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Content anticipation: Inc. magazine vs. Inc.’s website

I have revealed in my last post that I am a bit of a sports fan. I am not a sports geek. I grew out of that a little while ago. While many get turned off by my kind, I will let you know that while I am not well-rounded, I am also not flat.

As a result, I have a favorite business magazine that I love and that I have a strange relationship with. Yes, that’s right…a relationship. You see, good content makes that happen. Hence, the anticipation of what I will find when the latest Inc. magazine arrives in the mail.
Much like my relationship with Sports Illustrated that I discussed in my last post, I am very attached to Inc. magazine, but only in the printed form. Why? Well, I’ll tell you the story if you sit still and behave.
About three years ago I finally subscribed to Inc. magazine. I was starting an ill-fated run at entrepreneurship with my own small Internet marketing agency, and I wanted to see how the cool kids did it. As a result, I started reading Inc and I instantly fell in love with it. Great articles, great writing, great thinking. It had (and still has) it all.


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The trouble I ran into though was on their Web site. You see, I made the assumption that since the magazine was so incredible that the Web site would follow suit. Maybe it did, but the first thing I did on the site turned me off so much that I threw in the towel immediately.
At the time, Inc. had an SEO Guide and I thought, “That’s a smart thing to do considering the types of businesses and business people who read the magazine. Well, when I went into this ‘guide’ there were precious few articles that were current. As I dug a little deeper I found that their guide in 2007 was full of articles that were, well, just old.
Even today this guide contains 16 articles that are dated from the years 2000 to 2005. Something that old in the SEO space is the equivalent of a Web site on wireless communication referring to the effectiveness of smoke signals (hey, it’s still wireless). It shows a lack of concern for the reader (or just a desire to keep the content there to appease the search engines, which is just bad policy when it comes to credibility and user experience).
Oh, and the kicker is that the guide is under the technology tab rather than the sales and marketing tab. I think we can all agree that SEO is much more of a marketing function than it is a technology play. It is 2010, after all.
So, the point of this is that the magazine never runs the threat of being a spoiler because of poor maintenance or some other factor. Inc. magazine is current. It’s more current than the Web site because dated material doesn’t appear in the latest edition. It can’t because it will look bad. Well, the same holds true for the Web site.
To Inc.’s credit they have made an attempt to spruce up the guide but articles about Google and its issues in China are about the search business and not SEO. Guides are not turned to for current events. That’s what blogs and other reporting entities are for. So, even to this day I have wondered just how much other poorly managed or just plain dated material exists on the site about an area where I have no knowledge and could be taking in something that is years behind the learning curve. As a result, I look at Inc. as a great magazine and not much else.
So, be careful with what you keep around on your Web site. What makes sense to you might look horrible to your reader. In the end, your opinion means nothing and theirs means everything.
For the record, I will be re-upping my subscription to Inc. magazine for three years. Maybe in that time I’ll learn to trust their Web site. Hey, stranger things have happened.

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