February 2019 SEO Update

When I committed to writing at least 100 words per day this year, I had two end-goals in mind.

One goal was entirely personal. I wanted to create a time and space for myself to think. So far, writing has done a fantastic job of helping me consolidate thoughts on design, startups, and personal growth. The proof is simply the writing itself and how I’m feeling about it.

Just as important, though, I wanted to start driving growth towards my classes and free tools.

Starting this month, I’m going to be recording my progress here on a monthly basis.

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Measuring Content Value

Local news sites and Top 10 roundup sites are really pushing the envelope on who can include the least content and the most bullshit on a single page.

If you can create the content for most of your site without any actual expertise or technology beyond Google or a camera phone, it’s probably not that useful. Presumably, this is why Google prioritizes long-form content in search results, but longer content isn’t necessarily better content. Google may actually be encouraging bullshit rather than minimizing it.

We need a better algorithm for measuring content value. “Did this actually help you?” may be the most crucial question in the next 10 years of search.

Content Discovery is Broken

Content discovery is broken.

Android’s news feed shows the same 5 stories. There’s an entire industry dedicated to helping you find new content on Netflix. Medium only recommends more of the same content you’re already reading.

This is partly because most content is crap. It’s derivative, verbose, and designed more for search engines and recommendation algorithms than actual people.

But there’s also a bigger discovery issue at play.

Today’s AI is bad at navigating the line between novelty and your current interests. While a person might understand that their friend likes Game of Thrones not for its fantasy setting but for its political thriller overtones, most of today’s algorithms default to the lowest common denominator: “people like you.”

Collective sorting was a useful stepping stone. But it’s time for something better.