I recently spoke at a writer’s conference and heard a fellow speaker recommend the following advice: Never write for search engines. Write for your readers.
While he’s right, he’s right to a point.
If you put all your energy into writing for Google, then obviously, you are ignoring your readers, but what does that mean?
Writing for SEO only is a simplified way of saying, “Let’s game Google.” Clearly, playing the Google Game won’t work if you put all your focus on interpreting what Google wants and then serving only that. It’s like asking for carrot cake and getting serviced a bowl of carrots and each ingredient in the carrot cake separately. Google wants carrots, give them carrots. Google wants sugar, so get the sugar out. Google wants flour, so where’s did I put it…ah, here it is. Two cups, right? Water? Spices? What else does Google need to make the cake?
Google ain’t the only game in town. We know that, though many are still staking their business and reputations on the old Google Game thinking. You have to mix things up in order to cover the more important part of building traffic and encouraging readers to return – and bring their friends with them.
You have to write for your audience. You have to write to, for, and with your readers. It is the power they hold over you to link to you and spread the word about your site that makes or breaks your blog.
Visitors come from three sources:
- Search Engines
- Word of Mouth
If you wrote for search engines only, then you would only be paying attention to one out of three.
The same ratio applies if you wrote only for links, which many do. I call it Link Greed. It’s about writing to generate links. Link to ME! Link to me from social bookmarking sites, from social networking sites, from Twitter, from everywhere. I WANT LINKS! GIVE ME LINKS!
If that is where you put your content energy, you’re still serving up the ingredients one at a time.
Word of Mouth is the most powerful form of marketing, even more powerful now than ever in history. We have the capacity to reach thousands of people within seconds. If our message is clear and viral, worth spreading around, those thousands tell their friends and their friends tell their friends, and they all descend upon your blog.
Which of the three is the most powerful and useful?
Well, if you write only for search engines, you skip links and word of mouth. Bad form. If you write only for links, then people tend to see through you right away. They can spot insincerity instantly.
If you write for word of mouth, links will happen naturally, and search engines thrive on trusted incoming links, so you will be found and indexed by search engines organically.
My fellow event speaker was right. You must write for your readers, but you must also take the extra step to make what you write linkable, search engine friendly, and most of all, worth sharing with friends.