I often find myself reading something entirely not SEO-related, which is why, I think, I like reading John Chow’s blog. Not every day. But on occasion.
Well, this morning on his blog John Chow talked about going off topic on his blog. It seems that some of his readers don’t like it when he isn’t talking about making money. John points out that his blog is intended to be a personal blog, which gives him liberty to talk about anything he wants to talk about. It just so happens that he likes talking about making money.
I find his post a little bit humorous – and I’m sure he does as well – but it does have a serious element of being true. Here’s he what he had to say in his own words:
To me, none of my posts are off topic. Every posts I make fits one or more of the 12 categories I cover. However, many new readers discovered this blog because it’s known for helping people make money online and find it strange to see a restaurant review or a car post. I would like to think that these kinds of post add variety to the blog and help readers get to know me better. After all, this blog bears my name. When I first checked out Grace Cheng’s Forex blog, the first thing I did was find out more about Grace because the blog bears her name. If it was call ForexTrading.com, then I probably wouldn’t have done that.
I’ll have to say that I agree. Blogs are inherently personal. However, there is a kind of blog that isn’t personal at all and is all about business. I suspect that the readers who want John Chow to stick with making money topics are interested in the second kind of blog – they want it to be all about business. But that isn’t John’s style and it’s not the focus of his blog. This brings to mind the first thing that I think every blogger should do, namely, define a purpose for their blog. Do you want your blog to be “personal” or do you want it to stick to being “all about business?” Only you can decide, but you should give it serious thought.
The name of your blog will dictate a lot on how far and how often you can go off topic. The more specific the name is, the harder it is to go off topic.
Again, I’ll have to agree. Search Engine Optimization Journal is about search engine optimization. You won’t find me talking about working on cars or reviewing restaurants, unless I’m drawing an analogy or using a point to speak about a topic related to SEO. In that regard, I’m a little bit more limited than John Chow is on his blog, maybe somewhat less personal, but that’s not necessarily a bad thing. Although, if you read my blog on a regular basis you’ll find that I’m not necessarily “all business.” I’d like to think I have a little bit of a sense of humor.
I always feel that a non-updated blog is a dead blog. If you cover a niche that is very narrow, it can be hard to post something new everyday. Given a choice between a reader seeing the same post or a new post when they visit, I take the new post every time. Writing a few off topic posts can not only give you more to write about, it will increase your traffic as well. Some of my highest commented posts have been ramblings posts.
Once again, I agree with John’s insights here. You want to update your blog as often as possible. At least once a day preferably, but as often as you are able. And narrow niches don’t afford you many possibilities. You’ll quickly run out of topics to write about if your focus is too narrow. So really give your purpose some serious thought.
Of course, while I agree with John on his basic premise, I can’t help but wonder if he’d be having the same level of success if he weren’t John Chow. I mean, he can afford a personal blog with liberty to “ramble.” If he were simply some Schmo and no one knew who he was then I doubt the majority of his readers would stick around to hear what he says about Pagani Zonda. Which brings me to back to my original premise and its caveat: Define the purpose of your blog, but don’t make your purpose “musings” or “ramblings,” even if you are writing a personal blog, unless you have a reputation like John Chow to back it up.