I’ve noticed a trend recently. A lot of bloggers have been creating posts that are far more search engine friendly than they are reader friendly.
People vs Computers: Treat Your Readers Like Gold
For those of you that don’t know what search engine optimization is; it’s basically the process of creating a piece of online content with the end goal of having that content rank is high as it possibly can when someone does a related search in google, yahoo, or some other search engine.
I would love to hear what you guys think. Should search engine optimization be disregarded in any case where it would hurt readability and value or is there a fine line?
It’s a great idea in theory because you can get lots of extra readers to your blog, but in reality I don’t think it works very well.
The key thing about search engine optimization is making sure to stuff specific keywords into a blog post. This means that a lot of the time a post may not read as well as it normally would if the author were to write it like they were talking to an actual person.
Sure you’ll get more readers to your blog posts but your posts won’t really be valuable. If someone searches for the term “dog training” they don’t want to read a post that says “dog training” 45 times. They want a relevant piece of information that helps them and is easy to read. As they say “Content is king.”
At the end of the day I’d much rather have a reader base that is one third the size but they value my posts greatly and are chomping at the bit waiting for my next post as opposed to a huge reader base that barely tolerates almost incoherent ramblings I’m throwing at them trying to get as many new users as possible.
The point here is that your readers are an absolute asset to your site. Don’t treat them like cattle. The truth is your blog would be nothing at all without loyal repeat readers.
I was recently watching a video by Alex Jeffreys when he made an analogy that I think is perfect.
Build a Strong Oil Rig
He said blogs are like oil rigs. Oil rigs are held up by giant metal structures. Over time algae begins to crowd around these giant metal support structures. Soon after the algae is eaten by clams and small fish.
These small fish and clams are eaten by larger fish which are then eaten by even larger fish. Soon enough you have an environment around the oil rig teeming with life including giant tuna, sharks, and lots of other nasty things that you wouldn’t want to meet while taking a relaxing dip.
So let’s look at the oil rig’s support system as your blog posts. If the support system is strong it will attract algae. In this analogy we’ll say algae are comments from readers. So after you get some quality comments due to your initial blog posts having good quality content to respond to you’ll start to get some more traffic stopping in and seeing these comments.
This extra traffic can be likened to the bigger fish. Slowly as this process continues you’ll get more traffic and more quality comments.
So if you look at it in the long run you’ll actually have a much longer lasting and more helpful blog if you build the posts from the ground up with your reader’s needs in mind as opposed to your needs of getting lots of traffic.
W.I.I.F.M the most important question a blogger can ever remember. What’s In It For Me?! Every single reader to your website will be asking themselves this question. If it turns out what they get from the post is not worth the effort and time it takes to read it then you’ve lost that reader forever.
The point is this. While other blog creators may be looking to get as many eyes on their blog as possible that isn’t my plan. Instead I’m looking to create a system where my site is a bit more buried but I’m hoping my readers can see it as a buried treasure.