from your voice and not necessarily the topic itself.
Don’t be afraid to write about something off topic. Yes, do attempt to keep things on topic as much as you can, but there’s no reason why you can’t write about something you normally don’t. It’s actually a good way to stretch yourself as a blogger. If you can, tie your off topic post to your topic. Jeremy’s bathroom post could easily have been marketing related if he related the quality of airport bathrooms to the quality of copy on ads.
Understand that the quality of posts you read has as much to do with you as it does with the bloggers writing those posts. You choose what you read and if you find the posts you come across are lacking you have the ability to read different blogs. You can unsubscribe from a blog at any time (except, of course, for this one) and you can find new blogs that will offer what you want.
I do understand where Greg is coming from and there are times when it does seem like every blog in my reader is posting the same tired information that I read yesterday or last week. But when I look at the overall quality of posts that come in front of me each day I don’t see a quality problem. And if I ever do it’s easy enough to change the posts that are in front of me. There are a lot of interesting and insightful blogs. Some you’ve already found and some you haven’t.
What do you think? Are internet marketing blogs lacking in quality? Have they become derivatives of each other and themselves? If so what can be done to improve the situation? Are there specific topics you’d like to see me cover that I haven’t?