New York Times bestselling author, slow cooking expert and mommy blogger next door
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Totally Together

Writing for Search Engines Doesn’t Mean Selling Your Soul

June 29, 2009 by  


Part 3 of  The Business of Blogging series

read Part 1: My Story

Part 2: Figuring Out Your Internet Voice

Selling My Soul? Huh?

I’ve read quite a few blog posts written by personal bloggers who lament the fact that “no one” reads their blog (which always sounds kind of odd to me. I’m here! I’m reading! Who do you want? The king of Norway?) but the blogger isn’t going to change her style, her voice, or write for search engines. No way, no how.

And that’s okay. It’s absolutely and perfectly okay to not know or care anything about how search engines work and just write because you want to write. If you’re lucky, your writing will attract a few prominent links by established websites or on some popular message boards, and you will gain some traffic.

But. Sometimes that just doesn’t happen, no matter how good your writing is. And if lookie-loos come to your site, you’ve got to find a way to keep them coming.

It’s also perfectly okay to not desire any additional traffic. You write for you. You write for your family. That’s great—but it means you can’t complain about it!

But sometimes you want more. You want people to come even if you aren’t writing any more. You want them to come even if you aren’t the funniest, the most creative, or controversial. And that’s where search engines come in to play.

Why Do I Care About Search Engines?

You care because once you’ve spent your time writing something, you can move on. Your article lives on, and you can wander off to other things because you’ve already done the work. Searchers can find your article without any additional work on your part. I wrote The Daily 7 for a Highly Successful Household months ago, but I still get traffic from that article, without having to do anything. Searches come in for “daily chore list” and the like even though I haven’t opened that article in months. On the slow cooker site, most of my daily traffic comes from recipe searches. Although I worked awfully hard last year to make the food, the recipes live on and generate traffic without any effort on my part.

How Do I Do It?

Once you’ve figured out what your blog is about, the writing will come organically. Tightly-focused blogs will generate traffic, because you are giving searchers an answer to their question. Let’s say you’re going to write a blog about keeping a two-year-old busy. Your writing will naturally use the key words google (or other search engine) users will use when trying to find information.

Keep Your Two-Year-Old Busy with A Trip To the Zoo

Keep Your Two-Year-Old Busy by Making Paper Dolls

Keep Your Two-Year-Old Busy by Creating an Art Box

While writing the articles, keep in mind that not everyone who types in a query about 2 year olds will type it the same way. They may use the number 2. They may spell the word out. They may use hyphens, and they may not. You may choose to mix it up in your article, or you may choose to spell only one way—to make sure the searchers spelling it the way you’ve chosen end up on your site.

Try to think like a google searcher when you’re naming your articles.  If you have figured out the secret to making a perfect gluten free pizza crust that has a nice crunch and doesn’t leave a weird aftertaste, share it with the world (and with me!), but just make sure you name your article properly.  Don’t name it “look what I made!”—name it “The World’s Easiest and Best Gluten Free Pizza Crust.” And then make sure that your article has the key words in there somewhere.

Tags Aren’t Just for Organization

Tagging your posts with key words is important for your own readers to help navigate your site, but it is also important for search engines who use computer spiders to crawl your site and for other social networking bookmarking sites such as delicious and technorati. Delicious is a bookmarking site that allows users to share their bookmarked sites with others. If you have tagged your posts/articles, chances are good that delicious users will use the same tags when saving your work. This helps others find you quickly and easily.

If you haven’t done so already, claim your blog on technorati, by signing up (it’s free) and claiming your personal blog. This will help you find other blogs in your category, and it will also let you know who has linked to your site (so you can thank them. Thank yous are important).

Be Helpful

The best advice I can give you about writing for search engines is to be helpful. Write what you want to read about. What do you search for on a regular basis? If you’re searching for something, chances are someone else is, too.

Part 4: Is Self-Esteem Tied to SiteMeter?


This is part of the Business of Blogging series.

Part 1: The Business of Blogging

Part 2: Figuring Out Your Internet Voice

Part 3: Writing for Search Engines Doesn’t Mean Selling Your Soul

Part 4: Is Self-Esteem Tied into Sitemeter?

