Who decides what gets noticed on the web? There are millions of blogs. How do you find the interesting ones? Traditional media like TV, Newspapers, Magazines, and Radio have editors and program directors that decide what gets published or broadcast. They filter out the bad stuff (pornography, profanity, slander) and organize the good stuff into a neat category or genre that we might be interested in. Who does this for web content?
Search engines help us find stuff. Lots of stuff. They do their best to rank results for relevance and importance to our search terms, but they don't recommend content. Web site owners employ SEO's (Search Engine Optimizers) to make their sites rank higher for particular search terms. Advertisers target their ads to the search terms we enter. Spammers and Porn sites try to trick the search engines by disguising their sites with popular words, names or phrases.
Most of the time search engines deliver relevant results with reasonably targeted ads. However, sometimes due to deceptive marketing we are exposed to stuff we were NOT looking for. Protecting children, and adults, from exposure to pornography was the fundamental issue behind the government's request for data from all the search engines. An admirable goal. How do we protect society without violating individuals right to privacy? It is a delicate balance.
Bloggers write interesting stuff hoping for links and search hits. Everyone wants to get noticed. Technorati, Findory, Techmemeorandum, Digg, Reddit, Blogniscient, and others try to organize blogs into appropriate categories by employing algorithms, tags, voting systems, link ranking, and other methods. There are also "A-list" bloggers and opinion leaders in each category who recommend good blogs, link to interesting content, and attract comments from relevant contributors.
So, who are the new gatekeepers (editors) for the web? There are no gates...it is wide open. Anyone can publish anything. The web is the great magnifier of society. If you are looking for good or evil, you can find it...lots of it. If you are looking for cancer cures or support groups you can find them. If you are looking for porn or hate groups you can find them. There are no gates. There aren't even any fences on the web. That is part of the problem.
OK, so how do I get my site or blog noticed? Is it all luck and serendipity? Here are some suggestions.
- Focus on a specific topic or genre. Don't generalize.
- Link to other sites and blogs focused on your area of interest.
- Post relevant timely news and announcements. Add your perspective or opinion.
- Post comments at news sites with stories relevant to your space. Leave a link.
- Post comments on other blogs that add perspective to the discussion.
- Identify the top opinion leaders in your space. Link to them. Comment on their site.
- Write interesting and provocative posts. Add perspective and your experience.
- Use tags and keywords. This helps get you categorized and indexed by search engines.
- Send pings to Technorati, Pingomatic, blo.gs, and other indexers.
- Create a memorable title for your blog. Include your name in the title.
There are a million things competing for our attention. We have subconsciously developed filters to screen out things we are not interested in or don't have time for. Think hard about the rules you have developed to filter things. Now optimize your site or blog for those filters...and you will attract a large audience of like minded people.
The traditional passive (push) media, TV and radio, have gatekeepers that decide what gets broadcast. The web is an active (pull) media where everything is available. We are our own attention filters. We decide what to subscribe to, and what to ignore. We use search engines, recommendation services, and opinion leaders to help us find what we are looking for. Optimize for these sources and you will get attention and get noticed.