If you are a blogger, chances are SEO has a powerful influence over your writing. In fact, SEO is so ubiquitous in the web these days, most blog articles are all starting to look alike. In this article, I want to encourage you to forget SEO and, instead, focus on writing awesome content only you can write.
Articles for $1… Is Writing Dead?
I was spammed via my website’s contact form by the guys of The Article Factory some days ago. Basically, they offer to deliver you articles for just $1. Usually within 24h.
Just one buck! I can fill my blog with content for just $20. That’s a no-brainer, right?
Even if you have just started blogging and might be tempted to spend $20 on getting filler content for your website, it’s not a good idea.
Well, to begin with, think about why they can offer you articles about every general topic or keyword in less than 24h. Imagine that you run that business.
How would you achieve that? Obviously, they are using some kind of algorithm to scrape content from other blogs, do some smart synonyms/sentence replacement, and shuffle paragraphs to make it look legit.
Thus, those “articles” are made of patches from other blogs. Trust me, there’s no way you are going to rank higher on competitive keywords using a refurbished Frankenstein post.
But even if there are real writers behind them…
Have a look at one of their example articles. Read it beginning to end. What are your feelings about it? Did it inspire you? Did something resonate with you or made you feel it was specifically written for you?
Of course not.
They are nothing more than a bunch of SEO-friendly paragraphs gathered together. It might be informative like a database, but not enlightening like a Cortazar’s book. They might work for Google bots, but they don’t work with real people.
The Danger Of SEO
Everyone Loves Google… And Wants To Be Loved By Google, of course.
The blog scene didn’t exist before Google, so I guess we’ll never know, but I am curious to know what a blog would have looked like back then.
Today, content is not written spontaneously anymore, or with just artistic or didactic aspirations. Even if it does, it still strictly adheres to the rules of SEO.
That’s understandable to a certain point. People want their content to be consumed and, in order to do that, you need to play the game of Google and -to a lesser extent- Facebook. Because, what’s the point of writing a blog if nobody’s going to read it?
However, the problem comes when you start writing with SEO and visits in mind.
How many posts have you read lately with titles like: “Seven mistakes that are ruining your conversion rate”, or “How We Grew Our Mailing List To 1 Million Subscribers”?
Seriously, does the world need yet another post like these?
Is SEO Evil?
SEO is a series of rules, based on guesses and observations, designed to “hack” Google’s ranking algorithm, yes. However, some of these rules are actually good practices for your writing.
Examples include the coherency between your title and the actual content of the post, or not writing overly long and complex paragraphs that are hard to read.
However, human beings have a record of abusing rules if we can benefit from them.
In the first of our previous examples, that coherency translates to using the keyword in the title, and repeating it -with the exact same phrasing- a determined amount of times. Even if you write the post first and then cram those keywords later, it shows on your writing.
Similarly, taking simplicity to the extreme means that most blog posts, even technical ones, seem to be targeted towards toddlers these days. There’s no real depth because you shouldn’t use complex words, passive voices, or write long paragraphs.
Together, all these SEO rules make you write content for robots, not for human beings.
It’s time to ask yourself: why are you blogging, and who are you blogging to?
Why Are You Blogging?
“If you want to be a writer, you must do two things above all others: read a lot and write a lot.” — Stephen King
Starting a blog is like starting a business. It requires commitment and passion, you can -or not- earn money with it… and just like a business, you need a good reason for starting it.
If you start your blog just because you want to get rich, probably you are in for a disappointment.
I love writing. It’s almost an obsession for me. The more I write, the more I want to write. Additionally, I love sharing my experiences to help or inspire others, talking about what worked for me and what didn’t.
That’s the reason why I started Digital Leaves, to help others break the chains of their 9-to-5 jobs and become freelance iOS developers, like I did. That’s also the reason why I started this blog, to share my experiences as a solopreneur and digital nomad.
I think I have a story to tell at Micropreneur Life, and my own voice.
So should you.
If you still think that you need a bunch of $1 articles to fill your website, ask yourself again why are you blogging.
If you want to grow an audience fast and earn money with ads or affiliate marketing, there are better ways of doing that. Video is massive these days, and its popularity will only keep on growing. You could open a YouTube channel, you can work hard on social media and become an influencer, or you can start a podcast.
Whatever you do, you need to be passionate about it. If you dislike writing and need someone to create content for you, don’t be a blogger. Seriously, do something else you really enjoy.
Write Content Only YOU Can Write
My suggestion would be: write content only YOU can write. That’s what will engage your audience.
Also, be honest and sincere. Write about topics you know, from your own perspective. Talk about your experiences, about the things that made a difference for you. Let others know how you solved a problem or went through a difficult situation, or just show them the world as seen from your eyes.
That’s what will make people come back for more. It will probably not rank the highest on Google, but it will resonate with your audience. On the long run, that’s the way of getting avid readers and fans instead of casual myriad of curious visitors.
Which brings me to my final thought: the quality of your audience is important. If you want your blog to eventually become a business -which is perfectly fine- write quality content that will attract quality readers. Write for them, not for Google.
Today I discussed about how SEO, taken to the extreme, is not a good idea. In my view, SEO and Google rankings have cluttered the blogosphere with mediocre posts that tell nothing about their authors, dull, lifeless amalgamation of paragraphs put together in order to attract visitors.
In this article, I propose you a different approach: forget SEO. Instead, write content only you can write. Content targeted for humans, not for robots. That, in the end, will make your blog grow a quality audience. It will not be that fast, but in my mind, that’s the right way of doing it.
Keith, from Nomad Flag, wrote a very inspirational post about this same topic. His blog is one of the few genuine travel blogs in an overcrowded world of boring repetition, so I recommend you to have a look at it.