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Why Arrington blogs about porn (seomoz.org)
33 points by steve19 on July 16, 2009 | hide | past | web | favorite | 15 comments

I'm not disputing his advice which will probably work but I have to say SEO people seem shadier and shadier to me. SEO started out as a way to make your existing content turn up for people who were searching for it but now it's turned into "blog about this because people search a lot for it" and that seems wrong to me.

I guess it's the same instinct that's eaten every other industry (see TV and marketing execs) it's just sad to see the web going down that road.

Oddly, that is precisely wrong. SEO used to be about manipulating search engine rankings -- having the word "mortgages" in white text on a white background 5000 times on all your pages, or building a giant link farm to inflate pagerank.

Now it's about getting people to read content -- by creating content people like to read. I guess there's something to be said for appealing to smaller, less trendy groups (but that's part of SEO, too; the ROI on dominating obscure searches is often higher than for more mainstream searches, simply because a long search string is more likely to lead to a sale -- you Google [web design] (http://www.google.com/search?q=website+design) to learn about web design; you try [nyc website design firm] (http://www.google.com/search?q=nyc+website+design+firm) when you're ready to hire, e.g., the company I work for).

The problem a lot of people have with SEO is that when they notice it, it's done badly. But another way to restate the problem is that most people have no problem with SEO, because they only notice it when it's done badly.

that seems wrong to me

Wait, what?

I spend significant effort and money on content creation. Decisions as to what content to produce next are often driven by user suggestions or analytics data -- i.e. "Oh, it looks like a lot of people are searching for baby shower bingo cards, I guess I should write some baby shower bingo cards, because then more people will find my site and this will make me money."

So people get the content they want and I get money... tell me where we're going wrong here, again? Would it be somehow cleaner if, rather than using evidence as to what my customers enjoy, I just put my finger to the wind and guessed? I did that for a while -- I'm not a terrible guesser but why should I watch 80% of my content budget produce pages that are grossly less effective than my average?

This isn't "what your customers like" it's "what will draw in a bunch of people who may or may not be interested in your content".

Your customers/readers are people who already enjoy what you do and tailoring it to them is, as you suggest, just an issue of selecting between multiple things you already wanted to write. But creating your comment in a way that draws in people who may have no interest in your content doesn't seem right to me. It seems like an act of deception in that you aren't enhancing the content you're creating but trying to make it look like something else.

In other words, if Techcrunch was a site that wrote about porn I'd have no problem with them using SEO to make sure they appear higher on searches for porn. But this article suggests they put the word "porn" into their articles to register higher even though that isn't the topic they write on and that bugs me.

I don't mind what you do - nor do I think the parent does - but techchrunch is not a porn site, and it is not a blog about porn, when they write about porn it annoys those who come there to read tech news.

The porn industry has a lot of early adopters. How they're using a technology is a good leading indicator of how everyone else is going to use it.

yah, i can think of something wrong with what you're doing - no offense, you asked. the problem is that you are unlikely to know much about baby shower bingo cards, and you are unlikely to gain any new valuable insight or quality material to share about baby shower bingo cards. more likely, far more likely, you are going to write a short article with minimal information extrapolated out about things you found while googling baby shower bingo cards

-- but let's give you some more quality prestige: let's say that you spend a week looking into this matter and think of something that you think people might actually want to know -- well, i doubt you had anything valuable to say still, because that's just enough time to get caught up on what others have to say

which is all to say, that the only person you can possibly help is another novice as yourself going in, someone who knows almost nothing about baby shower bingo cards. for such people we have things like wikipedia, and perhaps someone who knows a bit about them will write more.

you see, supposing that i wanted to know about baby shower bingo cards, i would prefer that the kind of content i find is from people genuinely interested in them, genuinely interested in sharing information about them, because those are the people that are going to do a real quality job, and have vested interest in improving that conversation.

if there is little material out there about baby shower bingo cards, and not big of a group, well let the demand grow, and someone actually interested will produce some quality content.

is it wrong? well, it's not that bad, you're not doing anything oh so terrible, and i could say many bad things about advertisers in general, but i have a term for people like you...and that term is noise.

it's quite alright, you can keep doing it if you think it right. It is up us, the people like me, to solve our own problem, to figure out how to get your noise, and those like you, out of our way. It's a bit of a challenging problem, so thanks for giving us all more puzzles to solve.


I'm sorry, I don't get how a guy who runs a business based on bingo cards could possibly not know about bingo cards? Am I missing something?

No, I was missing something. I read 'baby shower bingo cards' as an example of random internet fad. I was basing my comment on past experience writing for someone who would look up the underexploited search terms first and then build short-lived blogs/sites around those underserved search markets.

Ahhh, that makes more sense - thanks for clarifying :)

I have the same situation on my blog. I get consistent hits from people looking for porn because I've mentioned porn a couple of times. I've been sorely tempted to serve special ads just for them...

Likewise, although in my case it's often unintentional!

I wrote a satirical post on the elderly called "Old People Suck" and spent 3 years trying to get rid of regular searchers looking for porn containing, well... use your imagination.

Why we worry about Arrington?

Predictable, content-insensitive comment. Plenty of people have a problem with Zed Shaw, or Joel Spolsky, or Jeff Atwood, or Michael Arrington, or ___________, but it's really tedious to hear the same whining with every story that comes across this site.

i actually plan on writing my own SO clone this weekend with my own compiler that i plan on releasing under the GPL so its funny you mention that

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