Skyrocket Your Productivity by Trimming the Fat

Mar 3rd

If the Google Farmer update doesn't show you the unfortunate amount of low-quality noise in the SEO industry then there is no hope for you young jedi. :)

It's not unlike the unbelievable noise that surrounds an upcoming Apple product launch. In the interest of full disclosure I happen to be an Apple-ite but the coverage is even nauseating to me.

My poor RSS reader and my Twitter stream came under siege these last few days with the ramp up to the iPad 2 launch and the Google algo update.

This inspired me, after hitting the delete button about 432 times in my RSS and scrubbing the Twitter list, to sit back and review how I consume information, where I consume it from, and who is really worth "my time".

Repeat, Re-tweet, Rinse

Technology blogs and SEO blogs are much different in terms of the availability of content that can be churned out on a daily basis, as you know. There is so much more to choose from with tech but there still is this herd mentality which leads to someone saying "The iPad 2 will have a camera" 15 different ways.

With SEO, it is pretty tough to churn out daily content that is:

  • without a lot of conjecture
  • accurate
  • thought-provoking
  • worthy of your time

Sure, SEO changes like any other industry but sometimes you read some of these blogs and you have to wonder how much factual, data-driven information goes into the content? Or is the point stretched to a level where any independent analysis would torch the theory in a matter of minutes?

Show Me The Money!

Something I starting doing a bit before this wake up call which is now helping me whittle down what I am consuming, was to make notes of techniques or tips that were mentioned (noting the source) then implementing those tips while watching to see whether they made any difference (positive or negative).

Also, try and pay attention to trend predictions and industry predictions.

The ones that are usually spot on are probably worth more of your time

One thing I noticed while doing that was some of the information was simply being either re-tweeted, or republished with thin commentary, or referenced with essentially the same content but spun a different way with different industry language.

The problem was that many of the blogs or sites occasionally had a good point or three but the vast majority were just kind of "meh". I don't mean that in a disparaging way but I think if the goal of the writer is to publish frequently then so be it, but it isn't a necessity in my opinion and it can actually hurt the quality of the content if the writer feels like daily or semi-hourly publishing is required of them.

I figure that if you are going to spend time reading or paying attention to someone, you ought to pay attention to how often you skim over their stuff versus how often you actually read it and benefit from it.

Authors That Branch Out

As SEO becomes more and more a part of a holistic view of marketing your business or site, it might be a good move to look at people who can write intelligently about SEO as well as what else goes into web marketing. Things like:

  • tool reviews
  • web design and/or development
  • using popular cms frameworks
  • domain buying, selling, and domain names
  • social media
  • and the many other things a typical SEO or webmaster might be interested in

I'll give you one of my favorite blogs to read (outside of SeoBook of course :D ), Michael Gray AKA Graywolf over at Wolf-Howl.Com. His blog covers many aspects of the web marketing industry and has provided me with some extremely useful advice and tips.

Looking at the homepage of the site today he's covering Raven SEO Tools, How to Choose a Domain Name, a review of a Social Media tool, some Facebook tips for small and local businesses, and a couple of posts on SEO factors.

It's a solid example of a really well-rounded blog which gives actionable information, tips, and strong opinions.

A site that I like as sort of an all in one solution is Search Engine Land. Solid news round ups, excellent guest writers, and a group in tune to what's going on in the world of search marketing.

Many of you might subscribe to these ones already, but if not you should take a peek. :)

Do They Have Something (of value) to Say?

Twitter is probably the worst in terms of noise if you don't engage in some strategic filtering or unfollowing. A stream can quickly get littered with a bunch of RT's with posts about how nice the weather is outside.

Don't get me wrong, I don't mind the personal or non-work tweets (in fact sometimes they are a nice break from the monotony of the day as a webmaster) but if you notice that the person you are following is basically a re-tweet machine then it might be time to move on.

The nature of the web and social media present a way for you to interact with other folks in your industry in a way which makes it seem like you are bosom buddies with your (fill in a number) followers on Twitter, or people you interact within a community.

The hard, sobering fact is that quite a few people have nothing to say professionally that really is of any true business value to you (and why would you care what they are doing over the weekend?).

There are thought leaders in every space who consistently put out good stuff, but thought leaders are few and far in between. We live in a superficial, ME ME ME, celebrity world.

People want to be heard, seen, adored, revered, etc. It's really easy to spot thought leaders but you also have to be able to weed through people who look like thought leaders just because they have a high Twitter follower count.

It's easy to separate out noise though. Pay attention to who you are reading and following and really look at how much you are learning from that person or group.

A Cleansed List & a Productive Day

I ended up cutting my RSS feeds by quite a bit, probably around 70% if I quickly look at the numbers. I follow a few SEO-centric blogs as well as some PPC blogs, a few Local SEO blogs, Google & Bing blogs, blogs specific to tools that I use, and some general business blogs/feeds.

I'm not a big Twitter user, because after the celebs/corporations/internet marketers/bots there is little left. Diversity is good, overwhelming noise is not.

You could spend all day reading theories or re-spun posts instead of getting the information from the cream of the crop and putting that data into action for your business. Some of the spots I no longer read weren't re-publishing houses but they simply didn't bring enough to the table consistently to warrant an investment of *my* time.

What about your time? Are you giving it away to places that do not deserve it?

Published: March 3, 2011

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Comments

March 3, 2011 - 5:41am

I cut my RSS feed substantially too, only a few make it into my list. In the end its not about how many sources you read about but rather the quality of the sources.

March 3, 2011 - 11:14pm

I'm curious what you use for an RSS reader. Have to admit i'm not 100% happy with most of the stuff on the market.

