A Letter to the SEO Community: Nobody Owes You Anything

SEO Unique’s Matthew Ridout is calling out popular search engine optimization bloggers like Matt Cutts and Rand Fishkin because they’re bloody boring and haven’t been keeping him properly amused or informed with their optimization pearls of wisdom lately. Poor guy, relying on others is so hard.

He writes:

"I understand you can’t make up new findings but I can think of 101 different topics to write about that would be more interesting and related to seo."

Then why are you wasting your time on Matt and Rand? Go write those posts and steal some of their readers while Matt is busy blogging about Halloween costumes and Rand is writing about bunnies or whatever it is the Mozzers are covering these days. ;)

Personally, I enjoy off-topic posts, most of the time (Scoble drives me crazy). It gives you that glimpse into the author’s life that you can’t get while they’re talking about the search engine optimization basics. But that’s me. The four posts from Matt and Rand that SEO Unique outed as lacking in quality happen to be four posts that I truly enjoyed. I thought the two posts he named from SEOmoz were some of the best stuff they’ve produced lately. Were they strictly search engine optimization-related? Not really, but did they give something to the community? I think they did.

If you disagree and you think SEOmoz is getting too fluffy for you, then delete it from your feed reader and use the time you spent reading that blog to go write your own. It’s that type of entrepreneurial spirit that this industry is based on.

I’m not picking on Matthew. Plenty of people have echoed the same complaints, especially lately. There was even a thread on Sphinn not so long ago semi-complaining/semi-joking about the lack of conference coverage that was available for SMX Travel. Suddenly there is a sense of entitlement to free conference coverage and stellar blog entries. It sort of makes me giggle. When did that happen? What did people do before livebloggers came about?

I feel like while California is burning to the ground and people are watching their personal belongings go up in smoke, that it’s a good time to remind people that nobody owes you anything. We all have to work hard to achieve the things we want.

Rand and Matt do not owe you blog posts on the exact topics that you’re interested in. You are not owed extensive conference coverage. And you’re definitely not owed high Google rankings. Be thankful for the educational search engine optimization coverage that is out there, realizing that most people don’t get paid to blog. Matt Cutts? Yeah, he has a job working at Google. He blogs in his personal time. If he wants to blog about his cats, I say bring it on. You can’t be all work, all the time.

Instead of calling people out, view the off-topic posts as an opportunity to establish yourself as an industry leader. If you have 101 different blog entries on search engine optimization sitting in your head, go write about them. I would love to read them and I bet others will too. If there’s a concept you think should be explored, start a conversation about it. If you think there’s a tool the industry could benefit from, go and build it. That’s how you become a Rand or Matt. That’s how you get targeted links, gain the authority, create some goodwill, and get people talking about what you’re doing. That’s the stuff that great link magnets are made of.

Lisa Barone is a writer, content marketer & VP of strategy at Overit Media. She's also a very active Twitterer, much to the dismay of the rest of the world.

See Lisa's author page for links to connect on social media.

Comments (23)
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23 Replies to “A Letter to the SEO Community: Nobody Owes You Anything”

@ shor – you came close ;)

Darn you, I don’t comment a lot on your blogs, but this one made me do it. I loved it. I am actually jealous at how well you write and the topics you tackle.
Personally, it is good to know that these guys don’t thing SEO all freakin day long! I still LOVE Cutts’ post on the dog that looked just like firefox’s logo! One of my all time favorites.
Keep bloggin guys/gals, on or off topic!

I think the ‘offtopic’ posts help define the SEOmoz ‘personality’ and help (most) SEOmoz readers relate to the bloggers. The ability to create that type of personal connection… well, that’s blogging gold.

PS. I’m pissed that my Moz post about breasts didn’t make Matt R’s list :P

There you go! off-topic once again!
I agree wholeheartedly – I like reading personal tidbits about people on their blog. Makes them seem real.

I agree. Drag us in with a nice juicy worm, but don’t deliver fly larva and starve us. Our time is valuable as well.

I look forward to seeing some new content and a new tool at seomoz rand.

Lisa – I agree with you 100%. I think if you care about the people that you are reading, then the personal posts become more interesting to you. Rand’s most recent Snippets from 30,000 Feet is one of the best articles that I have ever read on the SEOmoz blog. And like others have mentioned here – if you don’t like that type of content, don’t read it. Can you imagine reading every post from every blog that you follow? Some people have a day job.. :)

@Kim totally agree. I don’t blog for the free drinks. In fact, I’m fairly sure anyone who can afford to attend can afford to buy their own drinks.
1. Networking. We like to network
2. Helping out. We like to help other marketers because we all were n00bs at some point.
@Rand, I’m a premium member and I don’t mind the off topic posts. One suggestion I would make is having a “premium blog section” even if they were published on the public site (there may be one, just not sure, if you check my twitter feed right now you would now why). I can skim the articles and figure out it’s about Rebecca and some fact about what it’s like to work for you. Place all the good stuff in the premium area just for good access. Like a top posts sort of thing. (and no offense to rebecca, i think she’s an excellent writer and also contributes great things)
I’ve been promoting your premium membership and will continue to do so because I think it’s well worth it. If others don’t find it so, well they can go read mr chow can’t they…

“You and I both know that people blog conferences for the large numbers of free drinks that other attendees purchase for them.”

