Writing for Search Engines Doesn’t Mean Selling Your Soul
June 29, 2009 by Stephanie O'Dea
Part 3 of The Business of Blogging series
read Part 1: My Story
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).
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.
This is part of the Business of Blogging series.
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