An Extraordinary Rant: SEO and the State of the Blogosphere
Every once in a blue moon, I like to post something personal and outside of the general subject matter of this site. Many of my readers have gotten to know me personally, whether it is via email correspondence, comments, the forum, or just my writing style.
I have been actively blogging since about 2007. At that time I put pen to paper finger to key because I loved to write and needed a hobby. I was inspired to begin begin the journey into blogging by reading great blogs by others. I had no idea what a down and dirty, cutthroat, deceptive game some writers were playing in order to garner popularity.
In 2009 I decided to start a blog about all things unexplained and unknown. useful reference was born, and I poured a lot of time into writing my articles and introducing myself to like minded writers. In fact, most of my early readership came from other writers. Networks were formed, friends were made, and the ball began rolling.
I never spent a lot of time worrying about the issues of Page Rank and Keywords etc. I look at these things a bit more now, but not initially. My focus was writing content that interested me personally, knowing that there were others out there that shared the same interests.
As time rolled along, I started noticing a yucky trend. See, as I said, I am not simply a writer, I am a fan of writing. I spend almost as much time perusing other sites as I do honing my own. I noticed how many sites are just loaded with spam and irrelevant junk. All these sites that cause ads to pop up out of no where and other pop ups that say “Hey! Where ya goin?? Are you sure you don’t wanna pretty please subscribe?!?!” Enough already! Do people not realize that this utterly detracts people from wanting to return?
I don’t want to trick people into looking at Extraordinary Intelligence. I like to believe that the vast majority of my readership comes to my site because they like the content. They searched for something like “Ghosts” and they wound up here. Simple as that. And I believe that is about the most honest way of building and attracting readership.
Now, there’s nothing wrong with networking. I have done so myself via Twitter and Myspace and Facebook (E.I. is no longer on MS or FB)… I have added my site to a few blog directories.. the normal stuff. But, it seems to me that there is an alarming trend of people blogging for recognition and money rather than having those 2 things be the natural result of good content that the author believes in.
My readership is organic and stress free. Those that visit my site want to be here. And yes, it took time to build the readership and the Search Engine visibility, but at the end of the day, I can feel good about the fact that I have managed to build something that is uniquely my own, with my own words and minimal thought to placing just the right keywords in order to force my way closer to the top of the heap.
If you are a writer or a blogger, no doubt you’ve happened upon the sites that proclaim to have the SEO (Search Engine Optimization) Tips and Tricks that Can’t Fail. I’m sure that some of these hints are helpful as can be, but is it really necessary to go nuts trying to do everything in just the precisely right way in order to attract Google? Google finds Extraordinary Intelligence just fine. If the technical back end stuff is in order like Site Maps and Spam Filters etc, you should be able to attract readers without losing sleep. I’m lucky that I have help with some of those things (Hi Gene!) but even if you’re on your own, I’ve found that it really isn’t that complicated.
Here’s the fact. It is impossible to throw a virtual rock in any digital direction without hitting an SEO Help page. The dirty secret is that most of these sites that proclaim to exist only to help you, are in fact in existence simply because they KNOW that most bloggers spend too much time worrying about these things. They also know that simply having a site loaded with keywords like SEO and Page Rank and Search Engine is going to garner instant traffic. This traffic will translate to higher ranking for THEM which will in turn result in more revenue from their Sponsors or advertising affiliates.
The truth is that the majority of what they tell you is either rehashed info or… for lack of a better term… total waste of time garbage. They are trying to jump on the bandwagon of Keyword heavy pocket lining, meanwhile giving you little information that is very useful.
And what they rarely tell you is that the algorithm that determines search engine result pages (SERPS) is a complete mystery to basically everyone except the search engine. That’s right. Anyone who claims to know the ultimate secret about how Google ranks a page or a website is likely lying. The complex and mind boggling methods that Google uses to determine rankings is a secret known only to Google. Case closed.
In the meantime, my experience has shown that the most important hints to maintaining a nice readership are these:
Create good and original content.
Use images and label them properly.
Make certain that you use appropriate tags for your posts.
Love what you do.
If you can do these simple things, you will not only attract readers, but you will be able to spend less time stressing about minutia and more time cultivating an enjoyable blog that people will not be annoyed to visit.
Don’t get hooked into thinking that content is secondary to tricky tactics that may help in the short term. Slowly building a loyal readership over time is the most rewarding way to blog. At least I think so.