Full disclosure: Bing is an advertiser on this site, yet BlueBlood.net does not on the first dozen pages of search results for a search on Blue Blood. SEO stands for search engine optimization. SEO is internet professional lingo for the process by which someone expert in this area would attempt to fix Bing’s search results so they would no longer be defective in this regard.
I’ve been really bummed out all day because of something Derek Powazek wrote. (Also, I made the mistake of watching this week’s brilliant but melancholy Mad Men on TiVo to snap myself out of it. Doh.) Halcyon first turned me on to Derek Powazek’s writing. Derek Powazek tends to write useful articles about how to make good web sites. He has an engaging style and manages to speak clear tech talk. I think we shook hands once at an event, but we do not know each other; I’m just a fan.
Entertainment industry professionals always used to joke with me and Forrest Black about Blue Blood in print being the “trade mag of cool”, maybe because we always found the next big thing and provided contact info. I suppose I’d be wildly wealthy today if I’d just marketed myself as a consultant and charged quite a bit more for that data than the price of a magazine. My focus, however, was just on making a good magazine. One of the coolest things about making a magazine, versus making a website, is that I could just mail anyone I thought was cool a free one. I never felt like I needed fancy press releases. I could just show what I created to people I respected and hope they liked it. I didn’t know it until years too late for this to be useful to me, but Blue Blood was far and away the highest circulation magazine in its niche. So I guess that all worked just fine, in some respects. But, for a web site, this becomes a lot more challenging because previously normal human journalists may freak out that they are being spammed when sent a press release, as opposed to physical freebies.
Here is where Derek Powazek’s “Spammers, Evildoers, and Opportunists” article really depressed me. His advice is to never SEO (see the witty title there). His article states that SEO does not work and also, because it works temporarily, it clogs up search engine results. (I think he should pick which is the problem.) He directs his readers to avoid making sites for Google and just make good web sites for one’s readers and tell people you know personally about them.
So here is why the “Spammers, Evildoers, and Opportunists” article really upset me. The whole time I was growing up, it was drummed into me that I absolutely had to get good grades and go to good schools, so I could get a good job and a good life. Okay, both my parents went to Harvard and I went to Wesleyan, but Wes is still one of the top universities in the country on all ranking lists. And that paired with a hot suit will get me a job as a nonsexual escort. Escorting is actually the only job I’ve ever done which required me to have an advanced education. As writing about that job for Hustler’s Chic got me my first non-music glossy magazine clip, I supposed I’ve arguably gotten two jobs for all those years of school. Kind of a sucky ROI.
But I digress. The point is that I was told to just work hard and do what I was supposed to do and I would be rewarded. And I fucking well wasn’t. So it upsets me being told once again that I need to just work hard and do what I’m supposed to do and I will be rewarded. I mean, I still do that because it’s just how I am wired at this point. Like the characters on Mad Men, there is a thin patina of mild disappointment on a lot of my experiences, but I no longer get wildly, dramatically, heart-breakingly disappointed, because I stopped believing my reward was just around the corner and would be given just for making something good which people liked.
In point of fact, for example, I work very hard on making BlueBlood.com a good site. But I spend my time creating and publishing content the readers will enjoy, not optimizing for Google or Yahoo or Bing. BlueBlood.com never makes the front page of Google for a freaking search for Blue Blood. This makes doing radio and TV shows much less beneficial than it should be. That site has actually only received 844 visits from Google total this month. And 143 of those were people searching for specifically blueblood.com. I don’t get why someone would type that into a search engine, but the point is that just working hard and doing good work are absolutely not enough. I would love it if someone from Google could explain why the heck that site is never indexed properly. Thank goodness I have extensive traffic resources outside of what search engines provide. And I work hard on those too. It makes me viscerally angry to see Twitter lighting up with venture capital rich tech gurus saying everyone else should just work hard, tell their friends they’re working on cool stuff, and sit around waiting for something good to happen. The Underpants Gnomes on South Park have a waaaaay better business plan.
I like to do the right thing and I enjoy working hard. But I am well aware that I pay a heavy price for the luxury of doing what I feel is the right thing on the road less traveled. And I am sick to death of being advised to keep doing the same thing while expecting different results.