An Unbiased Observation Of Responders To Derek Halpern’s “No Search Form” Post on Social Triggers

I’ve been dying to write about this for the last 24 hours. I’m going for it.

Derek Halpern of SocialTriggers.com has released an article that has the blogosphere going nuts. You’ve either commented on the post, read it and formulated your own opinion, or you’re about  to read it now.

I read it yesterday when it was first published and I didn’t realize how big of a deal it would be.

I was one of the first 15 people or so to leave a comment and it now has 130 comments and counting only a day later.

What’s This Post About?

To make a long story short, Derek feels that having a search form on your blog is unnecessary. I completely disagree.

One of his arguments is that most search forms don’t provide great results and actually dish out a disheartening user experience when no accurate results are found after using the form.

He also says that most of your visitors don’t use the form to begin with.

Whether or not you agree with Derek isn’t really the point of my post, though. Instead, I want to talk about a trend that I noticed in his comments and I have been seeing on some of the big blogs lately.

What Do You Really Believe? Really? Do you know?

I am so sick of people blindly following anyone or anything without having their own two feet to stand on.

I definitely think that Derek is a smart guy. He is one of the few bloggers that I follow in multiple places and I always read his content regardless of snappy headlines or eye-catching images.

But that doesn’t mean I don’t have a certain belief system of my own.

I have a lot to learn about the business of blogging. So, it’s expected that Derek has a lot of things to teach me. He likes to challenge commonly accepted beliefs.

That is so refreshing in a blogosphere of cookie-cutter bloggers. But that doesn’t always mean his opinion is more accurate than the general consensus.

Anyway, let me get to the point.

Don’t agree with somebody just because you look up to them!

As soon as the post was published, reader after reader talked about how much they agreed. But do they understand what they were agreeing with?

To have a valid argument, you need premises that definitely lead to a conclusion. By now, I’m sure we all know that.

Well, Derek had some awesome premises… but the conclusion was still a matter of opinion, not a definite result of the premises.

But because people agreed with the premises, they automatically adopted his conclusion.

Hell, some of them didn’t even give any supporting reasons why they agreed. They just rephrased what he said and threw in an “I agree, Derek! :)” here and an “I’ve been thinking the same thing” there.

Come on, man!

Here’s my comment where I gave my real opinion on  the matter.

Very interesting.

I run two new blogs and I actually don’t want search forms on either of them. I felt they were unnecessary based on my content. I just thought I would be a fool to remove them. I figured it would piss my visitors off. I didn’t put very much thought into it, though.

I do think it depends on how popular your site is, though. Sure, you may not have 100 articles but a site like this one sticks with people. So readers will oftentimes come back to reference an article that you’ve written and have the hardest time finding it.

So, yea, I think there has to be a balance between how many articles you have AND how popular your site is. Honestly, it seems like this site should have a search form considering you write some really sticky content that people will almost always come back to reference.

Sites with small archives and not a lot of traffic like mine may not need the search form, though.

Just my thoughts!

Is that really so hard to do? As you can see, I couldn’t deny some of the points he made but I still felt like the conclusion needed a little work.

That’s not being disrespectful or a bad follower. That’s providing feedback!

Do you think bloggers write articles just to have you come behind them and tell them how much you love them? Do you think people write just to have you rephrase what they said in your comment?

Hell no!

If you agree with what Derek said, that’s perfectly fine. But don’t agree just for the hell of it. Or, how about this…

Don’t agree just to hurry up and get your response submitted at the top of his comments list. (Yea… I see you)

Here’s one of the first people to disagree. Her name is Jeanne Pi from AppsBlogger.com and she just happened to comment right before me.

Hi Derek,

I’m a big fan, but I’m gonna have to disagree with you on this one.

For a new blog with few posts, visitors will most likely not find what they’re looking for, period. With or without a search box.

Yes, having a search return zero results might make them feel “terrible”, but it’s just as frustrating looking through the blog manually and not finding what you’re looking for.

At least with a search box (with Google Analytics installed), you can track what visitors are searching for and cater to those searches.

Having a search box is the perfect way to get inside the mind of your readers. For bloggers having trouble coming up with a topic for their next post, knowing what visitors search for can give them that next idea. For bloggers having too many topics they want to write about, but not sure where to start, search results can help them narrow it down.

And for ecommerce websites, searches can tell the owners what the popular products are and if they should carry something that they don’t currently have in the inventory.

Really, is it that hard to disagree with someone you are a fan of? Of course not. Jeanne showed us that.

Here’s another person (Taylor… no link) who admitting taking his thoughts into consideration, but still had a mind of their own.

