Most websites get most of their traffic from search engines. Getting ranked well on these sites is critical to your success. But how far should you go? If you target your site just at search engines their is a danger your readers will think your site is rubbish.
Check out the famous Blogercise 10 step guide on getting started with SEO techniques.
This post is part of our series on 29 debates bloggers have about blogging.
Google Can Make or Break Your Site
Let’s be blunt: Google has significant power over the Internet, more so in the UK where their market share of search queries is thought to be around 80%. This means that the vast majority of visitors to your site will start their browsing session on Google and if you want to get them onto your site you need to be up there near the top end of the search results.
This post however is not about how to get your site into the search engines (SEO is covered elsewhere), we’re here to talk about how your attitude so optimising for search engines will affect your site’s development.
People read Your Site, Not the Search Engines
Here at Blogercise we promote the idea of building a high quality site that will continue to bring in readers for many years to come. Sure, getting ranked in Google is very important, but so is building a base of regular readers.
There are many advantages to having a solid foundation of loyal readers:
- Ultimately these readers will go out and promote your site for you by sharing links and recommending you to their friends. This is something that will become more and more significant as social media becomes more and more ingrained in our lives.
- A solid user base means that you have a core of readers who will view your page. These are guaranteed hits from interested and therefore responsive parties – the best kind!
- You can begin to build a community around your site, either through comments on posts or you can go a step further and build a forum.
- Your readers will begin to contribute. My main source of stories for my tech blog is my readers. A number of interested community members look out for scoops that will get my site attention and more back links than I could ever manually create myself.
I have to feel slightly sorry for beginners who spend hours a day scrabbling round for one or two poor quality links into their site that will do little or nothing to help their growth.
If you are going to do link building, it is far better to build a small number of high quality links than to endlessly spam your site around in comments, forums or twitter.
Compare this manual building of low quality links to the alternative. How many links can you build on your own? Perhaps in a good spam session you can get 10s of links out onto the net, all of them buried away and probably “no follow” links too.
Compare this to doing it naturally, my leading tech blog gains 100s of links a day naturally with no effort on my part. Many appear right on the front pages of leading community blogs gaining me both traffic and long term authority.
You can’t really compare the two techniques.
It can be very tough to get your blog started, but you are far better off networking with established bloggers and working to get one or two high waulity links to kick things off – and to do that you need a quality site. Email them, say “hi”, offer to write for them, anything you can think of to get your link right into the heart of their site.
The Long Term cost of Writing for Search Engines
People who write content just for the search engines are potentially seriously damaging the future potential of their site. What might appear to be a winning strategy today might fall flat on its face tomorrow.
Remember the Golden Rule: Google wants to Present the Most Relevant Search Results to their Users
Google, and its competitors, will only get better and better at achieving this goal. So if you create your site around a set of rules, rather than trying to build the best most relevant site, sooner or later those rules will change and your site will drop away.
The end goal for the search engines will be to build a system that can “read” the content of a site just like a human can. You might have heard the term “semantic” web being used on various sites, this refers to search engines improving their understanding of language and what any give site is really about without relying on a set of signals.
Yes, we are a long way off from this but technology is moving fast, just look at how the Internet has changed in the last ten years and you’ll realise that there are massive leaps to be made in the next ten years.
Do you really think Google will look twice at an auto generated keyword stuffed article in the future? No chance.
How to Get the SEO Balance Right
Of course this doesn’t mean we shouldn’t pay attention to the SEO basics and the good news is that search engine optimisation becomes second nature once you get into the Blogercise routine. Make sure that you use headers, titles, meta data to accurately represent what your pages are about and then just right naturally for your users.
Aim for any given article to address a particular subject or issue and you’ll find that Google will know where to place it in its all knowing index.
Both now, and in the future!