It was a difficult task, for it required me to go to 18 of the top SEO, social media, and content marketing websites each and everyday.
I’ve done that and now I’d like to tell you the results.
The study began on October 6 when I put up a post called Analyzing 18 Different Social Media, SEO, and Marketing Sites for Content.
It got 1,061 views that month and maybe 300 or so last month, if that.
If I was a big site I’m sure it would have gotten that in an hour or so.
Oh well – I’m not a big site.
I’m a nobody, really, just someone that started reading these sites years go. I listened to their advice and I’ve used a lot of it.
Not all, however. No, some of their advice you don’t want to use.
We’ll discuss that today, as well as the good and bad points for each of these sites.
I hope it’s informative, I hope it’s entertaining, and I hope it offends.
The content and the habits of these sites should offend you. Oftentimes it’s lackluster and not at all what we’d expect from content leaders.
Unfortunately, that’s become business as usual at these sites and we as an audience accept that.
It’s a shame, a damn shame.
Oh well. Instead of griping, let’s discuss these sites. Maybe that way you’ll begin to see a bit of what I’m talking about.
My opinion of Moz has gone down a bit, though that’s largely because of this week’s post suggesting you “buy” Twitter followers.
Perhaps it’s just a terrible headline. You’d think these people would know better though, right?
Not the case.
Oh well. Besides that there’s not much to get excited about. The site continues to put up SEO content that’s pretty hardcore, meaning for regular people it’s of little interest.
Their forays into content marketing advice have left me wanting.
Overall, this site also suffers from having great staff that are never used. Rolling Rand out once a week might be enough for some people, but not me (still, I haven’t bothered with his video posts for about a year).
The site relies on guest posters when there’s no real need to. You have to wonder…what does Moz do all day?
I guess sell SEO services and tools. So that’s what this site is – they sell SEO stuff and sometimes put up content that’s related to that.
I’m sorry, that doesn’t much appeal to me anymore.
#2 Boost Blog Traffic
For the second or third time in as many years, Boost Blog Traffic will be coming off my bookmark bar.
I in no way feel bad about this.
In fact, the site owner suggested it after I commented on this rather staid post.
For two months I’ve visited this site each day. Of course, I knew that wasn’t necessary – they’re posting schedule is terrible!
This site has put up 8 posts in 60 days.
That’s not acceptable.
Oh, it might be acceptable if Jon Morrow was writing the content all the time…but honestly, I can’t say that anymore.
I mean, that shit-shingle article he gave us on December 2 was a joke. I said as much to him in the comments as you saw. Got me about 45 linkbacks and probably a ton of scorn from loving fans.
Those fans need to speak up and demand better. This site is letting you down so much it’s sad.
The writers that do contribute to the 3 to 4 posts a month often have good ideas. Compared to sites putting out 10 times the content or more, however, it’s not good enough.
I won’t be missing this site as I know there’s little to miss.
#3 Quick Sprout
I kept this site on my bookmark bar for the full 60 days even though I wanted to get rid of it after about a month.
The content is boring and too long and never new.
On top of this, we know that Neil Patel pays others to write for him. Lots of people do this, it’s just they let those people use their own names.
Well, who knows – maybe all big-time content producers do this.
The thing with Quick Sprout is that the articles are like Men’s Health articles.
You could pick up an April 2013 and an April 2015 issue and see the exact same advice.
Whether it’s ab workouts, that diet shake, or how to finally get her clothes off, the advice will be the same.
Folks, the basics don’t change!
That’s what Neil Patel deals in – the basics. He tells them to us over and over and then over some more.
He makes a lot of money doing that, which is easy when suckers are born every minute.
You’re not a sucker. You’re also not a third-world type with a name that’s hard to pronounce. That’s who I see making up the majority of the comments on these posts.
Do yourself a favor – remove this site from your bookmark bar like I’m going to do after this article.
#4 Social Media Examiner
Wow, what a site!
This has probably been the most interesting site to watch, for a variety of reasons.
- First, if you make the right kind of comments here you’ll usually get a response;
- Next, the owner of the site isn’t that secure in his business and will sometimes lash out. This is very entertaining.
- Finally, they have good content…most of the time.
Alright, about the comments. I’ve made some pretty provocative comments on this site over the past 60 days.
Clearly, I must be a troll.
Usually all you need to do to get a response that goes comment after comment is to challenge the writer of the post on their content.
I did this with several hashtag posts, questioning the use of the hashtags presented. Boy, people did not like that.
When you go to someone’s favorite site and start asking questions people get pissed.