This gave me something to think about, but one question.

Wouldn’t the same people who would not find what they want via search still feel horrible if you do not have a search bar?

I think not having one could also lead to frustration.

Listen…

There’s no way I can ever know for sure who really agreed and who disagreed.

I just have the gut feeling that many people are being “fan boys/girls” just to suck up to someone they look up to.

Derek is a grown man. He can handle a disagreement. In fact, I expressed the fact that I disagreed on his Facebook status about the blog post and he expressed that he could also understand my point of view.

That’s what you were scared of, oh-so-loyal follower?

Derek is an outstanding leader in the blogging community. Do him a favor and GIVE BACK if you appreciate his work.

You give back by keeping it real and providing quality feedback. Nobody likes a “yes man” and some of you are looking like one right now.

Disclaimer

  • I think Derek is great and I am a big fan. This post is not intended to be disrespectful toward him.
  • Of course, I can’t know for sure that the people who agreed with him were just blowing smoke.
  • I am not speaking to anyone specifically from the comments of that post.
  • This post is a result of my own gut feelings… not facts.
10 Comments:
  1. Hi Sean, this is my first time here (Derek Halpern sent me) I completely agree with everything you say and you point to very solid examples of people respectfully disagreeing.

    I’m of the opinion that respectful disagreements and dialogues is what makes the internet strong. It’s what makes it… well… social.

    Our ability to form and receive differing opinions is what makes us better thinkers, better people, more productive, more valuable members in the societies we operate in.

    Thank you so much for this post.

    • Thanks a lot for reading.

      Like I said in the article, I can never be 100% sure that the people who agreed weren’t being honest. I am just really surprised to see people agree with something to major (I do believe it’s a major discussion) without even giving any quality feedback. I mean, it’s not a small matter.

      Derek is smart and he knows what’s best for his blog. People need to think about their own blog too, though. That’s what I think I a lot of people left out before leaving a comment.

      Some blogs need search… as stated by many once the post started to circulate a bit.

      Thanks a lot for stopping by! 

  2. I’m with you as well.  Search isn’t keeping people from doing the things you want them to do.  It’s there to help and I’ve used it on other sites as well.

    I’m kind of turned off from Social Triggers since several of his posts are more sensational than studied.  It’s a bit more radical on points that could actually cause more harm than good.

    You’re not the only one who has disagreed.  Marcus Sheridan did the same on his site a few months back.

    Glad you think for yourself as well, even when the blogger has a strong reputation.

    • Yea… I had to think for a second before I chose to publish this post. But it didn’t take me long to remember that I am the only one that can make it or break it for me as a blogger.

      I didn’t know that Marcus Sheridan disagreed with something in the past. I’ll have to look that up. I actually just came across his Sales Lion site last night and was thoroughly impressed with his articles and videos. I also just started to follow him. So I’ll be sure to head on over and see what he has to say.

      The one thing I do know is that Derek is not stupid. He knows exactly what he’s doing. I actually applaud his marketing skills. I just hate to see people run and take the search form off of their blogs. It’s not for everyone. 

      People, for some reason, think all blogs are created equal. 

      • If you read Marcus Sheridan’s post from when he disagreed, you’ll notice that he has since implemented most of my conversion advice :-). 

        He came around, it seems, and guess what… I bet he’s getting a ton of results because of it.Here’s the original article where he disagreed.http://www.thesaleslion.com/derek-halpren-wrong-debate-web-sidebar-design-conversions/And now, if you look at his site, he’s using many of the tactics that he thought wasn’t for him.(Full disclosure: Marcus Sheridan is actually a friend of mine. I’m not knocking him, as he I believe he’s one of the true content marketers out there who’s doing a great job with what he does).

        • I just read the article.

          Marcus seems to be saying the same thing that I am saying lol. It just depends on your site. I actually remember that post he referenced. When I read it, I ran straight back to this very blog and emptied my sidebar.

          In fact, about a week ago I referenced another post of yours on Google+ that also mentioned keeping the sidebars clean. Here’s the lifeless thread:
          https://plus.google.com/106455657709644120192/posts/bk8DhdxdmQW

          But yea… I really think a lot of your suggestions just depend on the blog itself. Because of your solid advice, my sidebar is pretty slim. I removed another two items earlier today. But it fits my blog. 

          And I presume the search form advice fits some blogs, as well. Not everyone’s, though. Even if they only have a few posts. Some just need to have a search, I think.

    • More sensational than studied?

      There’s a lot of things you could say about what I do, but that’s not one of them. Everything I do is based off of personal experience, data, and research experiments. 

