Oh boy are we gonna have fun today! In short, I’m going to tell you the details I recently found out about search engine optimization and then come up with a flimsy excuse to explain away why I’m too lazy to do it. Let me set the scene:
From time to time, I will stumble upon one of your wonderful posts that lays out how the author is deeply disappointed or dissatisfied with their blog’s stats. At which point said stats are usually given out and explained, and I get to feel pretty silly indeed for not only being happy with, but occasionally even proud my stats which are almost always objectively worse than the ones discussed in the post.
This is a me problem. Because my blog has no particular goal, I often long for some clear indicators of progress. Stats is an obvious one. So in those times , I’ll get little bursts of energy and actively try to make my blog…*better???*. The last of these escapades lead me to read up on SEO in 2019 and how to Master it. What I found out was a little depressing. Not in that it was depressing in and of itself but because I’ve pretty much been doing everything wrong.
First the good news though. There are a few SEO techniques that are fairly easy and you could do right now if you wanted to. Here are some websites with easy tips and tricks.
It’s not all bad. In fact none of it is bad at all. It’s simply a little disheartening to me as it told me that my approach to blogging was all wrong from the start.
The first thing to understand is that all these guides and articles are meant to teach you how to create a *successful* website, and success on the internet is measured first and foremost by number of views. Not followers (subscribers), not likes or comments nor even recognition from the community. All those are ultimately just a means to get more views. It is true that a high follower count is still very attractive to potential investors and advertiser’s, which is the perceived end goal of all these guides. However, this is more and more discounted if the views don’t follow but it is a nice starting point.
This is where one of the oldest WordPress tricks comes in: The Follow for Follow. As I said follower count is not as important as it use to be but it’s not completely meaningless either. And on this platform (due to the reader app), it’s a quick way to up your reach.
On the surface Follow for Follow makes perfect sense. If someone is following my blog and consistently reading my posts, in all likelihood we have some things in common. They are paying attention because they like my sense of humor or my ideas on certain subject or we simply have similar tastes. It’s only natural that I would want to see what they post. In practice this becomes quickly unviable as reading thousands of posts a day is simply not possible for most of us. The smart way to capitalize on this is to get in at the ground floor. If you read a lot of blogs you may eventually notice how some bloggers are very quick to follow new blogs and they will like all the posts for a little while then move on to the next new blog. This is very effective as you won’t get buried under a slew of other followers and new bloggers are so excited about any interaction that they are much more likely to follow you right back. And don’t get me wrong, I think it can be beneficial. Any encouragement you give a new blog is extremely helpful even if you’re not planning on sticking around.
Now this isn’t exactly SEO. It’s just a little WordPress trick some people use. I just wanted to throw it in here because the reader app can be considered a sort of search engine. It also serves to illustrate the difference between building a community and growing a blog. They simply aren’t the same thing and you can’t expect to go about it in the same way. For one, if you ever want a *lucrative* blog, you have to eventually accept that your readers are either your customers (Patreon, Kofi, ect), your product (if you are selling advertising space on your blog or doing sponsored posts) or both.
But back to SEO. Pretty much every article I read indirectly confirmed that writing about what you want to write about may seem poetic but it’s just not all that effective. If you want to get people to your blog, you need to write about what they want to read. Basically, once you’ve chosen your general field of interest (i.e. anime), you should use one of the dozens of available services out there to figure out what people are searching for in relation to said field. These platforms will generate lists of relevant keywords ranked by popularity.
Careful now, you can’t just pick the most popular one and call it a day. It’s great that a billion people are searching “anime girl” but if there’s already a quadjillion pages on the subject, you’re still not gonna get hits. You have to balance out the popularity of any given keyword with the competition for it.
Once you’ve chosen your keyword, put it everywhere. In your tags, your pic descriptions, your title and sprinkle it throughout your post. And keep doing that with multiple posts until you reach page 1 of Google results. Then move on to subjects closely related enough to still use it in your tags and so on. After all, few professional writers can actually choose their subjects. Passion may make for good writing but you gotta learn to generate it on command.
Another common tip I saw was “links not likes”. From what I understood, this means that although engagement may feel personally rewarding and likes and comments do have a small influence on search engine results, they are much less important than having another site link back to yours. This really tells those googlebots that your blog is relevant and high quality.
In other words, as far as Google is concerned, an insightful essay which prompts 100 comments is fine but an “award” post with 20 nominees of which 10 link back to you, is absolutely amazing! This is a big part of the reason so many “award” and tag post creators insist that everyone link back to their blogs.
You may have noticed that I have yet to talk about actual content. This is because it sadly doesn’t matter. Obviously interesting well written posts are what is going to keep people coming back to your blog, but it’s not necessarily what’s going to make them discover it. Really the only content tips I could find was use pictures, write longer posts and whenever possible include videos. That’s really all the search engine cares about. Besides finding your key words of course.
The few pages I found with any general content suggestions told me to keep the language simple (use small words), break up long paragraphs and don’t advertise too much in my posts. Beyond that, I’m free to publish any nearly readable garbage I like!
Before you get the wrong idea, none of these tips are bad and they don’t prevent anyone from creating a wonderful and entertaining blog. It’s just that writing great posts and getting lots of views are two different things that require different steps. One won’t necessarily bring about the other or imply it in any way.
And did I mention I’m lazy? I am. I barely have time and inspiration to keep up with the blog as is. Requiring that I do research and write posts on imposed topics. Multiple posts at that. Is a quick way to burn me out. I will try to tag my pics more often but for the rest, the SEO game is a bit much for me right now.
If I ever find any easy magic SEO tricks that I can do without too much extra effort, I will do it and I’ll make sure to tell you all about it. Or you can tell me about it!