Hello there, blogger!
Before everything, I'd like you to know that I am not writing this to sell myself as some kind of blogging or social media guru. I am not and will never claim to be one -- at least for now and the foreseeable future.
At times when I am asked what my expertise is, I always say that I am a writer -- although I really do more than just write.
Last night, I saw a fellow blogger give out advice to other bloggers about blogging and I reacted by posting my own advice. It sort of ended up as a free exchange of ideas about how to do better blogging.
My advice for better blogging which I tweeted out last night and will expound on in this blog is this: FORGET ABOUT SEO. Focus on writing useful, interesting and original articles.
Now, giving advice at 140 characters at a time is challenging and I decided to use up this morning writing a blog about the stuff that I do that I think makes for good blogging.
So, let me re-write the tweet advice that I gave last night and say here that in order to be a better blogger, you have to focus on just three main things: READING, THINKING, WRITING.
On SEO and Writing, which of the two comes first
Forget SEO or Search Engine Optimization, for now -- at the very least.
This field of expertise (which is basically analyzing search engine use and optimizing websites in order to get top search engine results ranking) comes into play ONLY if your intent is to go into marketing something on the internet.
When the term SEO started coming out, a lot of people were marketing the idea that the right SEO could "explode your traffic" and "get you tons of leads, subscribers, etcetera".
Back then, it was an enticing prospect and I bought into the idea. I managed to understand enough SEO and apply what I've learned with some success. But after months of using a writing style that accommodated SEO, I realized that I was writing in a rather odd way -- quite different from the conversational style that I try to manifest in whatever I am writing about.
I am not saying that writing in a conversational and engaging manner is not possible with SEO. What I am pointing at is that, personally, it's something that I'd prioritize next to last so that I can get my writing groove on.
Dealing with a writer's block is bad news enough by itself. Dealing with a writer's block and having to construct an article with SEO in mind is even worse.
Anyway, on-site search optimization is a no brainer if you are using Wordpress and have installed an SEO plug-in. Together with traffic/website analysis tools, you can probably come up with pretty good traffic for any post.
Moreover, if you are really into this thing as a business, in some cases it may be better to just advertise on Google -- but you'd still have to know how to get the right keywords and that'll lead you back to SEO.
That said, my advice really with respect to considering SEO when blogging is to leave it out until you finish your article, if 'marketing' is not your first reason for coming up with the article.
If marketing IS the first reason for writing an article, it pays to have the right tools (use wordpress, use a traffic/keyword/website analysis service, use an automated article submitter, etcetera) and investing in a lot of pre-writing time steeped in analyzing traffic data and the websites that populate search results.
In fact, if marketing IS the real intent of your blogging or online time, you are better off investing in an website that is completely built up just for marketing -- everything from concept to execution, up from the domain name, to the design, to the content and functionalities.
(Part Two: Focus on Reading, Thinking, and Writing)