When recognized marketing leader and author, Seth Godin, and New York City Attorney and nationally known law blogger, Scott Greenfield, come together to make a point on reputation management (some call it marketing) the stars are really aligned. It happened today — and we’re the better for it.
Seth led off with his post, ‘The non-optimized life‘ counseling us that there are better ways to measure one’s activity blogging than around search optimization.
Surely, you can optimize a website or a blog for traffic. You can optimize ads to make them yield more results. You can optimize your presentation style to close more sales or change more minds. You can optimize your workout to get faster and stronger. You can optimize your diet to lose weight and gain muscle. You can optimize your sleeping patterns to get more rest in less time. Cosmo even says you can optimize your sex life…
And then, at some point, you realize you’re spending your best energy on optimization, not on creation.
This is a fine line to walk, because of course you can optimize your creation time as well! You can develop habits to amplify your best thoughts and make it likely you’ll ship work that matters. I get that. But I also worry that a never-ending cycle of optimization can become a crutch, a place to hide when you really should be confronting the endless unknown, not the banal stair step of incremental optimization. While Yahoo was optimizing their home page in 2001, the guys at Google were inventing something totally new.
Seth, a household name for his blogging success, concludes:
That’s one reason I resist the temptation to optimize this blog for traffic and yield. I’d rather force myself to improve it by having the guts to write better posts instead.
Greenfield was quick to comment on Seth’s post with his post, ‘The Un-Optimization‘ accurately defining the difference between those lawyers who blog to contribute and those lawyers driven to blog for search engine optimization.
As to those lawyers who blog to share their thoughts and insight:
Creating something worth reading is hard work. It requires thought. This makes people’s head hurt. Nobody likes a hurting head.
Creating something involves risk. People may read your creation and tell you they hate it. They may say you’re stupid and ignorant and despicably ugly. There is no shortage of critics.
Creating something can be counterproductive. It usually involves making choices, and once a choice is made, there’s an extremely good chance that it will alienate someone who would make a different choice.
And Greenfield’s thoughts on those selling the SEO snake oil and social media magic dust as a way to riches for lawyers:
On the other hand, there are a few enterprising folks out there who will be happy, for a small fee, to provide you with a shortcut to wealth and success. There is search engine optimization (they even use the ‘O’ word in the title of their services). They can teach anyone, even you, how to strategically place words and links in posts to trick Google into thinking you’re a major player. And players drive that gravy train. Players get to call themselves things like ‘thought leader’ and ‘social media rock star.’
And SEO is only one of the many tricks in the social media bag. There are many others, from backlinking to running around the interwebz pretending to care deeply about every insipid poster or twitterer in the neighborhood. A tried and true method of becoming a player is getting everybody to love you, and all you need to accomplish that is to pretend to love everyone else. Nowhere else but the blogosphere has rank insecurity and the need for validation been raised to such high art.
The week before last I heard that lawyers at a legal marketing conference were told that when you do those things necessary to achieve success on the Internet you will be chastised by some lawyers.
The things needed to be a success? Scraping copy in newspaper accident reports for your law blog, using deceased and injured people’s names in the blog posts, and linking from your blog post to your website with the linked text reading “accident attorneys” or “injury lawyers.”
You need to this, of course, for an optimized blog. Then you’ll know your blog is a success. Not to worry that you’ve wasted your time getting a law degree so you can trash the reputation of our profession.
Search engine optimization is one way to measure blog success. “Or” as Greenfield says, “you can write good posts that other people, for whatever reason, want to read.”
But as Greenfield warns, “…[C]reating something that others might want to read is hard work and risky. Why chance it?”