A Lesson from Wired Magazine about Sustainable Websites
Today I was sitting in Northstar (one of my favorite places to grab a bite to eat and a good cup of overpriced coffee in the Short North) and decided to pick up some of my secretly favorite magazines. No, not the magazines you are thinking of. Nerdy magazines. Like Wired.
Within Wired, somewhere deep in the back of the magazine, there is an article about web scraping and how it’s a dangerous business to get in because the sites you are scraping from can shut off your access to their data anytime. And then, like David Copperfield making a yacht go “buh-bye”, you’ll find the value of your site and the fickle traffic that payed your bills before have disappeared.
-If you have no idea what I’m talking about with scrapers, then head over to the Wired Article (here) and brush up.-
What can we learn from this? I mean I haven’t had one client yet, ever, ask me to make them a web scraper (or bot), so how could this possibly teach us anything? It’s easy. When you are creating a sustainable website, there are no shortcuts.
Creating a sustainable website, one that will stand the test of time, Content Is King. Your content has to be:
2. Unique (meaning you can’t copy&paste or just reword something that everybody already knows)
4. Linkable (meaning that other people will read it, and want to link to it)
When I first started creating websites and trying to get tons of traffic, I thought that Quantity beat Quality anytime. Over time, it seems that the opposite is true.
On the other side of the computer screen is always a HUMAN BEING spending their time reading what you’ve written to meet some need that they have. Maybe they want to know how to build a better website, make their website more SEO compliant, or in the case of this article, trying to learn what the article from Wired can teach us.
And, for 99% of websites, that means writing great content or hiring someone to write great content for you. Without good content, your website doesn’t offer any value to the visitors, and no short-term fixes (including SEO) will make your site take flight.
So what does all of this mean in terms of how ACTUAL sites look?
Well, I’ll show you from some pages that I’ve written myself.
Why: OK, this is a page from my own site. See, we all do this sometimes. The reason this page doesn’t work is because it doesn’t really offer anything of value to the user… You. just because you are at my site doesn’t mean you care at all about another site I’m launching. I can’t image anyone reading this page and saying… “Wow, knowing about this site launching sure is interesting. I think I’ll link to that and tell me friends about it.” Honestly, not going to happen. Why don’t I erase the page? Well, it give’s me a link to the site, which helps the Columbus Restaurant Review Site in the Search Engines. (But if I had the time, it’d help MORE to write a more compelling page.)
Why: I wrote both of these pages over time. You know, I opened up Word and wrote and edited and edited and added and fact-checked and researched and all of that. It took time. It took energy. Heck, it was hard. But it paid off. People read these and comment, link, and somehow the Search Engines know that these are good pages and they give them prominent positions in the Indexes… which means more traffic and more money.
Do I walk the walk? Let me know if this article that you are reading write now is fluff or “stuff”. Leave a comment below about what you thought. And if you do think it’s stuff, why not let me take a look at your site and see if we can’t make some moves for you or your organization?