Stop Writing for Search Engines

ReadersMy WordPress template is optimized for Search Engines. I carefully structured my template having learned quite a few tips from quite a few people. Everything from page titles to tags have been tweaked to squeeze as much as I can out of it.

Optimizing my blog template works – virtually 50% of my visitors come by way of Search Engines, primarily Google. Although my blog is optimized for Search Engines, SEO experts will note that my posts are not.

I don’t repeat my headline in my first few sentences. I don’t use a ton of links in my posts. I don’t often link to my own posts unless it’s truly relative. Having read a ton of SEO articles, I could write a checklist of items that I should do with each post.

I won’t do it because I’m not writing for Search Engines, I’m writing for readers. It simply seems insincere to change the style of my dialog so that some software application on some web crawler can pull my information and index my articles for keyword searches. I don’t care if the search engine can find me easier… I care that the reader enjoys my blog posts.

Since I’ve been reading those articles for a while, I can really notice when other bloggers are doing it. Just a word of warning to those bloggers – I skip reading a lot of your posts because of it. On occasion, I even stop subscribing.

Another way to tell these bloggers are by their commentors… you tend to see different commentors each week you go to their blog. No conversations… just a comment here and there and the readers never return. I really enjoy seeing the same folks back at my blog over and over. I’ve grown to become friends with many of my visitors – even though I’ve never personally met them.

Those of you with direct marketing backgrounds know that research on any medium tells you that it’s more difficult to obtain new readers than to keep existing ones. It’s a self-defeating strategy when you write to build Search Engine placement but your readers don’t enjoy or stick with your blog. You have to keep optimizing and keep tweaking to gain more hits from Search Engines.

Don’t write for Search Engines. Write for your readers.


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    I don?t often link to my own posts unless it?s truly relative.

    I almost never link to my own posts. That’s because most of the time, my posts don’t seem to follow each other. They are usually just on the topic of the moment, not having any connection (or little, if any) to previous posts.

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    I started a blog and thought I was going to do that very thing, write to get page ranks and such, then when I started writing, it felt like it wasn’t me…Because it wasn’t! I then said if I was gonna do it it was gonna be on my terms and no others. I have only been blogging for a month and I like the fact that I am building relationships and not links!

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      Thanks, Latimer! I was just over at your blog (I think we have a friend in common – JD from Black In Business. Your blog is written very thoughtfully… you touch on a number of really explosive topics, but you respectfully provide your side of the argument and leave the topic open for discussion.

      I read a lot of articles on the blogosphere about what you should be doing… and I frankly think most of it is B.S. It’s a lot like telling someone how they should have a conversation with a stranger.

      Thanks for stopping by and commenting!

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    I just wanted to let you know I really enjoyed what you said in this post. I just started my blog a little over a month ago and I’m steady learning how to do this thing, so your advice really helps because it rings true. Even though I’ve barely been at this a minute, I’ve had to fight the temptation to do ANYthing to bump up the count. It’s like a crack addiction or something, you know? MORE readers, I simply must have MORE READERS.

    But now I read your post and it all comes back to me, like that small voice held captive in the back of my mind. The one punished for making sense. “Speak what you know, say it like you say it, and they will come.”

    With apologies, of course, to “Field of Dreams”.

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    Thanks, Keith. I think everyone (even outside of blogging) seeks recognition. I also find myself writing sometimes wondering how it will affect my SEO, links, diggs, etc. One of the reasons that I wrote this post was to keep myself in line as well!

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    Good post. I try not to write for search engines, but I do have to admit I think about it. In some of the titles of my posts (if it’s related to a major event), I word is so it can be picked up by the search engines. I don’t do this so I can have a high number of visitors to the site (I have other ways of feeding my ego). I do it because I want people to read what I have to say. Hopefully they will come back and participate in the discussion. Blogging is fun. I get to meet some great people and learn a lot in the process.

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      Any chance that I can challenge you to provide such a demonstration? I don’t doubt that it isn’t possible – I think there are probably ways of doing both. However, I can’t identify any examples. (Perhaps that’s because the author did such a good job of utilizing both techniques.)

      I would love to see a random post that is written well and compare it to a post that is written well AND utilizes techniques for Search Engines.


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    Hey Doug –

    At the risk of sounding totally self-congratulatory, here’s a piece I created that is getting good search-engine traffic and one that my regular readers also enjoyed:

    No-Complaining Bracelet Rules: Are you sticking to them?

    I have a few like that — to God alone be the glory!

    Though I admit I do know what you mean — sometimes I skew more in favor of SEO than my regular readers, but I’m glad my regular readers still keep coming back because they like me.

    It’s like I am with Ilker Yoldas’ I just keep reading it because I like him, so he could write SEO and I’d still be there as his regular reader!

    Take care and thanks for responding,

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      Thanks, Paula. Hopefully, you take this the right way – but I think you helped to actually support my premise. Your mention of “no-complaining bracelet” several times in the first few passages just doesn’t ring true – it reads like SEO was the priority rather than like you were talking to me.

      The post is a great one, please don’t take me the wrong way. But in 5 years when search engines can disseminate topical data without the need to write for them – would this be a natural means of writing a post?

      Ironically, I went to this post on the Thinking Blog and the first paragraph has 21 gratuitous links in it for deep linking to his blog. Those links are purely for search engines, not for you and me.

      With all due respect!

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    No offense taken; thanks for reading my post.

    And yes, of course I wouldn’t repeat and bold important SEO phrases if I didn’t want people to find them.

    Alas, such is the life of an SEO’er…

    I do wonder how the whole SEO-Google game will change in the future.

    It should be a fascinating ride…

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    Just read this post and how timely. I left a meeting last week in which a colleague replied to an insinuation that our websites are not reader friendly by stating “these pages aren’t for the readers. These pages are for the search engines”. Made me scratch my head that we had gotten so far down the path of optimization that someone actually PREFERS that the pages not be read by humans. Blows my mind. Optimize as much as you can while creating informative content seems to be a foreign idea. Needless to say, I sent this post on to a few people in my company.

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