The other day, the folks at one of the most followed SEO companies out there, Moz, posted their weekly video lesson/blog. The topic, “Why Good Unique Content Needs to Die“. The premise is that most people write or make stuff on their site that is just good enough to blend in with what everyone else is doing for their same topic/vertical. For years now, we’ve been told that our websites need to have crap like this. Moz claimed we all need to raise the bar and meet or exceed the quality of the best piece of content for whatever search query where we’re trying to optimize.
I’ve been beyond frustrated with content marketing bullshit for years prior to this post, but I think this was the last straw. Not because anything egregious took place in this video, but because this video perpetuates the very thing it claims to denounce. Every week, and this is no exception, Whiteboard Friday is just good enough to be passable. It offers ideas and opinions (although rarely firmly puts a foot down in support of one opinion, to be blandly fair to all) that are interesting to junior marketers or people outside of marketing who have the power to order marketing people around. If you do your job at all well, with any degree of experience, these videos are useless.
And not to immediately detract my point, but that’s fine. There needs to be beginner level information. It’s how most of us learn in a world with mediocre education programs and zero on-the-job training. But the fact remains, it’s not great quality stuff. Nobody will hail the words of Rand Fishkin, for all he’s done as an ambassador to SEO, as a revolutionary. Heck, if you took an outsider from the industry and presented them with my thoughts (speaking as essentially a nobody) alongside his, most people wouldn’t know who the lauded thought leader was amongst us.
And that’s exactly the problem.
Modern marketing has built an empire of churning empty bullshit in the guise of offering help, in order to push agendas and sell more product. Pieces like the video in question have replaced the old “…from the Editor” pieces in magazines in the worst way. The goal is not true to the tradition of expressing bias but important views, or offering valid commentary on the industry. No, it’s all about shoving more fucking product down our throats.
All of these goons have more to gain from our pageviews than we have to gain from their advice. Always. If you hear Rand’s words and fear that your precious content isn’t good enough, of course the logical next step is to get a Moz subscription and use their analysis tools to judge how you stack up to the competitors. Your business may not make an extra dime, but at least nobody can knock your domain authority score.
The harsh truth everyone ignore remains, virtually nobody has built a successful business on content outside of the media. Your business definitely should not represent itself poorly with some garbage articles written by an Indonesian kid with a 3rd grade comprehension of English, but if you used a time machine to get Allen Ginsberg to write your product descriptions or how-to articles, you aren’t going to find yourself much better off in the end.
Marketing is simple. Have a good product that somehow makes lives better. That could be a softer toilet paper, a cheaper cell phone plan or a vodka distilled more times. It doesn’t really matter. Then find a clever way to get that product in front of the people most likely to benefit. Simple, right? It’s at least a hell of a lot easier than hiring a bunch of bloggers and praying for miracles.