Driving in today took a while. First snow in Philadelphia and the state hits the brakes – literally.
It forced me to stop my world, momentarily. I was thinking about this post I read last night; moreso, the comments. Instead of being about strategies or tactics, the work we do, running a business, or managing clients, this post was a commentary on our industry.
We’re a digitally grown industry (one of the first!) with our classroom in forum boards and blog posts. We’re going to be a little sideways sometimes. If you’re not completely engulfed, and can get a bird’s eye view, try it. We’re kind of absurd sometimes. But absurd is fun and educational. I also consider myself quite lucky to be making money in this industry.
As a collective, we spend plenty of time telling each other how we think this industry should be. Every SEO convention in 2012 had the virtual banner of “change or die.” A very popular, very bright SEO asked me after Mozcon, “this was fun, but I’m still successful bumping up rankings the way I’ve been doing it.” It grounded the entire 3 day event and equalized the hype that had been somehow hypnotizing me. It was a useful smack.
I stand by my statement: SEO has a lot of definitions, all of them are right. This industry is the United Nations, and always has been. It’s pretty evident this will only grow. And I don’t mean simply regarding your area of expertise in SEO, but your agenda as well.
Maybe you have one, none, or many of these traits or experiences:
- Humble beginner.
- Conceited ego.
- Want to be personalities or popular.
- The love helping others.
- Like to share.
- A marketing background.
- Like to be first.
- Want to be linked to higher profile SEOs, network with the elite.
- Black hat tendencies but claim to be white hats.
- SAAS developers who sell tools to clean up their crappy links.
- Writer who know very little about the technical side of SEO.
- Obsessed with link building.
- Just like to argue.
- Algorithm chasing.
- Desperately trying to find their voice.
- In-house marketers thinking about making the leap to consulting.
Maybe none of these apply, but you probably could come up with your own list. What can we learn from you?
All We Need Is Value
Despite who you are and why you’re in this industry, what are you really giving us? Why are you blogging? Why are you presenting? Why are you speaking out on Twitter?
I’m a musician. I’ve always had disdain for the artist who says, “we play what we like. If others like it, so be it.” I don’t buy that for a second. If public-facing musicians who say this were telling the truth, they’d never leave their garage. They’d never want to be performers. This is just something they say to sound profound (ahem, Pearl Jam).
If we’re striving to be heard in this industry, we obviously want to be a performer (or, insert your word here) on some level. I’m referring to the bloggers, the speakers, and anyone who uses any medium to be heard. I’m not referring to people who have casual conversations on Twitter or blogs and forums.
Think about what you’re adding. Think about your words that are being immortalized. Even if you’re wrong (everyone from SEOmoz to Search Engine Land has been scrutinized for some comments that simply didn’t wind up making sense), at least you’re driving at value. Putting something out there allows for our own form of socratic method, and leads to a more centralized answer.
Get Out Of The Echo Chamber
To repurpose a comment I left on Jon’s post (this post is really an expansion on that comment anyway):
Size doesn’t always matter. Posts and articles are like music compositions. The memorable songs uniquely mix themes, ornamentals, and emotions.
So here we’re talking about our industry; for our clients maybe there is value in a long-tail targeted rehash if you already have the presence of mind. It’s possible (again, no rules to a composition). But in the deeply psychological world of marketing (for those SEOs who consider it marketing, it’s not all of us), thought pieces are really valuable. A certain kind of composition proves to leave more behind.
It’s a problem where some of us crank out posts. It’s a problem where we curate things that are rehashed because a bigger SEOs name is on it (something Inbound.org has gotten better with) or because the headline was sexy. It’s also disrespectful of our time. I don’t have the time to read all day so I focus on those I trust. How many articles have you bailed out of already today? I’d like to learn from other unique viewpoints and experiences, so for our industry, considering Jon’s advice going forward would be a great thing for many like-minded writers/SEO/marketers.
Want To Help The Industry?
Before you publish, audit yourself and think about how you can “optimize” your contributions. You may have a point of view, but do you have any value? Or did someone say it better – curate that. Wait for your moment to share something that really matters.