It’s no accident that I don’t write for my blog as much anymore. Not only is it difficult to gain traction on social media since Facebook changed their content discovery algorithm, but I often feel like every piece needs to be optimized for distribution in some way or form. That kind of kills the joy out of not just writing in general, but also specifically writing for this blog. In short, the old adage, ‘if you built it, they will come’ is certainly not true when it comes to blogging.
I’ve often said that blogging is like writing a first draft – you’re kind of just throwing up on the page and seeing what sticks. It’s not as refined or pristine as something you’d try to publish on another website, or even something that you’d write creatively. Blogging is like walking on the treadmill – not useless, exactly, but it’s nothing to write home about in terms of developing your writing skills. That’s why, for better or worse, all blog posts need to be optimized around a keyword for SEO. If you’re not going to gain traction on social media (I’ve had articles that have gotten 20k views on Facebook and Reddit, which wouldn’t happen today without any paid ads) you need to focus on writing content around a keyword.
This is inherently stifling, your content only exists as a commodity, and it only exists to answer relevant user questions. But it doesn’t have to be. I have found that you can write blog content that is SEO optimized and that is also inherently creative. Take my last blog post, ‘How to Uninstall Blizzard Games From Your Life’. It’s not inherently a brilliant piece, but it does take my personal narrative about quitting Blizzard games once and for all and marries it with the keyword ‘uninstall Blizzard games.’ Obviously, that isn’t what the user intent is for the keyword. People are purely looking on information on how to uninstall a Blizzard game from their computer. But by adding a section about that, but also focusing on what I want to say around the topic, I found that I was able to rank the piece and get plenty of eyeballs on it.
Although I certainly don’t know the first thing about web design (as you can see from the structure of my blog) having an extensive knowledge of SEO and being a creative writer can actually be paired quite well. There’s no better marketing channel to get traffic from than Google – it’s estimated that over 40,000 people per second search for something on Google. Correct me if I’m wrong, but I don’t know of any other channel that can potentially generate that type of search volume for you. If you’re a decent writer, and, more importantly, you know how to work the search system, you can climb the Google rankings with a mediocre blog for a keyword with high volume and low difficulty. After all, I work in SEO, and have access to premier tools such as Ahrefs, so it wasn’t a stretch for me to do so.
To do so, you just need to approach the whole thing creatively. I once got a great piece of advice from a writing mentor of mine, “write the things you want to read but don’t exist.” Unbeknownst to him, you can also approach SEO content writing for your blog the same. All you need to do is create something really good that targets that keyword and that people will want to read. Just make sure your site can actually rank for that keyword based on what else is ranking. Forum posts and Medium posts, for example, are pretty easy to outrank.
The most important thing though is to write on your blog for the joy of just writing on your blog. I didn’t optimize this post toward a keyword – sometimes you just don’t want to do that. And that’s ok. Your blog isn’t going to change the world. But if you want people to read it – and you want to feel like what you have to say matters, then you better creatively optimize for SEO. Because if you don’t, you’re going to struggle with keeping up your blog in any meaningful way.