3 things blogging and the Dewey Decimal System have in common

October 19, 2011

Blogger outreach

"Son, this is the Dewey Decimal System. But don't worry about figuring this crazy card catalog out. Because in the future, you'll have The Google." (Image credit: Thezenlife.com)


You remember the Dewey Decimal System, right? Well, if you’re over the age of 25, you probably do. You know, that card catalog. In the library. Some might call it the original search engine. We used it to help us find the books we were looking for. Before there was “the Google” and “the Interwebs.” A long time ago. In a galaxy far, far away.

To be honest, I hadn’t thought about the Dewey Decimal System since I had a research paper due back in high school and that Encyclopedia Brittanica nerd from the commercials popped into my head, reminding me encyclopedias were good for something else besides causing teenagers early back issues. But recently, my friends Elisa and Shelly referenced our friend Dewey’s system when talking about SEO and blogging. And all of a sudden, I could hear my parents talking to me from a cartoon thought bubble – “You’ll be glad you studied the Dewey Decimal System someday.”

Like with most things our parents tell us, they were right. But I’d never tell them that. Instead, I’m going to tell you why Dewey’s cards with running decimals are a great analogy for understanding search and the value of blogging.

1. Web pages=cards in the catalog. Elisa is the one who painted this picture for me in a recent presentation. And it makes perfect sense, which is why I like it. Remember how some books had multiple cards in Dewey’s catalog while others just had one or none? That research report I had to do back in high school was on Harry S. Truman. Now I can guarantee you, because I remember, that the books with more than one card in the catalog were the ones I was more likely to find. Simple law of averages. And it’s the same with web pages. Think of each web page you create as an entry for your brand in Dewey’s online Decimal System. We call it Google. The more entries you have, the easier it is for people to find via search.

2. Blogging is the easiest way to create cards in the catalog. I owe this tip to Shelly. Again, it seems obvious when you hear it. But how many people or companies spend time blogging? Not that many. If you manage a blog, you know that every time you create a new post, you create a new page within your blog. And this means a few things happen. One, you have new pages show up in Google search. Two, Google knows your website has been active when “the spiders” stop by your blog to check out what you’ve been up to. Three, you set yourself up to give and get link love to/from other bloggers, which in turn drives Google to bump up your site in its search rankings.

3. Word of mouth recommendations still trump the catalog. When I did my Harry Truman report, I found many of my own resources thanks to Dewey. At the Harry S. Truman Library by the way. You should totally check it out next time you’re in Independence, Mo. But I also found several resources thanks to my teacher’s and classmates’ recommendations. And the latter were the ones I checked out first when I was rummaging through the catalog. So how’s that compare to blogging? Well, do you have a content promotion strategy for your posts? Or do you Field of Dreams it and hope since you built it, they will come. This just in, they won’t. In addition, are you using a comment system like Livefyre that encourages alerting readers via their social network presences when someone mentions them in a comment?  Nothing draws me to a blog post faster than a tweet or Facebook post saying someone just mentioned me in a comment. If that makes me vain, then I’m vain.

Sometimes the best way to explain the value of something people are uncomfortable with is to relate it to something they know well. If you’re under 25, I didn’t do that here at all. My bad. But if you remember libraries and card catalogs like you remember the theme song to Family Ties, then hopefully this helped you see blogging and search in a new light. Thanks to Elisa and Shelly for the tips.

So, what do you think? Are you going to blog more often now? Did you have to look up the Dewey Decimal System on Google?

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guitarfreak 9 pts

omg I haven't heard of the dewey decimal system in years lol...nice post

JGoldsborough 250 pts moderator

guitarfreak I know, right? Been a long time for me too :).

My latest conversation: 7 ways to go the extra mile on your pitches

ShellyKramer 171 pts

Love this post. And not because I'm mentioned. It just makes such perfect sense. Great job, JG!

JGoldsborough 250 pts moderator

ShellyKramer I learn from the smartest, Shelly. And that would be peeps like you :).

My latest conversation: 7 ways to go the extra mile on your pitches

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livefyre Thanks for the RT. Do you remember the Dewey Decimal System? :)


jgoldsborough You bet we do...well, everyone except for our Product Manager bengo...that was a bit before his time ;)


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