The Worst Article I’ve ever Read About Business Blogging and Comments

July 29, 2014
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By Marcus Sheridan

cash_for_comments

This is the type of post where I need to list a few “disclaimers” before commencing with my thoughts:

1. I love Moz as a company. I love their blog and their mission. I also know that just because they post an article from a guest author, it doesn’t necessarily mean they agree with it.

2. The author of the post I’m going to discuss today is assuredly a good guy. In other words, just because I completely disagree with his article doesn’t mean he’s not talented, smart, and good at his job—as I’m sure he’s all of those things.

3. As previously stated in other articles here on TSL, I’ve received over 20,000 legitimate comments to this blog over the past five years, an experience which has given me much to say about this subject.

And here we go…

Apparently, Blog Comments Will Save the World…and Your Business

There have been a few times since starting The Sales Lion that I was so moved (in a negative way) by something I read or saw I simply couldn’t hold my tongue on what I’d just witnessed. Although my general style is a very positive one focused on teaching and helping, there are clearly times when I feel like staying silent on a subject without presenting the “other side” would be irresponsible and an injustice to those people I truly care about helping, which, in this case, are businesses big and small around the world.

Today is one of those days.

Recently, I read an article on Moz entitled: The Broken Art of Company Blogging (and the Ignored Metric that Could Save Us All) by guest blogger Dan Shure.

After reading it the first time, my initial thoughts went something like this: “Good grief this article is irresponsible, misleading, and without merit. What the heck is going on?”

Then I read it 3 more times.

By the 4th time, my conclusion went like this: “This is the worst article I’ve ever read on the definition of “blogging success”…Why are we even still having this conversation??

The core point of the article is as follows:

Comments are the primary KPI(Key Performance Indicator) for a business blog today…and if a business’ blog isn’t getting a decent amount of comments, they shouldn’t be blogging in the first place.

Just writing out those two sentences bothers me, as it’s hard to believe anyone could think this way, but that’s exactly what the premise was.

In order to take an even deeper dive, I’m going to quote a few of the article’s main points and then respond with my thoughts:

“We look at vanity metrics like shares, tweets, and likes. None of those actually matter. Most people who just share don’t even read the post.”

Wow, where do I start? Fact is, I’m the first to say that shares, tweets, and like numbers aren’t necessarily a major KPI for many business blogs (or content), but for others, they’re a HUGE influence on traffic, leads, and sales. Case in point: The Sales Lion gets 25% of its traffic from Social. Not only that, but much of my speaking career (connections to thought leaders, conferences, etc. in the marketing space) all started with readers sharing my stuff on social media platforms, which opened the doors to some amazing relationships and opportunities.

Also, the stat of “most people who just share don’t even read the post” is, once again, poor data, as the true percentage of readers is greatly affected by the industry. (For example, if someone in the Healthcare industry tweets something, they’ve likely read it. Anyone who has done content marketing in this industry knows exactly what I’m talking about.)

“The truth today? Blog posts have more of a chance of hurting your SEO than helping. Unless you are willing to put an honest effort in, I would stay away from that assumption (that blogging is for SEO).”

This statement is so unfounded it’s not even funny. Furthermore, who defines “honest effort?” I certainly don’t. Here’s what I do know though: Blogging, done right (They Ask, You Answer), is far and away the BEST SEO tool/strategy on the marketing today, and it’s not even close. I’ve got multiple examples of this fact from TSL clients but let me just show you one of them—my friends from Yale Appliance in Boston, who have grown their web traffic from 50k to roughly 250k visitors per month over the past 2 years, with the biggest influence on this spike coming from the blog content and its corresponding SEO value. Having increased sales dramatically during this period while lowering advertising costs to almost nothing, Yale, for some reason, isn’t too worried about the fact they get few comments on their posts.

Mind-blowing numbers from Yale Appliance...all because of a blog that doesn't get many comments.

Mind-blowing numbers from Yale Appliance…all because of a blog that doesn’t get many comments.

“…Blogs are for getting leads… eventually. But usually not on “first touch.”

There are many of readers of The Sales Lion that make one visit to the site and then become a lead by downloading one of the free eBooks we have available or filling out a contact form. Anyone that has ever done inbound/content marketing well is quite aware that first time visitors to a website can convert quite nicely into a lead—it’s just a matter of proper lead capture, something the author of the Moz post seems to have completed whiffed on.

“I believe there’s a solution to this madness and feel that whether or not your blog is receiving comments should guide your entire blogging effort.”