Don’t you know you’re supposed to go and say ‘great post’ and little else? What’s wrong with you!
So you get a lot of those style comments on the site. Not a lot of challenges or questions, however.
In regard to the second point, we saw how insecure Michael Stelzner is with his business. This is totally understandable, what with fraudulent Facebook advice posts creeping their way in, terrible Disqus moderation, and a long line of paid writers.
I’m assuming the writers on this site are paid – I don’t know. I put in an app to guest post but was turned down in June.
Finally, the site does manage some good content. Overwhelmingly list-posts, the site still gets a few wheels in your head turning nonetheless.
The main problem is that they rely on ringers, er…guest posters, and with those folks you don’t get a sustained level of quality.
Writers that put up content each day and have themes, they give you high-quality. This flying from branch to branch like Social Media Examiner does, however, well…that gets you lots of stuff, but no real insight.
Of course these are my opinions. I'll continue to leave them on this site as it has value for me.
#5 Search Engine Journal
The main problem with this site is their short content. I wish they had more posts on the weekend.
You can leave a comment, so that’s nice. I was kicked off the site for leaving comments, however, so be wary.
What happened? I said that a post on writing a book was rubbish. People did not like that.
One thing that I get pissed about on this site, like many sites, are the low ratios of shares to comments.
Why do people share more than comment? Are they afraid to say anything?
Yeah, they are.
Commenting on a website is just like commenting in class. No one wanted to raise their hand back in high school and no one wants to now.
It’s a lot easier to pass notes to friends, and that’s what sharing is.
Search Engine Journal has some good posts and I’ll be keeping them on my bookmark bar.
A problem they run into his having so many writers. You never really get a feel for any particular one, never develop that name recognition.
Yep, they come and go here on SEJ, just like the advice. It often comes through one mouth, goes into one of your ears and then out the other.
You don’t remember this content many times.
I mean, if I wasn’t doing my Midweek Roundup posts I’d have a hard time remembering anything I read on this site.
Yeah, a lot of these sites begin to blend together after awhile. Be careful of that and try to spot ways that these sites stand out.
It’s tough, but I think you can manage.
#6 Search Engine Land
I hate this site’s design.
Clearly it’s for mobile. Why else would you have these images with white text bombarding you above the fold?
I never click on those, I just scroll down. When I do so I get to the dated articles so I know what’s new.
Now, visiting this site on the weekend is a complete waste of your time. Despite the wondrous ability we have to schedule posts, this “leading” SEO site chooses to let two days of the week just slip on by.
Why is that?
I guess it’s because they’re thought leaders.
Personally I’d like to see more sites post on the weekend. Do I expect to see this? No, don’t be stupid.
Besides the lackluster weekends, the content is as well. Barry Schwartz is the leading cause of this.
Schwartz is great for getting us the news fast, and first. He’s terrible at putting any analysis in there, historical insight, or even more than 250 words.
This is unacceptable and I can’t understand why it’s gone on so long.
Another fault I have with this site is their no commenting policy. Guys…what are you afraid of?
People questioning their posts or pointing out their lack of insight, I suspect.
Something else I don’t like are how the Land sites often have duplicate content. By this I mean they post a bit of a post that appeared on the other, hoping you will click over.
A lot of the time I feel Search Engine Land is more concerned with what affects them than what affects you and I.
I dunno, I just get that vibe.
I still like this site because they have fresh content that’s first. But you know what? Usually reading the headline is enough.
Yeah, many times I see that headline and I think, ‘damn, I don’t want to read that. It doesn’t affect me, and it kind of sounds boring anyways. Besides, I probably wouldn’t understand it.’
After that I close the site out for the day. So in that regard I click on maybe 3 to 4 articles a week, and this site puts up several a day.
I’ve just not found the content to be that relevant to me, or that informative on how I can benefit from the ideas.
#7 Marketing Land
This site has the exact same interface and look as Search Engine Land. There’s really no difference, so figure out which you like better and go for that.
I have to say, I find this content to be a bit more relevant to me – as someone that focuses more on content marketing over SEO – than Search Engine Land, or even Search Engine Journal.
I will say I get those 3 sites mixed up a lot – Search Engine Journal, Search Engine Land, Marketing Land.
I call these 3 the “Land” sites, because of the names and because they’re so similar. Two are owned by the same company, I believe.
Overall, I feel these 3 sites could do better.
I feel they’ve started to slack off a bit.
I’m disappointed by this.
No one else seems to be, but perhaps no one else has been visiting with an eye for detail for 60 days in a row…and long before that as well.
