It has recently been estimated that within over ten billion websites, there are over one trillion invidivual web pages out there. And while even Yahoo and Google have most likely not counted them all, the underlying point is that the Internet is far from what it used to be. In a sense, it could be compared to a massive city, where there are skyscrapers, shadowy alleys, and a whole lot of business going on at any given moment of every day. While this is definitely a good thing (and has created innumerable new opportunities for hard-working entrepreneurs and their employees), it has also led to a belief among far too many people and entities that if you write “something,” people are inevitably going to come to your site. While it is always good to be positive and to believe in oneself, this belief is potentially harmful in a whole lot of ways.
For one thing, a great deal of the content which is on the Internet is nothing new. And while you could easily argue that there is nothing new under the sun, the blogs of the world are chock full of the unique voices of many people reaching out to share their insights. The great power of Web 2.0 wasn’t in getting a lot of people to connect to each other – it’s in actually listening to what these people are trying to say, and allowing them to say it with a voice as loud as only a big business can traditionally use.
Naturally, being found by the search engines is important. But being found by people is infinitely more so. For this reason, every voice needs to be treated as having the potential for equal importance. But with that degree of respect for the opinions of others also comes a level of responsibility. It is seriously hard to say anything that feels new, considering that every word, every sentence, feels like nothing but the echo of millions which came before. In this way, a writer must carefully ponder both their topics, and their delivery. Otherwise, you may write it, but they won’t come.
The nature of being found by people is that it is the result of having your articles be linked to. While back linking is a good step toward this, an even better step is the use of great, original material that helps to add value to someone else’s life. When you can add value to another person, you have created something which is worth them pointing out to their friends as preferentially different from “the pack.” While a lot of other online resources might be directing people to do the same things that a bunch of other articles have already told them to do, you can be saying something completely different from the rest.
But of course, you don’t want to be contrarian just for its own sake. One of the hallmarks of well-written content (which is the most likely to go viral and be referenced frequently) is that it cites its sources and uses high-quality information. If you believe something, tell your readers why. Then people will find you.