March 4, 2011 - 8:58am

Another piece of solid advice, thanks. I recently did this, and whittled my SEO / Web subscriptions down to just 3 blogs. This one, Thesis/DIY themes and Blog Tyrant. My reasons were that these two sources provide original, useful and thought-provoking content. It's made a huge difference just to focus on a small number of high-quality blogs.

On the social media side I've eliminated Facebook (although I still have an account to manage client pages) so I'm focusing on Twitter and there I'm un-following people the moment they spam my feed with nonsense.

March 4, 2011 - 10:42am

I'm a big fan of constructive criticism. Especially when I'm the one doing the criticism. Now don't take this the wrong way, but didn't you just write a low quality noise article about low quality noise?

Lets see, we learned about today...unoriginal writers, apple iPhones,your not a fan of twitter and you trimmed down your RSS feed. Was reading this really a worthy investment of my time? Let's just say I found myself skimming by the end of it. But hey, maybe this is your feast before the fast.

Ok, now I'll get to the constructive part. Instead of just complaining about weak writers, how about trying to offer some real tips on beefing up your articles. Talk about how you come up with your ideas and your process for developing an idea into an article.

Now to be fair, even the best writers out there are guilty of fluffing things up from time to time. My opinion on that is to be good or good at it. If you are going to blast on others for doing the same thing that you are, you should at least be better then them at it.

I look forward to seeing you produce some real quality articles soon Cuz lets face it, this one was just kind of "meh".

March 4, 2011 - 11:05pm

...will work great for everyone. ;)

A person mentioning their own time management tips will be helpful to some folks, but not all. All blog posts are that way. Frequently I spend 4 hours writing an original blog post that gets 2 comments and 0 links. This entry got more engagement than many of my posts did. And it got additional engagement inside our community forums as well.

March 5, 2011 - 12:39pm

For the majority of crap written within seo community I personally blame wrong interpreted saying: "Content is king". Some people think they have to write almost every day that's why there is so much crap outside. However, this huge amount of useless wanna be SEO top shit lines does a neat favour to high quality paper magazines like: Website Magazine, Search Marketing Standard and The Net Effect.

This post has not much technical value but it has a lot material that let me think about it. I too did cat quite some crap and I am breading fresher SEO air.

Keep up the good work Seobook.

March 5, 2011 - 3:19pm

@dan0rm thanks for the feedback! This isn't a fluff piece, it's an original post about my personal time management habits when it comes to managing RSS feeds and noise. Completely, 100% original. Now you may not dig it, that's cool bro...but my main point was the repackaging of information by other writers, and that wasn't blasting anyone. I think it's what you would call "constructive criticism" :)

Not every single piece of SEO information that you write is going to be brand spankin' new or be full of all sorts of new tips, daily (as you know from writing about SEO on your company's blog). Maybe you feel I was taking aim at you personally because some of the stuff on your blog might fall into that category? I wasn't...Just saying that it's hard to write original SEO stuff daily so I like bloggers that mix it up and help me in other areas of biz/time management (like graywolf as I mentioned). I do appreciate the feedback though.

@danieldeyette I use NetVibes...they have a mobile version for use on the iPhone and iPad as well. Not as fast as Google Reader but....not Google :)

March 7, 2011 - 6:19am

@ vanillacoke

First I want to apologize if I was a little harsh in my language. I also want to say that You have written some great articles here. In particular I thought this one was great. Absolutely jam packed full of useful information. I would recommend anyone to read it.

Having said that, lets get back to this article. Your title is great. Very catchy. So catchy in fact that I really believed that I would get some tips that might help me to "Skyrocket" my productivity. Lets face it that is a bold title, and based upon the quality of your previous articles I had high hopes.

The simple fact of the matter is that the only real tip you gave me here, trimming my RSS feed, just isn't going to live up to the claims of the title. Yes it is a good idea. No it will not "Skyrocket" my productivity. No harm no foul, I appreciate the tip.

Now the fact that it took you 1,194 words to give me that one tip is why I said you might be fluffing a little bit. Now don't get me wrong, fluffing is ok sometimes, just not when your writing an article about trimming the fluff out of your RSS feed. It struck me as funny.

If you thought I was personally attacking you, I assure you I was not. I was sincere when I said I was looking forward to reading some more quality articles from you. Ones like I mentioned above. As far as me feeling attacked by your article because maybe I write fluff... that's just silly. In fact I challenge you to find one single fluff or "low quality noise" article on my business blog. I bet you won't.

@Aaron

I agree that not everyone works for everyone. It is certainly tough to consistently write engaging articles that are useful at the same time. I think you do a pretty good job of it. For that matter, so does vanillacoke. This one just wasn't for me and IMHO i think he was fluffing up a piece about fluff. I found that funny.

March 7, 2011 - 2:18pm

just to trim your RSS feed. The main point was to articulate that by not only just trimming an RSS feed but also taking a strong look at who you are spending your time reading, following, etc...you can really narrow down the information you consume + make the quality to noise ratio much more in favor of quality than noise. When you combine that stuff together, you can really increase your productivity and production quite a bit. Then I outlined what makes something interesting to me and what I try to avoid.

Not going to go point by point here with stuff on your blog but if you think all of that is high quality, no noise stuff, complete with all sorts of original content and ideas then good on you for that.. :)

March 7, 2011 - 4:49pm

You do make a good point and perhaps I shouldn't be so critical. In retrospect, some things that I might do naturally ,like keeping a thin feed, others might not consider. And vice versa. Obviously there were several people who found the information helpful. I know that what I right is for a specific audience and someone outside of that audience might find what I write of no use to them. Overall your article was concise and made sense, I suppose that's what matters most. Forgive me for being the cynic, I can be a real knucklehead sometimes. I will definitely continue to read what you write, and perhaps keep a more open mind in the future. No promises on the open mind thing though :)

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