I do content curation on a daily basis and these are the things I notice.
The Land sites are letting their users down by not pushing the bar enough. They’ve become entitled, lazy in their success.
It’s sad, and I hope they begin to address this.
#8 Search Engine Watch
This site is run out of the UK. They do a good job with content, though I wish they’d get over the newspaperman’s habit of not capitalizing headlines.
Besides that, they have a small group of writers so you can begin to see themes in what they cover and how they write.
Comments are few on this site. When I first started going they had Roger for the most part, and he’d leave long comments.
He never left comments on any other Disqus sites that I could see, which I always thought was strange.
Something I have a problem with is the no-weekend content policy. Guys, it’s 2016 now and maybe you can schedule a post from one of the people clamoring to post on your site.
There are people clamoring...right?
Besides that, I find this content doesn’t really appeal to me. I get few engagements on the posts when I share them, telling me others feel the same.
I will say this is because I’m moving away from SEO, as I feel the world is.
I just don’t care that much about manipulating my site so it’ll do better on Google. I know that Google creates algo updates all the time to deal with sites doing that.
I said a lot of that on this site over the past 60 days. I got a lot of blowback.
In the end, that dies down. People get excited and then fall back into their SEO or content camps.
For this site, I’ll keep visiting but I’ve already stopped commenting. Many others have as well (Roger).
The site just kind of got boring for me, what can I say?
#9 Content Marketing Institute
I like this site a lot. They have some good ideas, it always revolves around content, and they post on the weekends.
I like that the owner, Joe Pulizzi, did not kick me off his site, though he probably should have numerous times.
I don’t like that there are few comments. I like that the article writers come back and comment on their posts.
I don’t like that there are always new writers. I do like that there aren’t so many new writers that I can’t recognize an old one from time to time…though that’s rare.
I could do without the podcasting.
Podcasting is something we’ve been taught we need to do though I don’t think there’s any clear evidence that it helps you.
It will waste lots of time on a Friday, however, and I feel that’s why many sites do this – they don’t have enough regular work to do at the end of the week.
Hey, I’ve worked in offices – I know how it goes.
The good news is that podcast sites often have a transcript that you can read. This takes a fraction of the time. Alas, it doesn’t give that site the on-site-time analytics they wanted.
Well, it’s not my job to benefit you – it’s your job to benefit me.
Sites that learn that key fact will do very well for a long time.
Forbes is a good site because they have a lot of business stats.
I like that. I like that I can get a lot of numbers on industries, earnings, and what people are making.
Now, I have to admit that many of the articles on the site don’t interest me.
Another problem is the number of writers – there are so many I can never develop a relationship with anyone.
Comments is another bother for me. I don’t like their interface, one that both doesn’t show comments until I click on them and also doesn’t allow me to comment unless I’m signed-in.
I'm not too concerned, however. I don't expect to have any sort of relationship with this site. It's just too large and full of itself.
If you don't believe me then I guess you weren't watching Steve Forbes in the debates back in '96 like I was.
Wow, this site has so much potential but it never seems to use it.
I especially like how they have the “4 minute read” posts.
Wow, this must be content for mobile users on the go, the kind that are looking for the next subway or metro stop.
Another thing are the articles with no date. I hate that. They have a date when you click over, and many times you find yourself on an article from June.
That’s why putting a date on your articles on the homepage is important. But this site would rather trick you into clicking on something that’s old.
It’s because they’re advertising whores.
Most times when you click on an article you get assaulted with a pop-up ad.
I will admit that you can skip the video ad right away. That’s a lot better than waiting 5 seconds.
Another fault is their Livefyre commenting section, which requires you to click to see.
Hardly anyone ever leaves comments, including the article writers.
Yeah, lots of ringers here. The site has paid writers or just those that guest post for links.
Mainly, generic advice from people that are trying to help themselves more than you. Well worth skipping, and I’ll be doing so each day now that I got rid of this abomination off my bookmark bar.
#12 Business 2 Community
God, why did I put this site back on my bookmark bar?
They suck and I’ve known they suck for some time. Besides their terrible homepage design that tells me way to much without telling me anything at all, the content is just…normal.
Yeah, they have normal content. It’s for regular people, the kind that go to offices at 9 and leave at 5, maybe doing their lunch at the desk.
I did that shit for years and my God it sucked.
Business 2 Community is a site for those people – the walking dead, the kind with 401(k)s.
I got rid of this site yesterday when I started this post. It feels good. It feels good knowing I won’t have to go there each day, hovering over their tabs to see if there’s anything new that I might like.
