On the one hand you have the SEO guys telling you if you don’t pay attention to the search engines you don’t have a snowball’s chance in … well, you know. On the other hand, you have the holier-than-thou bloggers telling you to write for your readers and forget about Google. Who’s right and who’s wrong? And a better question might be – Who’s making the money? Should bloggers write for humans or computers? You be the judge.
The Scales Can Shift
For some blogs search engine optimization is more important than it is for others. For example, here at Dukeo I focus on providing information for people who want to “Learn how to Generate Traffic, Convert Leads and Make Money Online.” I want to answer questions here, and people with questions usually ask them using the search engines, so it’s important for me to pay attention to SEO and keywords.
On the other hand, some blogs are more of a community where they don’t always answer questions. Sometimes the blogger just throws an idea out there and everybody discusses it in the comments. This type of blog wants to be known as more of a discussion forum and relies more on community members sharing the content. Consequently, it’s not important to focus on SEO and keywords. In fact, they may even be a distraction.
Why You Need To Write For Both
I think we can both agree that repeat traffic is the best. Those are the people who routinely share your content and bring in new readers, and they’re also the people who will eventually turn into buyers.
We can also agree that the best way to get repeat traffic is to write content that engages the reader and makes them want to come back and to share.
But it’s important to understand that every repeat visitor was once a first time visitor, someone who came to your blog via the search engines. They’ve gone to their search engine with a question and clicked on a link that brought them to your blog. If you didn’t focus on SEO they’d never find you in the index.
Focus On Both – And Neither
Personally, I believe you can focus on both too much. You’ve probably read your share of blogs that sound like they’re written by robots. They’re stuffed with keywords to the point where they sound ridiculous and you end up leaving the page because it’s just so horrible.
Then there are the bloggers who focus completely on “writing for the reader” and you wonder how anyone ever finds their blog. There’s not a keyword to be seen and the title screams “Cutesy!”
These days the search engines are a lot more sophisticated, but they’re still not human. They can recognize synonyms and define some words by the surrounding content, so it’s not necessary to focus on keyword density like it was in the past.
Because repeat traffic and first time visitors are both essential for any blog, it’s important to provide a path that pulls them both to your blog. Don’t ignore either humans or computers but gently tilt the scales toward the one that brings in the type of traffic you’re looking for.