Not going to lie, I have no memory of how this site even works. It appears to be some kind of bloated WordPress monstrosity, which is sadly the default if you request a WP install on Dreamhost. Working in content, I often encounter this kind of thing. Clients have so many plugins on their WP sites that they have no idea what plugin does what. I am a firm believer of using the basic WordPress native stuff for as much as possible, but here I am writing this on some weird plugin page builder, for the simple reason that I also do not know what plugins do what here. If I turn off this page builder plugin will it break my entire site? Anyway here are some links for the week:

  • When it comes to content, is data science actually scientific?: This is very interesting to me because a lot of it reminds me of reverse engineering games, which I’ve been doing as a hobby for a long time. With reverse engineering (RE), you generally do not have access to the code of the game as written by the devs. You’re forced to work on the compiled code which is often pretty unreadable (often it’s basic machine code). Figuring out what is going on often requires trial and errors. It’s the same with many of these content experiments IMHO. They can’t read Google’s code, they have to use other methods to figure out what’s going on. OFC the difference is in gaming RE you can modify the code, which gives you greater ability to see how it works. For example I created a toy that modifies moods in the game Petz because I found an area of the code in a debugger and modified it, noticing what changed. With things like the SEO experiments Reboot does there is only so much you can gather from the results. Either way it’s fantastic content marketing for that agency!
  • Journalism prepares for a post-search, post-social future: The journalism scene I’m most familiar with is local food writing and that’s almost entirely switched to Substack. Is Substack “social”? That’s ambiguous especially with their new Twitter-ish Notes product.
  • Indie SEO success story: SEO isn’t just for companies. As I mentioned I am involved in gaming and gaming sites/wikis are usually made by passionate volunteers. How do we compete with corporate-funded entities like Fandom and Fextralife? With for the game Baldur’s Gate 3, gamers who have day jobs in SEO coordinated in Discord to get the site ranking above Fextralife for many searches. One edge I think has is the content is hand-written whereas Fextralife auto-generated a bunch of pages with boilerplate text for common items. The Fashion Dreamer wiki I contribute to is also rising in the ranks. While some of the volunteers utilize SEO tools from their day jobs, the biggest edge I think is having content so useful that it gets organic backlinks.
  • With current economic conditions, many startups are not as flush with money as they used to be. That means fewer marketing/content staff, or none at all. Content like tutorials is extremely valuable for software products, but who can make it? The traditional freelance content model often breaks down, since the writer needs time to learn the product. That’s where our product showcase comes in handy. My colleague Eric learned Milvus so he could write excellent tutorials like this.
  • Listening to: Newsroom robots + Grumpy SEO guy