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For ‘bloggers, diversification avoids stagnation

Thursday, 1 May 2008 — by

Having been a ‘blogger for over 3 years now, I’ve come to learn that the longevity of my ‘blog is down to the diversity of topics I write about. But with all this talk of finding the right niche, my advice is be focused, but think broad…

A case in point would be SEO (Search Engine Optimization) ‘bloggers. Like any other niche, there’s competition and there are thought leaders; those people that start the conversations, or who disclose the new tips, tricks and tactics that others in their industry pick up and then talk about.

However, how many times can so many people say the same thing? Or more worryingly, how many times can the same person keep saying the same things?

In search of respectability and individuality

So the smart SEO ‘blogger goes beyond just SEO and writes about those other related topics, which I’ll come to in a moment.

Another problem is the tarnished perception / reputation of the SEO industry in certain quarters, much like the web design industry before it and probably still to some extent.

Because web design and SEO are still pretty new concepts to a lot of businesses out there, there are those who seek to take advantage of this naiveté, who then go on to charge stupid sums of money for either erroneous work, or work never completed.

Those people dirty the waters the likes myself and those like me have to walk through. And even for those profiting from such duplicitous activities, they’ll ultimately discover an ever closing circle of diminishing returns.

While these problems aren’t particular to the SEO industry, they’re a good example.

Unless you’re the thought leader in your field, you’re going to find your voice being crowded out by everyone else. Sure, you can always rely on Social Media & Social Networking, right?

Adding to these problems is the tendency for almost any SEO article to hit the auto-bury brigade on Digg, snuffing out a wonderful chance for broader exposure of what might be a wonderful article.

Thankfully, there are other more receptive venues such as Sphinn and StumbleUpon out there.

Making a case for a strong niche

An example of a strong niche would be legal & law. Although law is seemingly a permanent edifice of society, new laws appear yearly. Also, some court cases often challenge and push existing laws to their very limits.

Law itself is a vast space, made up of innumerable parts, all with their own take on law, all with their own rules, practices and precedents.

By looking at the law industry in general, we can see the outlying benefits of diversity to a ‘blog, which we’ll look at next.

Diversify or die — making the write choice

Using SEO as an example again, there are quite a few closely related and peripheral areas that certainly help in broadening and deepening your ‘blogging voice.

Complement your knowledge

Consider your knowledge of SEM (Search Engine Marketing), also known as Internet Marketing. Though quite different — the former being more a technical discipline while the latter is a function of marketing — they’re deeply complementary.

Also, there’s SMO (Social Media Optimization) & SMM (Social Media Marketing), too. Although I’m being painfully simplistic, SEO has more of a bias towards the search engines, while SMO is more biased towards actual people.

If you’re keen on offering an even broader base of related topics, then there’s also Personal Branding & Brand Management, as well as Reputation Management to throw into the mix.

As you can see, we’ve gone from just the one subject area to seven, all of which have varying levels of overlap and inter-dependancies, meaning you have enough to keep your Big Think Engine from stalling!

Strength in depth

For me personally, I never made a conscious decision to write about a load of different topics, that just happened over time. When I started ‘blogging, there wasn’t the same level of competition or topic saturation there is now.

From an SEM perspective, the sheer diversity of back-links from other ‘blogs & websites I attract with my diverse range of articles means I have a stronger base from which to build on. I’m not relying on any one topic, should that topic fall out of favour or fashion.

Additionally, because of this diversity, I appeal to a much broader audience, some of might read an article about a particular subject they might otherwise ignore.

Too broad? Too bad!

However, despite the longevity of Blah, it’s not sweetness & light because of the variety of topics I write about.

Because of the breadth & depth of topics I cover, my readers either need: 1. tastes as broad as my own; 2. enough patience to sit out the periods in between articles that do interest them, or; 3. a rich blend of points 1-2.

At the furthest end of the diversity scale, think of all those ‘blogs you see with titles like: “John Smiths ‘blog — rants, raves and other random ramblings!”

We’ve all seen them! While we may have read a handful of good articles from such ‘blogs, they’re rarely memorable. And because the subject matter is so diverse and so deeply eclectic, it’s hard stay interested.

In conclusion…

For those people that offer a diverse yet select range of topics within a specific industry, or related industries, my feeling is, even for those of modest literary skills — assuming they keep up a regular pace of articles — they should do fine…

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David Bradley → Friday, 2 May 2008 @ 9:02 BDT

Couldn’t agree more. My Sciencebase site began life in 1996 as an online version of a chemistry column I used to write in the early to mid 1990s for the Royal Society of Chemistry. By 1999 it had its own domain and has grown into a much more diverse website than a simple chemistry news round up, but still heavily focused on science. That said, with it I cover almost every topic under the sun from controversial conjectures about life, the universe, and everything to straightforward reporting on scientific research. It seems to work.

db

Nick → Friday, 2 May 2008 @ 12:45 BDT

Hi Wayne,

Great post. Definitely one to think about. A successful website will continually look to diversify to reach new audiences while remaining within the overall plan. The trick is to not diversify too soon.

Nick

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