Yesterday, I spoke at Innovation Depot to a room full of entrepreneurs about blogging. I told them how to turn content they’ve already created into blogs, how to create a team of staff writers, how to use keywords to get noticed on Google, and how to use social media to advertise a blog.
We got lots of questions at the end, but one in particular has stuck with me: Why is there so much junk content on the Internet, and why would we want to contribute to the glut of nonsense that already floods our social media feeds and inboxes by pushing out content even when we have nothing to say?
I thought it was a great question, and smart bloggers (and Instagrammers and blog readers and Twitterers and Facebookers) will keep it in mind. Can we get traffic and get attention from Google by strategically publishing junk content — blogs and posts that are so shallow that they don’t say much of anything? Sure. But should we?
I don’t think so. I think it’s worth trying to craft real, interesting, unique content that honors the time our readers choose to spend with us. I’m certainly not saying I do that perfectly, but I do try hard. Crafting creative blogs and social media posts takes a lot of time, and spending that time can be tough to justify, but I think it’s worth making the effort to avoid putting more meaninglessness into the world.
But even if you don’t feel an ethical pull to craft authentic content, there’s a reason to consider doing it anyway — because creating strong content is the only way to truly “beat” the Google algorithm that controls what’s shown on the first page of a Google search. It’s true that you can game Google a little bit by using keywords and SEO, by coding your headlines differently, and by getting listed with Google Places (or Google My Business or Google+ Business or whatever it’s called now). But it’s also true that Google changes the game all the time, and as soon we figure out how to beat their system, they reconfigure it. The only thing Google really wants from us is strong content, and if we’ve got that at the core of our websites, we’re much more likely to be immune to constant changes.
That’s not to say we should avoid the tricks that can get us noticed by Google. For those of us serious about our blogs, that stuff is helpful — to a point. But it’s also important to remember that what our blogs and emails and posts actually say is valuable. If your blogging strategy doesn’t have good content at its heart, you’ll forever be chasing after Google’s updates and changes.
Oh, and if you missed the talk but you’re interested in learning more about this stuff, email Infomedia at firstname.lastname@example.org to sign up for their email list. They host monthly Lunch & Learns where they provide a free lunch (Usually from locally-owned Taziki’s, yay!), and I’ll be speaking at more events for them in the future. (I also wrote a blog for Infomedia yesterday, and you can read it here if you’re into that sort of thing.)
Carrie Rollwagen is author of The Localist: Think Independent, Buy Local and Reclaim the American Dream, creator of 30 Days of Local Praise and co-founder of Church Street Coffee & Books. Find her on Instagram, Facebook and Twitter @crollwagen.