Opinion

Nine things that bug me about internet publishing

In this guest post, Salli Jokinen highlights nine things she thinks online publishers should stop doing.

After 15 years of surfing the internet, I would like to highlight some of the negative trends that, in my opinion, are taking internet publishing in the wrong direction.

Not publishing dates in blog posts

Many Internet marketers are guilty of this. They do not publish dates anywhere on their blog posts, and when an unsuspecting surfer looking for specific information lands on their page, they have no idea how old the actual information is.

Hiding the date in blog posts is usually done because Google favours fresh content and writers do not want their posts being forgotten in cyberspace. That is all good, until the information in the post becomes outdated. This happens more often than one would expect, and a post dating even less than a year back can already contain old content.

This is irritating for a person looking for specific information. I cannot help but wonder what sort of an impression a blog like this leaves on the visitor if they end up wasting time reading old content.

Writing blog posts by numbers

Also very common among internet marketers. They know what type of content is popular online and produce corresponding material. If you are like me and subscribe to multiple marketers’ RSS feeds, you might have noticed that the majority of posts consist mainly of top 10 lists and how-tos.

This ties in with the fact that many blog posts have obviously been published merely for the sake of posting something. They are thin in content and state facts that are already known to everyone, and don’t contribute much to the discussion. It is also quite obvious that these posts are geared more towards search engines than anything, as an attempt to have fresh content on their website.

It is understandable that a catchy headline is a must when writing blog posts and it is nice to have new content on the website on a regular basis, but what about the actual visitors who come to the blog? Do they get anything out of it? Personally, I have found that when looking for tips and help, forums have become the number one source to go to for good advice.

Infographics with no real value

I assume everyone has by now come to know that infographics are very popular, or at least were popular. The best infographics gather a plethora of sources of data together and present it in a visually interesting way. The last few years have seen the rise of infographics that are relatively poor in content and visually messy, with the main intention behind these being the promotion of a company.

Providing actual useful data in a visually interesting way would establish the creators as knowledgeable in their field rather than as mere promoters trying to take advantage of the latest marketing trend.

Hiding email addresses

This is one of the big no-nos that many businesses are guilty of. The internet has opened great new ways for businesses to market themselves and most of them have happily embraced them, broadcasting their newest offers on their social media channels and sending out newsletters via email.

The internet is supposed to facilitate communication between people. If a business does not feature email addresses on their website and accepts telephone calls only, they are not abiding by one of the core principles of the internet and can come off as pre-historic.

A website that looks too impersonal

Ever come across a website that looks too slick? Many of the modern websites have an overly smooth look with their cookie cutter templates, chrome buttons and overuse of stock photos. Although these websites have a certain look of professionalism to them, they also lack the human touch.

The danger with having a website like this is that the business can come over looking like a scam. If there is no evidence of real people working for the business, e.g. photos of employees or conversational copy, the visitors are likely to turn to someone else.

Linking to too many internal pages

When writing up content for your blog, it is good SEO practice to link to some other relevant posts on your website. However, some people go overboard with this wishing to reference multiple posts without giving a short summary in the actual post for the reader. There is one place on the internet where this sort of linking is acceptable, even encouraged, and that is Wikipedia.

The worst offenders are the writers who like to include a minimum of 10 links to their 300 word blog post, with the posts in question consequently becoming quite distracting and irritating to read.

Copy that links through to another post should contain a gist of the other post’s content, so that the reader only need click on it if they want more in-depth information.

Breaking an article into multiple pages

Businesses are still trying to find reliable revenue sources online. Especially media publications. This has prompted websites to break up their content on to multiple pages so there’s more space for ads. Imagine clicking through a top 100 list of the cutest cats with only one photo per page.

Some of the better websites I have visited initially break the articles on to several pages, but also give the visitor the option to view the article on a single page.

Video autoplay

Having an animated person talking to you as soon as you visit a website is, at long last, a thing from the past. I am glad it was a mere fad, akin to the midi music that played on Geocities sites in the 90s. That was until website owners decided to start playing their videos automatically.

On many occasions, I have almost had a heart attack while surfing the web when the speakers on my computer have blasted an ad without warning, leaving me desperately trying to find the offending website from a sea of open tabs.

It is understandable from a marketer’s point of view to want to be assertive to get people’s attention. But is force feeding them video really the right way to do this? Auto-play videos are like flashing banner ads, only much louder. Most likely, many are also aware that banner ads do not work and are considered annoying by the majority of surfers. What makes these videos any better?

Tweeting links to your old blog posts

There are two rules to tweeting; 1) one should go to Twitter for breaking content and 2) one should not over-promote oneself on Twitter.

I have noticed people on Twitter who exclusively link to their own blog posts, which is bad enough. No one likes a non-stop self-promoter. But what’s worse is that much of the tweeted content can be over a year old.

Of course everyone wants to get as much traffic to their blog as possible. But I suggest perhaps stopping the insistent quest for blog traffic. Otherwise it looks spammy.

Lolcats

This one is pretty subjective, but as I am not exactly the biggest fan of cats, it’s also one of the more annoying trends.

People online enjoy combining amusing photos of these aforementioned fur balls and ‘Cheezburgerise’ them with clever captions. This phenomenon has gone as far as launching a TV show and an exhibition about these cutesy pictures.

It is pretty difficult being anti-cat online, but I hope Lolcats (except perhaps for the Grumpy Cat) become a dead trend soon.

Having listed many of the things that bother me about the online world, I must confess that I am not entirely innocent myself. At times, I’ve engaged in some of the behaviour described above. But I do find myself missing the olden days when the internet was more innocent – and I was less cynical.

Salli Jokinen is digital marketing manager at Melbourne creative studio Yoke

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