Here’s an important blogging tip for all you SEO-obsessed writers out there: Google hates long sentences.
Being a fan of long sentences myself, finding that out rather broke my heart at first. I’m all about adding clarifications, explanations and listings into my statements. Especially my opening statements.
Which is where Google apparently applies its hatred the most heavily.
So how long is too long? Well, the answer probably varies depending on which expert you’re talking to at what point of the day after which new Google tips have been discovered. (Because you know it comes out with new stuff all the time.)
But that last non-parenthetical sentence? That would definitely be deemed too long. And the opening one itself is borderline. As such, I seriously considered revising it altogether.
But then I started thinking about other SEO-specific blogging tips we writers are supposed to keep in mind. And there are so many of them!
Put your most important keyword(s) or key phrase(s) – though not too many of them – into both the blog’s title and opening line, or at least opening paragraph.
Put those same important keyword(s) or key phrase(s) – though not too many of them – into the blog’s closing line.
Keep your content to within 200-500 words.
Bold keywords to make them stand out more.
Oh yeah, and use images. Not at the top of your article, mind you, but after the first third. Or something like that.
Follow all those rules – plus all the other ones out there – and you’ll do just great in the SEO category. Google will love you, and you’ll come up on the first page of everyone’s searches.
Personally, I’m just not so sure about that.
As someone who makes part of her living off of blogging, I know this is dangerous of me to bring up. But how long will your readers really stay with you when your daily content is dry, repetitive and formulaic?
I know I’m coming from this whole blogging thing from a writing perspective, not an SEO angle. So there is that bias to take into account while you read what I have to say.
And believe me, I’m not trying to discount the value of search engine optimization. Nor do I blame Google or any of its competitors for the lack of engaging communication available these days. It’s simply the way society is trending.
With all those clarifications aside though, I firmly believe that message quality trumps message metrics any day. In other words, it’s much more important to present worthwhile information in a clear and engaging manner for an audience of any size than to merely attract a large audience.
Blogging is supposed to be about enlightening people, engaging them and encouraging them. Yet those goals become increasingly more difficult to do when we draw ever-tightening boxes around our efforts.
That’s why this is how I handle my own search engine optimization efforts:
The SEO title always follows the expected rules.
The opening line always matches the title.
Everything after that focuses on readability, relatability and relativity. If my prime keyword, keywords or key phrases fit into the copy more than once, wonderful. But that’s not my prime focus.
The final sentence has to carry the right note of enlightenment, engagement or encouragement. This is an area I do try to get Google’s attention with, but if it doesn’t flow right that way, then oh well.
Oh, my SEO-light efforts might not always show up on page 1 of an academic writer, business writer or creative/non-fiction writer’s Google search – my core client bases.
But what I write draws readers in regardless. Then it keeps them coming back for more.
Any blogging tips that can promote that kind of return traffic are alright with me.