Part 5: Patience, and Other Blogging Virtues

and other stuff:

10 Best Business-y Books

Creating a (non-cheesy) Vision Board

Working from Home with Small Children in the House

Post a comment · 10 Comments »


10 Responses to “Writing for Search Engines Doesn’t Mean Selling Your Soul”

  1. gfe--gluten free easily on June 29th, 2009 5:54 pm

    Wow, Stephanie–thanks!!! I just claimed my blog on technorati. I had no idea I should do that, and I’ll be sharing that info with other blogging friends. I have picked up on some of the things I should write on from the keywords that turn up in Analytics. Of course, from that, I’m seeing the people who found my blog, I’m not seeing who searched on tons of other stuff I could have written about, but didn’t.

    I’ve read the Steve Pavlina post, but will read it again and definitely will check out the other links.

    BTW, I’ve got a flourless pizza that I’ve promised to put up on my blog soon–probably once we get back from 4th of July. It will be another cause for celebration because you will not believe how good it is. And, it takes normal, every day ingredients! It gets rave reviews from my 21-year old son–that’s a pretty good endorsement, huh? But, you can’t make it in a crockpot … well, I haven’t, but knowing you, you could!!

    Thank you so very much for this article. It’s one thing to read about search engine optimization in the abstract, but you gave some very concrete examples that were really helpful.

    Have a great week and wonderful 4th!! Saw your announcement on your crockpotting blog, so I’m headed there now to comment on that! :-)


  2. Nowheymama on June 29th, 2009 6:07 pm

    I so thought the “her voice” link was going to link to some really opinionated blogger! Hee.

  3. Sandy Cooper on June 29th, 2009 9:12 pm

    I love this series. When I started my blog last year, I did a lot of research on blog traffic. I don’t get a million hits…yet…but I’ve done a lot of things you’ve suggested, and it’s true. I can’t believe how many people find my posts through search engines now. It’s very cool. Slowly, but surely, I’m building my readership.


  4. Leann I Am on July 3rd, 2009 12:34 pm

    This is awesome advice! I stumbled upon some of this knowledge on accident by giving blogs titles that were quirky movie lines or something. I have people from all over the world come to read my blog, “She rubs the lotion on her skin or else she gets the hose again.”

    I always forget to tag my posts, but I need to.

    Thanks for this! And enjoy your 4th!

  5. Bonny on July 6th, 2009 8:27 am

    This has been a really great series – thanks for posting it!

  6. Jenny on July 6th, 2009 9:12 pm

    I have heard of technorati before but didn’t bother checking it out until I read this post. I claimed my blog on there. I also have the ClusterMaps ap that shows me geographically where people are from. I can’t believe my little blog has had visitors from China, Russia, India and lots of other places! But I can’t figure out where to find the info on who has linked to my site… ??? Maybe I’m not all the way done with the claim thing yet (though I posted that code thingy and it found it)

  7. Jamie on January 7th, 2010 2:48 am

    I have just started a blog and am so glad you are sharing this information!!!

    My husband is helping me but I have felt really confused about blogging. You mention engaging in a community-my blog is about pilates and very few fun, informative blogs about pilates exist. SO, I am not sure how to deal with that. To be honest, your crockpot blog and the automatic earth are the only blogs I read regularly….Do you have any suggestions?

    The whole “writing for engines” was really mysterious to me-I am not opposed to it-just have no understanding of it so I thank you so much for this series!!!

    Please if you feel up to it, continue this series. I am using your blogs as a model for my own (even though the topics are not the same!).

    peace in the New Year!

  8. Bernie on July 31st, 2011 7:05 am

    I just discovered your blog and immediately subscribed. I was interested in slow cooker recipes, as I have one but only use it for potlucks and school fundraisers. Scrolling around your articles I was delighted to find your posts on blogging in general. I’ve been blogging for over a year but have not paid attention to search engines and optimizing them. Thank you so much for sharing information on delicious and technorati. You’ve been most helpful and kind to share this info.

  9. Brianne on December 10th, 2011 12:21 pm

    Thank you, THANK YOU! Your story is inspiring (congrats on your success!), your recipes rock, and your tips about the “bidness of blogging” are very helpful — you’ve got a new fan.

  10. Karen Smith on July 3rd, 2014 6:01 am

    Love your blog, I love to cook in slow cooker, so I found your recipes very helpful!! I would like to blog but don’t know how to start. I can write, I have written some articles for publication, but I don’t know how or where to write to get my mumblings out into the internet to be read. I am a 67 year old mother, grandmother, and great grandmother. I also have some health problems. I could blog about most or all of these. But I am mainly interested in being a nurturing grandmother.
    I first need to know where to type my blog. I can use my computer but don’t really understand how to get things out there where others can find it. I just need some starting help, please!!

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