Think about this statement for a second. There is nothing here about traffic, leads, or sales. Nothing about revenue generated. In fact, from the looks of it, the author is under the impression that blog comments are the newest bitcoin and can therefore be used by businesses to do things like make payroll, meet their mortgage requirements, etc.

As I’ve stated before, The Sales Lion didn’t explode from a lead generation standpoint until I *stopped* worrying about, and writing for, blog comments and started worrying about the metrics that actually matter. This strategy has made all the difference for me and the clients we serve across dozens of industries here at TSL.

Again, let me repeat my point: Smart businesses aren’t obsessed with blog comments, they’re obsessed with generating new and better business from their blog.

“I bet if most companies went by this chart, 95% of company blogs would get shut down. Which in my opinion, wouldn’t be a bad thing at all…Ideally, you would track comments per post over time as the central success/failure measure of the company blog.”

Again—nothing here about tracking leads and sales over time. Nothing about new revenue. We’re all living in blog utopia now where comments are what keep a company’s lights on.

With this logic, personal brands like Seth Godin and companies like Copyblogger (who don’t have comments enabled on their posts) should simply shut their ultra successful blogs, never to show their face in public again.

Sorry Seth, but it appears you need to shut down your blog. ;-)

Sorry Seth, but it appears you need to shut down your blog. ;-)

“You don’t have to wait until you’re 6 months into blogging to figure out how well it’s going. You can tell after just a handful of posts. That’s what I believe anyway. Assuming a younger blog (of say 5-10 posts) is getting at least some traffic, if there’s no discussion, there’s no traction.”

It’s statements like these that literally make me sad. Most real businesses take 3-6 months to start seeing significant results with their blogging/content marketing efforts. Granted, this number can vary tremendously (as some get results immediately), but there is a HUGE percentage that do not get almost any discussion or comments (especially in the B2B speace) at all initially, if not permanently. But does this lack of “discussion” mean the blog is not building more traffic, leads, and sales? Does it mean the content is not being used by people in the sales department to shorten the sales cycle? Does it mean the company isn’t figuring out their personal doctrine and refining their brand message because of these writings?

Of course not.

“Most of all, I like that this method is simple, and pretty accurate in my opinion. You don’t need fancy software to tell you if your blog is working.”

Actually, lead tracking (with advanced software) is a huge deal. For example, I could never have written the article “My Blog Made over 2 Million in Sales” had I not had advanced analytics like HubSpot to use for closed-loop sales tracking. In fact, the reality to any type of content marketing is that showing a physical ROI (in terms of revenue generated) is critical for long term success, growth, and company-wide buy-in.

There is so much power to closed-loop marketing...

There is so much power to closed-loop marketing…

“There is no dialogue. No connection.” (article close)

This final sentence of the post may be the wackiest of all. Think about it for a second:

Have you ever felt a sense of connection to an author of a book? Goodness knows, I sure have. Whether it’s Seth Godin, Dale Carnegie Jr., Scriptures, etc.—I have a sense of connection with the authors, despite the fact we didn’t have any official “dialogue.”

reading a book

“Connection” has nothing to do with a comment. Rather, true connections are based on feelings, emotions, and the way someone is touched when they read another person’s words.

Stop Looking at it Like a Blog, Start Seeing it For what it Truly is

Ultimately, this whole discussion symbolic of the author’s major flaw in thinking: He sees a “blog” as just that—a blog.

Big mistake.

I’ve been beating this drum to death but this is a classic example of why we need to change the language of the marketing industry and kill the word “blog” in the first place—because all it really is at this point is a way of organizing articles on a website.

That’s right, a “blog” is a way of formatting digits on a screen.

But the words, stories, images, and videos shown in said blog is where the power lies, because that, my friends, is what we call communication.

It’s teaching.

It’s helping.

It’s solving problems.

These things, when done properly, induce trust. They build relationships. Their influence has no bounds.

You may be wondering why I’m so passionate about this subject. The answer is a simple one:

When I started the River Pools blog it got no comments for weeks and weeks. The content was poorly written. One might have even argued it was a “failure.”

But we kept going, kept writing, and kept learning.

Today, that little blog, which still gets few comments, saved my business, my home, and brought financial peace to my life. It has also been told in marketing circles again and again around the globe.

These types of stories are made possible only when we *encourage* action, not discourage it based on a simple metric that will never, ever be a true measure of personal or professional success.

Category: Motivational/Inspirational