Welcome to part 2 of my Death Of Blogging Series. Check out part 1 for the full intro and explanation of what this series is all about.
Search Engine Optimization (SEO)
In part 1, I talked about the effect that internet marketing and affiliate marketing has had on blogging. Part two is all about how SEO has impacted bloggers. I know what you’re thinking, SEO helps bring in traffic, HOW CAN IT HURT BLOGGING!?!? I definitely agree that SEO is very important for blogging and helping to bring in traffic. However, the downside that I have noticed is that bloggers have shifted away from focusing on providing high quality content that is actually readable and enjoyable. Instead, they’re focusing more on trying to rank highly in search engines for keywords and phrases. The end result is articles that have keywords clearly just forced into the writing, and less of a focus on just providing posts that people want to read.
Goodbye Catchy Headlines
One of the first places I see SEO hurting blogging is in the title of posts or headlines. A while ago, people put effort into coming up with witty headlines and titles for their blog posts that were creative, intriguing, and compelled you to actually want to read the entire post. Fast forward to today, and bloggers are just trying to figure out how many keywords they can fit into their titles without it sounding too weird.
Instead of something different like “Why I’ll Never Eat Canned Pineapples Again”, we’re getting “10 Pineapple Recipes”. Where’s the thought and creativity? There’s a certain level of personality that’s lacking in the second title. It’s straight to the point and clearly just a title thrown together to rank for a phrase.
I think part of the problem is that we don’t spend nearly enough time on coming up with headlines as we should. Like I said earlier, it’s all about fitting in keywords now, rather than creating an actual great headline. I highly recommend reading this post from Copyblogger on Magnetic Headlines. In the post, there are links to other posts on the blog that will really help you start coming up with good headlines and not just some keyword filled nonsense.
Throw Some Keywords In There
I have been asked several times as a freelance writer to just “throw some keywords in there”. This train of thought seems to have really taken over the blogging world and is really hurting the quality of writing for blogs. Some bloggers are no longer writing naturally, and instead they’re writing articles centered around certain keywords. When you do this, you’re forcing it and your writing doesn’t come off as human.
When you write naturally and normal about a topic, words and phrases related to that article should naturally appear throughout the article. But when you start out writing an article with keywords in your mind that you are set on using, it disrupts the entire writing process. You start thinking to yourself, “how can I fit in this phrase?” When you should really be asking yourself, “what other useful information can I include?”
Trying to get keywords into blog posts has also caused some bland, stale, boring posts. Everyone is writing about the exact same topics, aiming for the exact same keywords, and not offering anything new. Writing about topics that have been written about thousands of times already is fine, but the problem is that bloggers aren’t offering anything different to the topic. Since everyone is trying to rank for the same keywords, all of the articles being written sound exactly the same. There’s no personality or creativity.
It Distracts You From Other Aspects of Your Blog
How much time do you spend looking for keywords, thinking of ways to put them in your blog, making sure all of your images are properly optimized, etc? Having an optimized blog is important, and I don’t fault anyone for taking the necessary steps to rank for some keywords. But you don’t want to obsess over it. And that is really the main reason I’ve included SEO in this series.
All too often I see people stress over certain keywords, making sure every single image has keywords in the alt tags, and other SEO friendly things. But they neglect things like coming up with creative and fresh content that readers can’t find anywhere else. They don’t try to brand their blogs. They don’t connect with other bloggers. There are so many other elements that are important to blogging that get overlooked because you’re focused solely on the SEO aspect.
Google Has Caught On
Ever since Google rolled out their Penguin and Panda updates, blogs with poorly written articles have been getting hit, some very hard. Google is on an ongoing crusade to clean up their search engine ranking page to filter out garbage blogs and sites that are just stuffing their sites with keywords and don’t provide quality content. This process is going to take a while and will require a lot of tinkering with their algorithm to get things right, but it’s a great start.
I’ve noticed that sites that are ranking for high volume keywords right now are “authority sites” that have tons of high quality content. The posts themselves aren’t buried in keywords, and they typically only mention keywords when they’re relevant. This is what all bloggers should be aiming for, and it’s also what Google is looking for.
The Wrap Up
The point I’m trying to get across in this part of the series is that don’t let SEO rule your blog. For one, if you’re depending on SEO as a sole source of traffic, you’re going to be severely disappointed when your blog gets outranked. Secondly, you should be writing for humans, not search engines. Humans don’t care if you have a great keyword density, or how many searches your target keywords get a month. They want great content that’s helpful, useful, and entertaining.