Users have the worst product ideas

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Over the last 3 months, I have removed more features than I've added. It has been a tug-of-war between listening to what users say they want and how their desires manifest.

Allowing Users to Specify Output Length

The most common example of this is the "allow me to specify the output length" feature request.

Users read SEO headlines that say "longer content ranks better" and they come to AIMD thinking that their blog post about "Easiest method for folding socks" needs to be 2,000 words. This is a bad idea. You cannot write 2,000 words of quality content on a thin/narrow topic. The output will be fluffy and unhelpful. Neither your users nor search engines will appreciate/reward it.

So specifying the output length is mostly bad for the user. Yet, out of 25 competing products in the market, 23 of them have this feature.

For the record, I am not saying that long-form content is bad. I am saying that long-form content for the sake of long-form content is bad. AIMD can generate long-form content, but the length is determined based on the complexity of the topic and the depth of the input.

Allowing Users to Specify Keywords

Another example is users coming with a list of 20 keywords they've identified as opportunities. They want to "stuff" these keywords into their articles. This is also a bad idea. In fact, Google has very clear spam policies and keyword stuffing is one of them.

So what do you do when users come with these ideas? Do you build the features they ask for? Do you educate them on why these are bad ideas? Do you ignore them?

1 Sentence Rule for SEO

I prefer not to oversimplify complex subjects with single-sentence rules, but if there is one rule that I think is generally true in SEO, it is that long-term success comes from creating helpful content.

It doesn't matter how many backlinks you have or how many keywords you stuff into your articles. Even if you manage to get a spotlight for high volume keywords, if your content is not helpful, your audience will churn and your rankings will drop.

Is it possible to develop customer loyalty using "AI generated" content? That's a whole different subject. I firmly believe that the answer is yes, but we have ways to go before we get there.

The Reality of Product Development

I think all of this is the reality of product development in general, but it is especially true in the world of SEO. There is a lot of misinformation and a lot of products built around that misinformation. It creates a sort of vortex of bad ideas that are hard to escape.

When user discovers your product in search of a solution to a problem, they come with preconceived notions of what they think they need. They think they need to "spin" articles, of they think they need to publish 1,000 articles, or they think they need to meet certain word count, or they think they need to "keyword stuff" their articles. These are all bad ideas, but they are ideas that are perpetuated by the SEO gurus.

I think the best way to escape this vortex is to build a product that outperforms the competition. However, this is not easy. It means accepting that users will not convert if they are looking for a specific feature that you do not have. It means accepting that you will not grow as fast as you could. This is the approach that I am taking with AIMD. I am not building a product that is designed to meet the needs of the SEO gurus. I am building a product that is designed to create helpful content.