Every day I spend at least an hour reading articles, blog posts and commentaries. As I read I absorb the content. I reflect on it and ask whether it’s something I think others would find interesting. If the answer is yes, the chances are you’ll see it on my Twitter or LinkedIn timeline.
In recent weeks I’ve noticed I’ve been sharing less. Some of this is down to my focus being on a couple of specific research projects. Much is down to things becoming repetitive.
I’m trapped in an SEO bubble of dullness
I seem to have stumbled into a bubble where the same concepts are being shared in similar formats by different people. I’ve read countless discussions on the hamburger menu. There are endless “how to” marketing guides that are just repeats of things already well known and breakdowns of approaches I’ve read a hundred times before.
Sometimes the articles that appear are skyscrapers – pieces that take someone else’s work and cram in more keywords and repetition to get higher in the search engine rankings. Other times they’re written by someone who knows “content marketing” is a good idea, but lacks the ability to construct and edit compelling words.
It came to a head when I encountered a piece claiming Hemingway was a great inspiration for clarity in blogging, then ignored this theme completely and descend into a repetitive, meandering blandness. SEO keywords were present, a promise of a unique angle offered, disappointment maximised.
Damn you, SEO
Effective SEO is also taking its toll. I’m reading the same content as everyone else as my Google Alerts, Flipboard, email newsletters and Twitter presents the same articles from the same sites. A vicious feedback loop has formed as they share the same articles, boosting their popularity, getting them onto lists where they’re reshared and around we go again. Reading it is one thing, but what’s the point of sharing it again other than to join the crowd for some reassurance?
My approach to reading and sharing needs to change. I need to break the bubble’s surface and discover what else is out there.
An experiment to burst the SEO bubble
I’ve decided to start an experiment. Instead of relying on new things to read being pushed at me, I’ll go out and find it. I’m going past the first page of Google and digging deeper into the new content that’s being produced to find stuff that otherwise might be hidden. I’m turning my back on the big name sites and bloggers to hunt down the gems that might never otherwise appear.
What I don’t want to read are by-the-numbers, keyword heavy, bullet lists of why Steve Jobs had the perfect productivity hack. I want personal stories about how you found a way through a difficult situation. The missteps on the way interest me. Your lessons are insights I could benefit from. I want to be inspired to nudge myself a little further forward.
How this experiment pans out I don’t know. I might find as much rubbish as I do at the moment. I might stumble on ground breaking content that blows my mind away. If I don’t try I won’t know.
You can help find inspiring ideas too
Perhaps this is also a cry for help from the millions of bloggers and writers and Twitter users out there. I want you to break your bubbles too. Stop writing the same things as everyone else. Stop sharing the same articles you see on your timeline that have been retweeted a hundred times before. Find something new, challenging and inspiring and bring it out from behind the first page on Google and the top of the Twitter timeline.
If we don’t then I’m afraid that far from being an amazing place to share ideas, we’ll find the Internet has just become an echo chamber of popularity.