Every once in a while, a friend, colleague, or client will ask how to improve their blog so they can get more traffic. Before we ever dive into the technology behind their blog, I like to explore their content and their attitude toward the search engines. Sometimes, when I ask whether they are consistently analyzing their previously published content and re-shaping their future content, I get a response like “well…I’m making sure that my titles and content are stuffed full of keywords.”
Unfortunately, over the last few years there has been a LOT of focus on search engine optimization, almost to the point that people believe they should write their content and then re-write their content with an SEO lens to ensure that the search engines will index the article. The problem is, what if the search engine spiders like your content, but your readers don’t? What did you accomplish? You got your article listed in the search engines and you probably got some traffic, but your readers probably won’t come back.
Houston. We have a problem.
Think about it. Would you rather have 100 new readers of an article who won’t ever come back and won’t recommend your blog or 25 return readers who consistently return and spread the news about your content to their social networks. I’ll take the latter any day of the week.
Don’t get me wrong, I think that SEO is an important part of creating and maintaining any blog, but I don’t think that the SEO focus should outweigh the value of your content. Your return visitors will keep coming back to your future articles because they like the way you write, they like the way you think, and they like the way you express yourself. If you let the Googlebot corrupt your writing style, then what’s the point? It’s not your blog anymore, it’s some hybrid or you and Googlebot.
In fact, with Google made big changes with their Panda release to penalize duplicate content, link-farms, and robo-bloggers. The whole Panda algorithm starts with human reviewers and the technology learns from those reviewers to identify and penalize non-human content. Because Google is obviously trying to reward those that write with a human-focused tone, you should think seriously about whether you should corrupt your human content to be more “search engine friendly”. Instead, keep on writing for your readers and start analyzing whether the content is interesting and valuable to your readers.
Have a comment or differing opinion? I’m open to any constructive comments/feedback.