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A blogger’s guide to how to not give a shit about SEO

A blogger’s guide to how to not give a shit about SEO

A fellow blogger who is taking a digital marketing course was recently told that she needs to write more ‘how to’ posts for SEO purposes. That’s the sort of content that does well in search results, the teachers argued, so that’s what bloggers should be writing.

So, as a digital marketing professional and fellow blogger, I figured I’d write a how to post about how to not give a shit about SEO.

Write like a human

Don’t write for Yoast or any other SEO plugin. Yoast isn’t going to be reading your post – people are.

If you use common sense, your post will probably be pretty SEO-friendly anyway. Choose a descriptive title. Write a good meta description. Use keywords that are relevant to your topic. Link to other relevant content on your own site and other sites. Name your images sensibly and add alt tags.

Most importantly, write content that is engaging. If your content is good, people will want to share it and link to it, which will naturally help your search engine ranking.

Not all traffic is created equal

Getting traffic to your site doesn’t mean much if it’s the wrong sort of traffic.

Unicorns are cool now, right? Apparently you can even get a unicorn burger now. I could have stuck ‘unicorn’ in the title of this post and littered the body text with more ‘unicorns’ in order to try to capitalise on this trend of making things look like a 6-year-old’s fairy princess fantasy has vomited all over them.

That might have brought some unicorn-mad people to this post, but they wouldn’t read it. They would leave immediately once they realised that there’s no unicorn fun to be had here and never come back. Those extra page views would essentially be meaningless.

Don’t waste your time writing posts that might bring in a high volume of traffic but generate little engagement. Focus on writing content that people will actually want to read – the kind of stuff that encourages them to share your posts and keeps coming back for more.

Search traffic isn’t everything

How much of your traffic comes from organic search anyway? For me, it’s about 20%. Most of my traffic comes from social media, even though I’m really crap at it. I imagine it’s even higher for bloggers who actually put a bit of effort into their social strategy, rather than saying, “Oh yeah, it’s been about three weeks since I’ve posted on Instagram. Maybe I should put up a picture of the back of my kid’s head again or something.”

Write about what you love

None of us got into blogging because we wanted to rank on the first page of Google search results. We started because we had something to say about something we care about.

If you love how to posts and you know how to do lots of useful things, then by all means, publish as many as you want. There’s nothing wrong with how to guides. I could actually use one on how to remind your almost two-year-old that sleeping in their own bed is super fun, if you’ve got one.

But if you find them boring and prefer to write less-than-useful posts about things like toddler parodies of folk songs and robot babies, then publish your weird content to heart’s content. Who needs another ‘how to pack your hospital bag’ post anyway?

Rhyming with Wine
Two Tiny Hands
Mummy in a Tutu

Island Living 365

58 thoughts on “A blogger’s guide to how to not give a shit about SEO”

  • I love this so much Katie. Come over to blogger, where we have no idea whether our stuff is green or red, and we just type and hope for the best 😉

    • Trust me, I’ve thought about it. In any case, Yoast got deleted about 24 hours after I installed it.

  • Love this. Some of those courses should be retitled “How make blogging as boring as anything for both the blogger and the reader” by encouraging everybody to write identical content.

    While I love a good how to guide, I don’t want to read them all the time. Folk songs and robot babies … Bring it on! 🙂 Even better if it’s a folk song about a robot baby who rides a unicorn 😉

    • A folk song about a robot baby who rides a unicorn might be a bit beyond my creative talent. 🙂

    • Giving your images names definitely helps SEO! And alt tags are important too, not just for SEO but for accessibility too.

  • Absolutely love this there are some supposedly pro bloggers selling ridiculous courses at stupid prices I believe write for yourself and no one else I personally don’t care about Seo great post #dreamteam

  • Ah, some sense at last. Ive been spending hours trying to understand SEO (and finding that it seems to remove the spontaneity and creativity (and fun) somewhat). Very refreshing to read your post -with hidden tips!

