Write For People, Not Search Engines

SMS Text

As a professional blogger who talks about blogging, I get asked fairly often questions related to search engine optimization. Too often, it seems that these bloggers get too immersed into the inane tactics of SEO that they lose sight of the big picture.

Search engine optimization is an important field. There is a lot to know and, no doubt, it serves a function. But, let’s jump over to my side of the fence for just a moment. My position is simple.

Forget about search engine optimization.

Before I get clobbered by all the SEO people out there, let me elaborate. ๐Ÿ™‚

Write for people, not search engine spiders.

I have managed to do pretty well as a blogger. I make my living at it, in fact. But, it has been pretty rare that I actually had search going through my mind when I wrote a post. I have all but ignored SEO and it doesn’t seem to have had a huge negative impact for me.

Blogging is a SOCIAL business. My recommendation is to write posts designed to help, provoke or inspire your reader. If you provide enough value, you’ll get people spreading your link across other blogs. You’ll go viral on Twitter. You’ll get people Digging your posts. In other words, if you write so as to provide maximum value to the READER, the message will spread through social media.

That’s your incoming link juice.

If your focus is on helping, provoking or inspiring your reader, search will more or less take care of itself. The SEO skills necessary for good blogging are simple basics and there is really no strong need to go beyond the basics. Those basics are:

  1. Use smart permalinks. Rewrite your “slug” so as to put targeted keywords into your URL.
  2. Use the Google XML Sitemap plug-in.
  3. Use a few search keywords in both your headline and your post, but never lose sight of the fact that you write for people first.
  4. Divide your post with headers (H1, H2, H3) tags and put relevant keywords into those headers. Primarily, though, the headers are designed to break the post up and allow for quick scanning by the reader.
  5. Use ALT tags on your images.
  6. Use All-in-One SEO Pack for WordPress and optimize your blog’s title. I’d recommend putting some tightly targeted keywords into your blog title.

The most important thing in my eyes, though, is simply to post a lot. Blogs are already ADORED by the search engines. If those spiders see routine fresh content, they’ll LOVE you.

So, sure, I got into some SEO 101 stuff there. In my eyes, though, it really doesn’t need to get more complicated than this. Your blog will never take off if people don’t like it. Period.

So, if you’re not publishing to your blog often enough because you’re letting SEO concerns turn you into a paralyzed perfectionist, stop that right now. Make your post interesting and publish it.

Write for people. Not search engines.

Do you agree with me? Have I stepped on any toes by saying that I think SEO is overblown for bloggers? If so, please comment below as I’ve love to hear from you.

David Risley is a professional blogger who generates a six figure income every year as a blogger. Having gotten his start as a tech blogger, today his emphasis is on showing other bloggers how to turn their passion into a solid, profitable business. Follow his blog at David Risley dot com. You can follow him on Twitter to keep up with his day-to-day updates.

David Risley

David Risley

David Risley

Latest posts by David Risley (see all)

Subscribe to SEJ!
Get our weekly newsletter from SEJ's Founder Loren Baker about the latest news in the industry!
  • C. A. Webb

    I really enjoyed this post. Great information for bloggers like myself. Appreciate the advice.

  • Jenny

    I love David Risley articles. He always writes great information.

  • Top Online Degrees

    The author has rightly said that one has to write for people and not for search engines. The content has to be very rich. SEO is very long process and success in optimization cannot be achieved overnight.

  • Christina Gleason @ Phenomenal Content

    Yes yes YES! This is why some writers for hire are more in demand than others. Using myself as an example, I always write with the reader in mind, then I go back to see if I’ve missed any of the keywords my clients want… Usually they’re already there. Because I fit them in naturally. Search engines don’t want tricks. They want to give their users what they want. When you write with the users in mind, there’s your SEO!

  • Melody Haines

    Thank you, David! When I read “So, if you’re not publishing to your blog often enough because you’re letting SEO concerns turn you into a paralyzed perfectionist, stop that right now. Make your post interesting and publish it.”–it was like you were talking directly to me! ๐Ÿ˜€ I really needed to hear that right here, right now. So thanks again, from the bottom of my heart. What I really want to do is help people with my blog, and it’s nice to know that that is what is most important, after all.

  • AJ Kohn

    I disagree for the most part, and here’s why.

    Writing for people and writing for search engines is not mutually exclusive. Furthermore, who has the bigger audience, the subscribers to your blog or people searching for content on Google?

    The idea of SEO is to ensure that your content is delivered to the people who are seeking it out. This means you need to be concise and focused.

    A person (or a search engine) needs to understand what the content is about to find and enjoy it.

    If you referred to Twitter as Twister you’re not going to connect with the people who might be searching for your content. Sure, people might spread your content and you might get links but that’s the type of thing that only happens *easily* for a small fraction of bloggers – of which you are one.

    For most of us, that just doesn’t happen. And that’s where writing in a way that benefits both the reader and the search engine is critical.

    Search Engines are like blind five year olds (http://www.blindfiveyearold.com/search-engines-are-like-blind-five-year-olds) they don’t care how pretty your site is, and they need to be told a number of times what something is about and where to go next. And to be honest, this helps your average reader as well.

    People have limited time and they *scan* articles. Make it easy for them to understand what your writing about and they’ll a) read it b) understand it and c) pass it along.

    You can think about a blog post like a book in a library. (http://www.blindfiveyearold.com/seo-holy-trinity)

    There are rows upon rows of books. An average person wandering in is going to look at the title on the spine to determine what that book is about – that’s your browser title.

    Then they might take it down off the shelf and read the synopsis to see if it’s really what they’re looking for – that’s the meta description.

    The URL is essentially the dewy decimal system in the analogy.

    But all three should be focused and informative so that anyone – at a glance – can understand that they’ve found the right item.

    Shelve a horror book under technology and you’re not going to get a lot of folks reading it.

    Once opening the book you need to deliver great content and it should be of the same topic as your title and meta description or you’ll chase readers off.

    You *do* want to write for the search engine because it also benefits your readers. I could go on and on but I’ll stop and step off my soapbox.

  • Susan


  • thebitbot

    Bravo! Nice read. Search engines do not read for enjoyment anyway…:)

    http://www.thebitbot.com – an enhanced Google custom search engine…

  • Tag44

    Thanks David for such useful information to keep in mind while writing the content of the site.

  • Les

    I agree. People will get bored quickly with content that has repetitive words etc.

    Your point about frequent posts also holds true.

    I am doing much of what you mention above + using a few other choice WP plugins.

    I am also experimenting with Disqus – for commenting etc. There is some good link juice there.

  • Jackie

    Thank you. I don’t think you’re saying it’s all or nothing in regard to optimizing for SEO. But I love hearing that writing with integrity to serve a sincere purpose can frequently achieve both obectives.

  • John

    I must admit to being someone that spends to long worrying about making the posts and copy of my page perfect rather than just worrying about content. A well written article .

  • Mariano

    Indeed, the basics are the basics and if you do not have good, human friendly, content then you can SEO ’till the cows come home to no avail since you will get traffic that quickly makes a u-turn.


  • Matt Brennan

    You have to write for people, or they’re not going to stick around for long. It doesn’t matter where you rank if you’re writing’s not readable.