This is total crap and really hurts people like who work their asses off, for free, at conferences, and pay our own way to do it.

As for off-topic blog posts? I love them. When someone is writing for free and I visit of my own free will, what right do I have to tell that blogger their off-topic posts doesn’t suit me?

Rand and Matt…I expect them to always be themselves and whichever part they want to share is fine with me.

We do have a new tool launching this week that hopefully you’ll enjoy Matt. We’ve also been consistently adding tips and the knowledge base just surpassed 500 entries. The link directory grew from ~80 to over 150 sites and now features categorization. You might have also noticed that the tools are now running at nearly 100% accuracy, compared to the low point in August of 60% – we’ve put a lot of work into the technology side of things to make that smoother.
The guides are slow in coming, but I’d say that the expectation we hoped to create was a new guide every 3-4 months. I’ll double check our marketing copy to see that it’s clearly stated.
And yes – obviously we don’t have or want any off-topic material in premium content.

I’m a paid member at seomoz and I don’t mind the off-topic posts, as long as they don’t go overboard with it. As far as the rest of the sites go, I like reading off-topic stuff as it helps to better understand who the author is and where they are coming from.

I’m writing a linkbait guide right now. The last article published was mine as well, and it was published during SES San Jose. Given that they’re usually around 60 pages, single spaced, they take a long time to complete.

Sorry about the guides–we have several new ones being brainstorm/written at the moment, and we’re planning on updating our current ones.

I am a member, I have used the tools, which are very decent – articles, haven’t been updated in months so for fresh “up-to-date” content I look at the blog as im sure other members do.

“SEOmoz take a lot of people’s money on monthly membership fees and with that money I thought maybe they would find good content to write about.”

We do – in the Premium Content section and specifically for those people whose money we “take.”

Keep in mind that the blog is free–no one pays to read it. What people do pay for is the strictly SEO-centric stuff, such as our guides, tools, and other features; thus, I’m not quite following your reasoning here, that with the money we make from consulting and from Premium Memberships, we should use it to write only on-topic posts.

@Todd: I think we’re going to see a lot more shows with less coverage than we’re accustomed to, especially the SMX shows, simply because there are so many of them. As much as people want to be everywhere and cover everything, it’s just not feasible.

But wait — people get free drinks at conferences? Really? I’m going to have to look into that next time. ;)

@Mike: You have a very valid point in regards to SEOmoz and the premium content. Everything behind that pay wall should be 100 percent related to search engine optimization. Is it? I have no idea. Rand hasn’t hooked me up with a membership. :)

Hello Lisa,
I noticed you have read one of my recent blog posts concerning my personal feelings on Rand and Matt. I was a bit harsh on Matt but think seomoz take a lot of peoples money on monthly membership fees and with that money I thought maybe they would find good content to write about. As I mention, most of the time I am thankful to the articles and blog posts that I see and I do enjoy what they do. I just don’t want to log on to an seo blog every week and more non related posts popping up!
I enjoyed your post and will be coming back for more and I guess some link baiting methods still work till this day ;)

Wait, people have to work for stuff? I thought I could just get popular for being popular Paris Hilton style. =)

Loved it and hope the Cali crew is doing okay!!

Amen. If you think they’re boring, read something that isn’t. I don’t read all of the posts at SEOmoz (they post a lot), but they still put out some of the best content. I’ll happily scan through 10 boring posts to find the good ones. If you’re not patient enough to wait, go blog about the 101 more interesting topics your damn self.
Dave, Matt became a popular SEO blogger when we started trying to get his attention. You know you read his cat posts. ;)

This is the part of the movie where I stand up and slowly start clapping, which gets everyone else to start clapping until eventually we’re all applauding wildly and cheering “Way to go, Lisa!”

tee hee… yer so cute when U rant :0)
Oh, and when did Matt become a popular ‘SEO Blogger’? Did I miss that memo?

Lisa, just to be clear, when I posted on Sphinn about the lack of coverage for SMX Local/Mobile, I was by no means complaining nor did I think I was “entitled” to coverage.

I was puzzled because usually conference coverage is done “in extreme overkill” (with your help frequently) and, in the back of my mind, I wondered whether the folks who usually do the blogging thought the topics weren’t important enough to cover / attend or whether it was a symptom of a conference marketing effort that wasn’t able to convince enough of the “visible” folks in our industry to appear at the conference.

You and I both know that people blog conferences for the large numbers of free drinks that other attendees purchase for them.


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