  • I am doing you a one person Mexican wave right now. Yoast is sucking the life out of my blog! I spend an hour writing a post and then find myself still faffing about trying to get the fudging lights to go green three hours later, until I totally lose the will to live with it. Apparently all poems are “Not readable”. Bleurgh!! I have written a poem / rant on this very subject which I’ll be publishing on Thurs. At 6am. Because the Googlebots will probably shut me down if I dare to break ranks and not publish in a consistent timely manner. Or something? Love this with all of my ?. (Green and everything!) x

    • Haha – what does Yoast know about poetry? Forget Yoast, forget the Googlebots – just keep doing your thing. 🙂

  • Yes! 100% agree! Sometimes I draft posts and pause before publishing, thinking, “Are people actually going to be interested in this?!”, but I have to remind myself that my blog is, ultimately, about MY interests and thoughts. And actually, I’m DREADFUL at predicting which posts people will be interested in and which will hardly get a view at all – I’m always wrong! So there’s no point second-guessing – just do what you enjoy 🙂 #dreamteam

    • I’m bad at predicting which posts people will like too! I’m always surprised by the ones that do well – sometimes the ones I work really hard on get hardly any views at all.

  • Totally agree. I’ve recently got yoast. And looked through my old posts. They all have red or orange lights, but then the more recent ones are all green. Without me trying. Just by me being a better writer, knowing my subject and my audience. I think it’s just something that comes naturally when you write what you love.

    Occasionally now the little light is orange and I generally think “shut up, I like it how it is” and leave it anyway, so I don’t know why I bother! #familyfunlinky

    • That makes sense – by getting more experience and becoming a better writer, your posts will naturally become better and therefore more SEO-friendly. And it’s great that you’re not afraid to ignore the orange light!

  • Love this popple. As a Pinterest user I love to write to SEO but if I write stuff non Pinterest worthy then I don’t SEO it up because I know there is no point as I’ve written it for me. So yes I do but don’t care too!! ‪Thank you for linking up to the #familyfunlinky‬ ?

    • Don’t get me wrong, I try to write sensible titles and meta descriptions and all that, but I don’t get too hung up about it, especially if I love what I wrote. If you’ve written something because you love it, who cares what Google thinks?

  • I pay zero attention to SEO, don’t even have Yoast installed. I may be costing myself some views, but if I start changing my style to get Google hits, the people that actually come to my site because they enjoy my writing and what I’m saying will start to fade away. Maybe I’m naive, but I don’t think a lot of people are searching Yahoo to find out how my daughter’s bike riding is progressing. I did write something about eating placentas after giving birth that gets a bunch of search hits. people are weird. #familyfun

    • Exactly – a lot of parenting blogs write about family life, which isn’t the kind of thing that people will necessarily be searching for. That being said, people will still read those kinds of posts because they like the blogger and their writing.

  • haha … love this. SEO is one of the only reasons I want to upgrade my site again to the next level on WordPress, but it’s really not necessary when all I want to do is write. Like you said, if you write decent content that is engaging, the followers who matter will come.

  • This cracked me up! It’s so true, once you find out about something like SEO you feel like you NEED to it, but then once you do it, you realise that actually it’s just a pain in the bum! I like your style of just writing to write like your blog was originally intended for!

  • I’m always surprised when my posts get the green light, because I just write! It’s like it spills out of me in a big blubbery mess that Yoast seems to kind of like haha! I’ll admit, I pay a bit of attention to alt tags and image descriptions, but purely because one day I might get around to sticking some images on my Pinterest account haha! Love this #ablogginggoodtime

  • Amen to this!! There are far too many dos and don’t these days – which is pants, especially as most of us started this as a little hobby! It can get so stressful and it’s not necessary! Great read. I hope people take note. #ablogginggoodtime

  • I can’t be dealing with SEO so this post really made me chuckle! Having said that, I do have Yoast installed for the sheer heck of it. And 9 times out of 10 the SEO part gives me a green light without me even trying. The readability thing though? Well, that part tends to remain red. The little swine! #ablogginggoodtime

  • I love this post – so refreshing, I think I may have already commented but I’ll do it again as it’s made me laugh about SEO, when it’s been stressing me before. All this trying to get that green yoast button, then I’m not writing like I normally write, just to get it so it all sounds rubbish. So, I’m not bothering you. Like you say, how much traffic am I realistically going to get from it anyway! #fridayfrolics

  • Love this – makes me feel a lot better about just brain dumping on my blog a couple of times a week and hoping for the best! #FridayFrolics

  • I’ve been blogging for a year now and have been on social media for the same length of time – yes the two are connected lol! I’ve just learned about adding alt tags to pictures but am now wondering what a meta description is?? I write my posts because life is funny – I don’t do a word count or pepper them with key words – again what?? Anyway, I enjoy myself lol! #FridayFrolics

  • Love this. It’s so true. If my post doesn’t need a subheading with the keyword in I’m not going to put it in just to get one step closer to a green light. And some if the ‘readability’ factors are rediculous.

