Its a noisy world when the need to speak outweighs the requisite of having something to say

Exceptional content for Debra Andrews of Marketri

This post is a reaction to the look-at-me journalism that spews sugar coated cliches in helpful lists.  Last week I read a particularly unappetizing LinkedIN blog post from Debra Andrews of Marketri on SEO, upon which I left the comment that is the headline of this post. She didn’t like that.

Initially I didn’t intend the comment as a direct criticism of her, but rather, as a response to the Riga-ma-roll outlined in her piece. This professionally written content is of course the required length for LinkedIN, and has at least one image as prescribed in best practices documents, but lacks any conveyance of an overall purpose or understanding of the bigger SEO picture; it doesn’t impart the idea that every form of communication you create, for SEO or otherwise, has got to mean something, and be valuable to someone, somewhere down the line.

google-seoSMOJoe has always said that Google’s number one question is ‘Who Cares? and every author should address that before, during and after making media on any platform. Do you have something original to share? Its good advice to write honest, authentic, original information for the biggest demographic that you think might care the most if you want to encourage a natural response and garner unsolicited collaboration that links to, and expands upon your ideas and beliefs. That’s the burden of SEO right there – making people care is both the art and science of the job.

There is no substitute for experience and originality, and there is no faking it either. Its my belief that if you haven’t got something original to say, don’t say anything at all.  It’s better to have a barren business blog than one filled with plastic.

Do not write info kibble wisdom all over the web just because you have a quota, and its part of your job description.  How does that really help you or or your organization anyway? Unless you have original ideas, original text and pictures to share with society, you should remain a reader.

tin eye on google seo pictureOriginal images are one way to separate your media from the doppelgangers. Case in point – the clip-art picture above, which Debra used in her piece, is a visual microcosm of the entire me-to phenomenon now occurring online. This malaise will eventually be the demise of content marketing as an effective online advertising tactic – its pollution. There’s so much crap out there now, Google’s job gets harder and harder every day because of ‘sophists’ republishing other people’s wisdom.  But publishing your own photos is one way to prove originality, and establish authenticity as an author. Tin Eye reports that five hundred and forty other ‘SEO experts’ have used this same picture in their marketing, on their websites and in their blogs.  So indeed this picture, like so many other pieces of stock photography, is a visual admission of ‘digital sophism’.

How to write a blog in 2014? Google something interesting, cut and paste, rinse and repeat.  Like everyone else in our society modern web marketers want more business, and so they feel they must demonstrate their knowledge by writing about it online, even if they don’t have anything original to share. It all reminds me of a classical / early medieval concept called Sophistry.  This is the Age of Digital Sophism .

Sophism is a method of teaching. In ancient Greece, sophists were a category of teachers who specialized in using the techniques of philosophy and rhetoric for the purpose of teaching arete—excellence, or virtue—predominantly to young statesmen and nobility. The practice of charging money for education and providing wisdom only to those who could pay led to the condemnations made by Socrates, through Plato in his dialogues.- Wikipedia

Content Marketing Sophism is a method of writing content that is not helpful to anyone, for money.  Its content marketing wherein the author cuts and pastes together a list of other people’s ideas and recently published work into their own media portals. They quite often attach stock photography to the pieces, and dress up the beginning and endings with links that point to their enterprises.

Debra did not like my comment, or the one from Matt Handal that followed mine. She did however like the lady who offered her a lollypop… In Debra’s mind that’s what social media is all about, being nice and social, regardless of merit.comments2


Debra’s comment to me inspired me to write this post, calling out the Sophists whose social media sugar syrup is smothering original thought on the web.

After educating us in the comment section, Debra wrote me a direct message entitled ‘Next Time’. You just know she started off by writing a helpful piece of advice on how to interact with others on LinkedIN, but then became vengeful at the end; probably fearing retaliation via LinkedIN messages, she cut off the possibility of us ever having a conversation in that medium.Debra Andrews, Marketri, content marketing

This is the age of Digital Sophism and I stand by my original comment; its a noisy world when the need to speak outweighs the requisite of having something to say.


  • October 21, 2014 at 9:09 pm

    My concern is when you write posts like “The Top 5 (Keyword) Tips for (Target Market) in (This Year)” …
    …first off who can’t see right through that?

    But more importantly, I think you have a responsibility to take exceptional care of your audience and not mislead them. So, your advice better be spot on.

    I also hate when marketing consultants flood the internet with garbage because they think that’s the “right thing to do.” It’s exactly what not to do.

    I’m no SEO, not by any stretch of the imagination. But based on my own personal tests, I’ve always had success by creating the most comprehensive and helpful resource about that specific topic. I’ve taken brand new sites to #1 in a couple months using this approach (with only one link).

    I think that aligns with what you are saying.

  • October 22, 2014 at 7:54 am
    Debra Andrews

    Hi Rob – You may not think so, but I actually do really care about the content that I share. I don’t publish content to get exposure. I actually can’t take on any new clients at this point. I write because I enjoy sharing. I’ve learned amazing things from marketing leaders, like Mark Schaefer, Marcus Sheridan, Joe Pulizzi, and Ann Handley. While I realize I don’t have their extreme talent, I have worked in professional services for 20 years. When I write my posts, they aren’t for general consumption. My blogs are targeted to a very particular audience. I know when I write for my target audience, they will gain value. I don’t write for you. My SEO post says who I’m writing for in the title. Do you know what professional services firms need to know? Most of my clients write very thin content. Rand Fishkin spent a lot of time discussing this topic at Inbound. I shared it in my post as a warning to my clients and other professional services firms – if it’s thin, don’t bother. Many shareholders feel if they write anything, it’s good enough. Not true! Mark Goodfield is NOT one of those shareholders which is why he is so successful. So, enough said. Thanks for writing a post in my honor!

  • October 22, 2014 at 8:25 am
    Rob Campbell

    Sure I get it. I only wrote this post because you challenged me to show you exceptional content. Its exceptional alright.. its something totally new … anti-social media.