      Many people don’t know this but, for example, one of my blogs pulled in more than 30 million hits in a single year. And do you know how much people used search there? Almost none. 

      In another example, another one of my highly popular sites also had search. This was a different type of website. The large site was a news based site, and this other site was a teaching based site. Do you know how many people used search there? Again, almost none.

      As a matter of fact, you’ll find that most people don’t use search on blogs. Yes, one or two people may, and they may be vocal about it, but there’s no point in dedicating screen real estate to satisfy the 0.001% of your traffic. You’re better off using that real estate for something else.

      Let’s talk about how people find blogs for a second. They often stumble on a new blog from a link from social media, links from other sites, or search engines.

      That means they hit your content pages first. 

      And when they hit your content page, if that content doesn’t satisfy what they’re looking for, you can bet that they’re not going to search your site for it. They’re going to slam that back button, and either go back to Google to search for something else, or back to social media and click on another link.

      Do you know how you prevent that from happening, though?

      Using all of your screen real estate to show off what you might offer them. A search bar doesn’t do that. Links to resource pages, topical navigation, and some other navigation strategies do.

      But now let’s talk about your loyal visitors for a second. What about them?

      They may use search, but you’ll find that many of them just google what they want and attach your website domain to it. For example, “Size 14 is the new size 12 social triggers,” a search term that regularly hits my site. Or as another example, “Feature Box Derek Halpern.”

      Are there some people that I may be missing out on this?

      Probably.

      But again, it’s about focusing on what gets you results. You can’t make everyone happy. And I stand by my original comment. 

      If you have less than 100-150 articles on your blog, a search bar is pointless.

      • Like stated in my post, Derek, you’r premises are solid. Nobody can deny those. But your conclusion fits YOUR blog… not everyone else’s. 

        The only reason why I find it necessary to point that out is because people listen to you lol. One guy in your comments said that he ran to his blog and snatched the search right off. I just think people need to evaluate their specific situation first before choosing your path.

        There are guys who have completely neglected the idea that site real estate is important. They have banners left and right. All kinds of crazy flying images everywhere. And now, they don’t have a search feature for reasons that aren’t reflected in the rest of their blog design.

        I just think it’s outstanding advice for someone who…

        1. Is very into space-saving on their blog
        2. Has less than 150 posts, as you stated
        3. Has outstanding alternatives to using search
        4. Has the kind of content that doesn’t need search

        and I’m sure there are more “requirements.”

        I like that you are not backing down. You shouldn’t, of course. But I will never forget the day I went to your site and scrolled from header to footer like 2 or three times looking for the search bar to find the post on debunking the content is kind post. I was like “What in the woooorld?” 

        Not to be a wise guy, but it was really disheartening lol. Thank God for Google!

      • Hehe, sorry to upset you Derek.  

        I shouldn’t have been so forward.  You certainly are more accomplished than I am at this blogging work and I’m sure you have a number of analytics to support your claims.

        The sensational comment is something that I feel many bloggers and marketing bloggers in particular tend to lean on from time to time.  

        “How can I take something everyone believes in and tell them it’s wrong?  That will get me readers.”  Sure everything can have it’s slant and analytics can be used to prove both scenarios right.

        I’ve agreed with most of the things you share.  I love your ideas about a subscription form at the bottom of each post, limiting sidebars to less junk and signups, and your psychology background in general. 

        However, and I’m sure you agree, just because one thing worked on your blog doesn’t mean it will always be best for others. 

        My point was made in response to Sean’s previous posts about bloggers relying sometimes too much on what they read on other popular blogs and not enough on their own experience.

        I think there are many positive points to learn from as you read other blogs, but it’s just as important to read it with a balanced perspective.

        Hope it’s all good.  I respect you as a blogger and as someone who is a pro at this.  Your a guy I’d love to be connected to.  Sorry I started on such a bad foot.

        Bryce

        • Oh, I’m not upset.

          Was just correcting an error :-).

          You are right, though. 

          What works for one person, may not work for other people.

          But I can tell you this:

          After running blogs in entertainment, fashion, makeup, marketing, software, gaming, and more, I’ve yet to see search play a vital role in navigation.

          Search does have its place, and one great example would be a review site that’s known for high quality reviews. A site that people go to with the expectation of searching out a specific product with hopes of finding a great review. On a site like that, search would be major. 

          But let’s agree to disagree. 

          On the traffic note… some bloggers may do something a long those lines to pull in traffic, but that’s not me. 

          Social Triggers is the first major site I attached my name to. I’m not about to run my name through the mud for a few extra hits.

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