  • What idiot blogger thought it would even be a good idea to even do this course 😉 You know my thoughts on it and how it made me feel utterly shit about it all for a couple of days. But then I realised that I write how I like and I should just continue to write how I like. I’ve done okay so far. I have just published a ‘how to post’ as an experiement. It is green for everything but it is dull as dishwater. I’m going to see what happens…..I’m hoping that I can go back and shout “seeeeee how to posts are poop” #FridayFrolics

  • Love what you did there! Sounds like something I would do. #PassiveAggressive Not only did you meet the “How To for SEO” criteria, but made it funny and completely ironic. Thanks for informing I should name my images. (George and Lynda aren’t acceptable names for pictures)

  • I’ve only just seen that I should have Yoast or whatever…..I don’t have a clue about any of this but have been recently naming my photos….I may not bother upgrading then as I’m not doing this blogging thang for anyone but me! Thanks for the read. #blogcrush

  • I love writing how to craft this and that. As for parenting advice everyone’s unique and a how to for one may not work for another. Do what you enjoy and people will follow. #FamilyFun

  • I always think people must be disappointed if they come to my blog looking for how to do something. Most of the time it’s how not to do it. I agree with everything you have said, although bizarely most of my traffic comes from search engines! Thanks for linking up to #FridayFrolics

  • I’ve only just discovered yoast and started considering SEO. This article is a great reminder for me to find the middle ground you described.

  • I never tried Yoast, and I’m finished with registering and following everything and everyone. Klout was the last drop, never even used it since registering. You need more than 24 hours a day just to keep up with all the linkies, posting on social media, writing actual blog articles and and read other blogs. Seriously. I have two children to look after! ? You just need to remember why did you start your blog at the first place and stick with it. Unless you’re determined to make a living with it. Good luck then ?

  • This is spot on! I keep getting messaged by companies claiming I need their help with seo. I really dont care at this moment in time as I’m blogging for fun. If money can be made then thats fine but right now, I’m writing for my friends who enjoy my humourous posts.

  • Hahaha that last comment made me chuckle! Search engines are slowly bringing me a bit more traffic but only for posts I do of days out or places we visited. The random ones like my weekly round-up I post every Friday don’t even both SEO’ing now. I don’t think people would be searching for “what I learned this week” ! #ablogginggoodtime

  • All the yesses to this!! I’ve been thinking the same thing about Yoast since I went self hosted. It’s a guide, but by getting the green lights you’re not guaranteeing your post will be read! I’m really glad to read that I’m doing everything you advise, especially just writing my own weird posts that I love! Thanks for talking some sense into the blogosphere! #blogcrush

  • Me and SEO are falling out as to get those green lights on Yoast I almost feel like I’m compromising part of my post.
    You’re right that its a healthy balance of attracting traffic, but the RIGHT traffic. I’ve read some posts about how to get viral, but id rather a natural following than those who come only for one post! #familyfun

  • Love this! I have given up trying to get that damn light on yoast to turn green. I definitely think it’s better to write for humans and not for robots.xx #BlogCrush

  • I bloody love this. Can I tell you a secret?! I had yoast for a week and then deleted it. Blogging may be my job but my posts are for me and that is how it should be xx
    Thanks for linking to #ablogginggoodtime Don’t forget to join us again next week!

  • Woo hoo – I’m actually doing something right! I don’t give a flying f**k about SEO! I don’t have yoast. I don’t have a clue! But I know that I cannot be bothered to base my writing around key sodding words!

    Thanks so much for joining us for #FridayFrolics

  • As many have said I bloody love this. Laughed so much. And the comments are almost as funny!! Eric and his George and Lynda line. I laughed helplessly for a straight 5 minutes. So…erm…I use Yoast much to my embarrassment. You know what? My 3 viral posts 2 years ago…do you think I bothered with the yoast thing for those? Nope. No I did not. Just went with titles that appealed to me and used my noggin for the rest. I’m pretty sure that tells us something about the sodding green light.

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