Learning SEO More Important than AP Style

AP Style for Hashtags

Do we really need to have such a big focus on AP Style in journalism school when SEO is going to be more valuable? When I was taking my journalism classes in college, I haaaated AP Style.  For the record, I do not pretend to be a good writer at all.  In fact, I'm barely passable.

I wrote some pretty damn good stories in college but lost many grade points because of AP Style errors.  AP Style became the focus of my hatred for print media.  I enjoy reading print stories, but knew it would never be my profession.

Now that blogs, Twitter, and Facebook lead American news dissemination, how much does strict AP conformity really matter?

Not at all

There is an argument to be made that journalists should be taught both.  I can't really disagree. However, that's nearly impossible for many of us.

Most people have the capacity to learn one, maybe two writing styles, and actually be good at them.  Your first is the everyday email style of writing.  That's really what I would consider most of my blogging; halfway decent streams of thought.

Second would be your more formal article style writing.  Straight forward and clear, but not worrying much about AP Style.

Then there is this third category of New York Times style.  The apex AP Style.  

Writing for SEO is an art just like AP Style

Assuming that the brain typically has the capacity to handle only a couple of writing styles, (casual and formal) where's the room for AP and SEO?

If you are not the type to focus on things like SEO, let me just tell you that article writing for SEO is an art form that is just as hard to master as AP Style.  It takes a lot of time and effort to even become remotely successful at SEO.

SEO is far more important to learn today than AP.  SEO is what will help get you that first job, and earn you that first promotion because of all your ninja SEO skills.

If I had to cut classes due to a lack of patience and frustration, I would cut the AP Style course.  AP can be learned later in life.  There's no learning curve or shelf life to worry about.  The AP Style hardly ever makes significant changes to their overall spec.

SEO strategies and best practices change multiple times a week.  Journalists must learn SEO today to stay on top of their game.

Choosing the better of the two evils

If you are registering for classes and only have room for one course, choose the SEO class with the geeks.  It will pay off sooner than the AP Style class full of media elitists.  And remember, you can always learn AP later.

Lastly, and most importantly, don't forget to hire me when you see my resume cross your desk.

Bloggers are Conference Whores

It must have something to do with sitting indoors, behind a computer screen all day.  Bloggers, especially those that work independently, freelance, or run their own sites, turn into conference whores. Eventually, they stop going because they are actually interested in the conference.  Instead they go for two things: validation and socializing.  That's it.

Media ConferenceWe could skip the conference and business part and just get to the giant "prom" of geeky bloggers.

In the early days when people start getting into web publishing, they attend conferences to truly learn things and network with others.  Typically, I would go to learn more about a specific subject like layout, organic traffic, and advertising.

After a while though, you really have learned all you'll ever learn at these conferences and trade shows (doesn't take long!). But for whatever reason, you just keep going every year.

The shows become this weird annual reunion of otherwise strangers.  No one has any intention of actually working the show floor.  Maybe just to visit an old rep or seek out that hot new vendor.  If you're smart, you know which vendors are having private parties or have drink tickets, and you become friends with them.  For free drinks, most will swim through the soup of trade show nerds.

None of the veterans have any plans of attending the conference sessions to see speakers other than those led by their blogger buddies.

The rest is just a giant get together.  People compare notes, bitch about Google/SEO, compare how big theirs is [traffic that is], etc.

For a lot of guys, these events are their only social outlets for the year.  It is only among these people that they feel important.

If you've read this far, I'm sorry.  I didn't really have a point other than to make note of my observation.  Really, I've just noticed the quality of the events and quality of attendees really drop of in the last couple of years.  I believe this is why.

Photo credit.

How Personal Should You Get in Your Blog Posts?

One of the questions that I get asked quite often is about how personal should you get in your blog posts and honestly my only answer is “that depends on what your blog is about”.  For example if you are writing a review on a product or service then your point of view is important.  If you are writing a site on relationship problems and how to solve them, then your own personal experience might be relevant and helpful.  If you write about politics you can be opinionated but if you are updating your workplace blog then third person anecdotes and factual information might be more appropriate.

Personally I share as much of myself as is necessary to get my point across.  If I am writing about “make money tips’ then some of the things I have done and tried would be good examples to use in a post. 

When I write book reviews I give my opinion and the reasons for it.  There are times, like in the relationship niche for example, where I have used life experience to illustrate certain points but personally I don’t think that topics like what I had for breakfast, what I watched on TV last night, or what my mates and I got up to at the beach last summer is really important – because none of my blog topics are based on television programs, food or hijinks.

There are times when the personal approach is a good one.  Rori Raye, on her relationship sites gives a lot of personal stories about how she changed the state of her marriage by following the advice that she sells – heaven’s her business is based on it.  Tiffany Dow who is a well-known Internet Marketer shoots little videos of her dog, Honey, and puts them on her blog along with the more useful information – her readers love it.  John Chow is another successful blogger who actually does video trips he goes on with his family, places he goes to lunch and things like that – his readers love that he shares these aspects of his life along with really useful information about how others can succeed online.

So what is the point of this blog post?  Well that is simple.  To give you the same answer that I would give anybody else – it depends on the topic of your blog.  Another couple of tips I would suggest given that large corporations and employers now do searches on the internet for references to their employees (or applicants) is don’t post anything online you would not want to share in a job interview – because you will never know when that embarrassing photo someone took of you last summer will show up on your Facebook page.