I just don’t have to bother with it anymore, and that’s a great feeling.
#13 Social Media Today
I like Social Media Today. They have lots of content, put it up on the weekend, and have lots of writers.
Sadly, this in no way makes up for their incredibly short posts, their old and tired tips, and the fact that they have so many writers revolving in and out that I never come to know any.
Worse, they now have a terrible tendency to put “sponsored content” right up on the homepage, labeled as such.
Overall, this site went way downhill. On top of it hardly anyone comments. Even the people that wrote the post never come back and make a comment.
Is the site dying?
It kind of feels that way at times. When I go there I often feel like I’m the first there, that the owner is watching me nervously, hoping I buy.
That just makes me want to run out of the place.
More and more, I go to this site and read the headlines. I click on two articles a day at most. I don’t even bother sharing them anymore, however, for the content is too generic.
Sharing this site's content might make me look bad.
Now, if you’re just starting out, this site can be good. They also have the occasional post that’s really good, full of stats and insight and analysis.
Sadly, those are the exception to the norm. If you’ve been visiting this site regularly, you know what I mean.
Alas, I don’t think this site has any regular visitors.
#14 Buffer Social
This is a good site, one of my favorites. They have long content, they have short content. Kevan Lee is really the stand-out on the site. Ash Read has some good ideas too.
Some things that bother me are the lackluster posting schedule. Again, we can do weekend content, guys; we can do posts more than every few days.
I dunno – maybe it’s a small team running this. Still, I’ve been a solo-blogger for years and can put up more content in a month than this site.
They had 11 posts in November, and even with the Thanksgiving holiday, this is pathetic.
It’s one of the sad state of affairs today that we think any kind of content will make up for not posting 19 days of the month.
I know we have this idea that killer or long-form content is more valuable to your audience than lots of smaller posts (read consistent), but that’s just not the case.
People want that consistency. They want to read new stuff each day.
They don’t want what Buffer puts you through all too often, and that’s long wait times for content, that let’s face it, isn’t that good after all that waiting.
Yeah, you built me up, but all too often you didn’t deliver on that promise.
Oh, there was no promise? Then what the hell was that 3-day wait for?
Sites with lackluster posting schedules need to have their head examined. It’s not working, guys.
#15 HubSpot Blogs
This is a good site, one that has at least three new articles each day.
The one fault I have with this site is that the content isn’t really specific to me. It’d probably be great if I was a small business owner or something.
But I’m not, really. This is definitely a site for business professionals more than regular bloggers.
Something else that bothers me a bit are the comments. This is another site where you need to click the comments to see them. That’s a terrible design.
Really, this is a site that I appreciate, but don’t really respect. I say that because I don’t read that many articles. It’s just not my cup of tea.
It’s important to find those sites. Maybe they’re on your bookmark bar now, keeping you plateaued on whatever level or stair you’re on.
Could it be time to do away with them, moving on to other, more relevant sites?
It’s certainly something to consider.
#16 Hot in Social Media
I kept this site on my bookmark bar for the whole experiment but it’s gone now.
I’m not interested in this site.
The content is weak, not very long, and not that interesting. There’s nothing new and the posting schedule is too slow for me.
I can find this same content on other sites. Social Media Today, a site that has the same type of weak content, does better. At least they have more of it and post it more often.
When you’re visiting 18 sites each day it’s a lot of work. When about half of those sites don’t have new content, and half of those have weak content, should you even bother?
I removed this site from my bookmark bar about 3 weeks into the case study.
It’s not worth anything to you, again, because it’s a Neil Patel site and I just don’t feel Neil Patel content is worth much.
#18 Crazy Egg
I removed this site from my bookmark bar about 3 weeks into the case study.
Again, Neil Patel site. I’d not bother with it, myself.
I do that on my site and I do that on these sites. Some like it, many don’t.
I gave you my opinion of these sites after visiting them each day for 2 months.
Maybe you agree with some of it, maybe some of it bothers you. Regardless, I hope that it’s made you think
I hope that it’s made you think, ‘my God – I can beat these guys! I can really do it. I mean, their content isn’t that good, their posting schedules aren’t that good, and they’re not really doing anything new!’
Hot damn – 2016 will be your year if you keep that attitude!
Far too often we coast by on past accomplishments.
These 18 sites do that a lot.
Let them know it. Do it in posts like this that tell them what you think. Do it in posts that just blow the shit out of whatever they put out.
You can do it – I’m counting on you.