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April 17, 2007

Don’t Optimize Your Blog To Death

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Do a search for "optimize your blog" or "blog optimization" and literally millions upon millions of search results turn up. We’ve been hearing for awhile now that blogs can play a big part in your search engine optimization campaign, increasing content and giving you a place to address important keywords. And as all savvy marketers know: keywords plus content equal rankings.

Now that everyone, including your mother (crochet blogs rock!), has a blog, the next big thing is optimizing that blog to get you ranking above your competition and bringing in valuable search traffic. What could be better, right?

Eh, not so fast. A problem arises when your blog becomes nothing more than keyword vomit and loses any sense of personality or human feel. Increased traffic that doesn’t convert has no value. If you bore people with keyword-filled valueless content, they’ll go away. Susan has the same problem with personality. I keep telling her to add value and she keeps talking about comic book characters.

Joe Lewis had a great post over at WebProNews commenting on a recent Boston University study that found optimizing your blog with keywords may increase search engine referrals but it won’t increase your blog popularity or help retain readers. Overly inserting keywords will help users find you and you may see some ranking benefits, but you’re not going to be attracting new visitors or clients that way. They’ll see through your content and move on.

In laymen’s terms, blogs that focus only on keywords provide zero benefit. Got it?

Even worse, users may associate you with your dead and boring content and be completely disinterested in what you have to offer. After all, if your blog is boring, your company probably is too, right? Why would I want to pay money to be associated with you? I’d rather go someplace where the people are smart and fun.

You need to decide what the purpose of your blog is. Are you going to use your blog only as a tool for your search engine optimization campaign, or are you going to use it as a branding tool? Ideally, you want to do both and you need to find a happy medium of keywords and added value.

Everyone has slightly varying objectives for their blog, but to me, at its core, your blog should be a natural extension of your site. It should be a place for you to express an opinion, to educate readers, and to give them a glimpse into who you are and what the feel of your company is. Blogs are more than just another search engine optimization tool. To me, the branding opportunities far outweigh any lift you’ll get in rankings.

Clearly, you should work your keywords into your blog when appropriate. You’d be dumb not to. Attracting new site visitors through higher rankings is great. But just like with your optimization efforts, the goal of your blog isn’t just to bring new visitors to your site. You want them to do ultimately something – to become a loyal blog reader, to dig deeper onto your site and learn about your services, to fill out a form, to perform some action. You don’t want them find you on the SERP, realize you’re just trying to sell something, and then leave. That doesn’t provide any benefit, it may even hurt you. Rankings do nothing if you’re sacrificing the value of your brand.

As Joe mentions, you really only have one opportunity to convert a blog reader. That impression will be solely based on the content you provide. Using the term "search engine optimization" ten times in the first page is not going to help you convert.

If you instead, unabashedly mock your supervisor and her lack of personality (I’ve mentioned Susan is boring and cranky, right?), you may gain some points. Who doesn’t dislike their supervisor? No one, that’s who! See, it brings people together! [Also gets you fired. That’s once this week.–Susan] – You love me. Admit it, you were bored without me last week.

Don’t optimize your blog to death and make it about keywords and nothing else. Let people see what your company is about. You may be about cute puppies, but that doesn’t mean you can only talk about "cute puppies". Use keywords when appropriate, but don’t overdo it to the point where you’re sacrificing its value. Optimize your blog by making your content and your site stickier. A good blog is one that builds your brand by mixing authoritative content with a touch of personality. Rankings and keywords are good, but the success of your blog and site are determined by how well you convert, not by how many people find you through the search results.

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3 responses to “Don’t Optimize Your Blog To Death”

  1. Jennifer Laycock writes:

    Hey, when you have a puppy as cute as ours, you can’t help but talk about it!

    Now that I think about it, I should probably blog about our cute puppy more…

    Thanks for the idea!

  2. Mihaela Lica writes:

    Lisa,
    That’s probably the best piece of advice for business blogs I’ve been reading lately.
    Btw, although I do not comment often on this blog (is it my first time? I think it is!), you were never boring.

  3. Nathania Johnson writes:

    Great post. I think since blogs are essentially social media to begin with, the best way to “market” your blog is through Social Media Optimization in addition to networking.

    Blogs (at least my personal ones) seem to get picked up by the blog search engine @ Google pretty well.

    But I would try to make sure that the title tags for every page are different to avoid duplicate content issues.



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