The slow growth of my blog’s feed subscription count was once quite frustrating to me. I’ve always tried to write posts that are unique, educational, and honest and I outright avoid (and often mock) blog posts that are regurgitations of the latest Google press release. And yet, my subscription count grows at about 50 subscribers a year. Other blogs -the ones that follow the “quantity not quality” approach to writing, grow like weeds.

Lately, however, I’ve come to terms with my blog’s readership. Here’s what I’ve realized: most people that read and/or write SEM blogs know virtually nothing about SEM. Most often they fall into two camps: SEO experts who are convinced that they know enough about SEM to write about it, or big agency-types who try to parlay their knowledge of corporate branding into correlaries in the SEM world.

These bloggers get big exposure – they get invited to “Search Insider” events, they get Sphunn frequently, they appear at all the big search conferences, and they even get recognition for being leading online marketing influencers. But when you read what they are saying about SEM, its pretty clear that they are “all hat and no cattle.” As far as I can tell, most of them haven’t even managed a campaign since around 2003.

Want some examples of what I mean? Here’s a few:

This week 45 people Sphunn an SEM article that suggested as one of the 7 best practices for SEM, and I quote: “Don’t bid on Content Network – I know some might disagree with me here but this is purely based on my own experience & what works best for me and my clients. I feel that even though bidding at content network is often cheaper, but in terms of conversion the performance of content network is very poor.” My response: I am glad that this sort of misinformation is spreading to the masses – more ROI for me on contextual advertising!

Earlier this month, at the (sic) Search Insider Summit, a speaker apparently gave a whole presentation with (again I quote) this conclusion: “In this morning’s sponsored breakfast session, Vantage Media shared its POV that the long tail is dead and brand terms should be the main focus for search marketers.” My response: Brand terms should be the main focus? So that gives me, what, about 25 terms in my account?

In Search Engine Land (Danny, you can do better than this!), a link-bait article about the nine myths of Quality Scores notes, among other things: “Myth 6: Google hates affiliates False. The question affiliates should ask themselves is: “Was the user’s search experience made better by visiting my page before going to the merchant’s page?” My response: Clearly, the author has never work with or for an affiliate marketing company trying to run ads on Google!

I could go on and on with more examples, but you get the point: there’s just a lot of misinformation that gets touted as good advice out there. But here’s what I’m really trying to say about all of this (took me long enough to get to the point): I’m OK with a smaller blog audience because you – my readers – are the readers I want to reach. I now understand that my blog can never grow to 10,000 subscribers, simply because there aren’t 10,000 people in the SEM community that understand SEM well enough to actually “get” my posts.

And that’s OK. At the end of the day, I’m glad that I can write posts that are too complicated for the average ClickZ reader and still get almost 400 readers. I suspect if I did a poll of the audience of this blog, I’d find more advanced degrees and serious SEM experience by a factor of 5X than what you find on the ‘popular’ blogs. So thanks for being a reader and congratulations, you must be pretty knowledgeable of SEM!

By the way, the idea that I would welcome a “smaller” audience of readers did immediately remind me of one of my favorite movies, This Is Spinal Tap. The classic scene goes like this:

MARTY: The last time Tap toured America, they were, uh, booked into 10,000 seat arenas, and 15,000 seat venues, and it seems that now, on their current tour they’re being booked into 1,200 seat arenas, 1,500 seat arenas, and uh I was just wondering, does this mean uh . . . the popularity of the group is waning?

IAN: Oh, no, no, no, no, no, no . . . no, no, not at all. I, I, I just think that the . . . uh . . .their appeal is becoming more selective.

Yes friends, my blog does indeed go to 11!


  1. Anonymous December 20th, 2008

    David, I couldn’t agree with you more. Keep up the good work. There is so much garbage being posted these days, I suppose because there are more than enough people who eat it up.I consider your blog to be an Opus One in a land of Two Buck Chuck.

  2. David Rodnitzky December 21st, 2008

    Thank you anonymous-but-clear-bay-area-based reader!

  3. Jeremy Mayes December 21st, 2008

    Keep up the quality work. There’s so much crap out there (last week I read that the name of your ad group impacts your quality score…) in relation to paid search it’s frightening. You don’t think anyone takes that stuff seriously until you start looking at the accounts the so called “experts” have worked on.

  4. David Rodnitzky December 21st, 2008

    Thanks Jeremy. The whole paid search expert industry reminds me of “The Music Man” – a lot of so-called experts ripping people off and then moving to the next victim!

  5. Sarah Tavel December 22nd, 2008

    Amen @Jeremy. Would rather read quality over quantity any day!

  6. alan January 6th, 2009

    David — It isn’t how many folks read a blog, but which folks. Congrats on reaching 400 (I’m one of ’em) via quality content –Alan

  7. David Rodnitzky January 6th, 2009

    Thanks Sarah and Alan, glad to count both of you as readers!David

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David Rodnitzky
David Rodnitzky is founder and CEO of 3Q Digital (formerly PPC Associates), a position he has held since the Company's inception in 2008. Prior to 3Q Digital, he held senior marketing roles at several Internet companies, including (2000-2001), FindLaw (2001-2004), Adteractive (2004-2006), and Mercantila (2007-2008). David currently serves on advisory boards for several companies, including Marin Software, MediaBoost, Mediacause, and a stealth travel start-up. David is a regular speaker at major digital marketing conferences and has contributed to numerous influential publications, including Venture Capital Journal, CNN Radio, Newsweek, Advertising Age, and NPR's Marketplace. David has a B.A. with honors from the University of Chicago and a J.D. with honors from the University of Iowa. In his spare time, David enjoys salmon fishing, hiking, spending time with his family, and watching the Iowa Hawkeyes, not necessarily in that order.