Sunday, November 04, 2007

HOW SEO SUCKS THE LIFE OUT OF NONPROFIT BLOGGING

The short answer? Yes (now you don't have to read the rest of the article!).

In search of the holy grail of blogging (search engine optimization), I employed techniques suggested by the experts and, voila! I:
  • Decreased my bounce rate
  • Increased my stickiness
  • Increased my unique page visits
  • Achieved a better goal conversation rate (more on that later since I'm not converting anything to sales)
  • Got more subscribers
  • Got a higher Google Page ranking
  • moved up in the Google search results
In essence, everyone who's questing after SEO's dream.

So what's the problem?

Sigh. I killed my joy of writing, I left my own goals (not Googles) in the dust.

First, I narrowed my focus. My analysis showed most visitors were coming to read technical articles on accounting and compliance. I added more paths:
  • from these frequently visited pages to other similar articles
  • from the home page to a directory of similar articles
  • from the home page to specific follow-up pieces
These efforts immediately shifted my writing priorities from the joie de writing to the capturing of "eyeballs".

Second, I changed my headlines. I saw this coming back in April 2006 (ironically the month I wrote my first post) when I read a New York Times article "This Boring Article is Written for Google". As a writer (or wannabe), the crafting of a punchy headline is half of the fun or writing the story. SEO killed that. The NYT article defined the difference as witty vs. literal. Who wants to read literal? For that matter, who wants to write literal. Witty was always my writing goal, but no more. What was the title I wanted to use? "What if you gave a blog and nobody came?".

Apparently the heading wasn't enough, the search engines scan the first line for similar keywords, to avoid false leads. Thus my unaesthetic "double headline". The more the keywords appeared in the subsequent text the better. Enter redundancy. For example it would be good to mention here that SEO is killing my nonprofit blogging (sigh).

Oh, what tangled webs we weave when first we practice to...

Third, links were a problem. external links send readers away. I can't have that! Remove the links to your favs? Enter the exchange of friendship and community for self-interest. I changed my links from my friends in the blogosphere to internal links to my own posts. Whoo hooo. Way to encourage a dialog.

Then again, how do you have a dialog if you have no readers?

Conclusion? The jury's still out. The challenge is clear. We can't let little bots of code define our agenda, we can't let the limitations of programming reduce our writing to the lowest common denominator... We can't. But what's the alternative?


Read more on frustrations with SEO: I will not blog about blogging

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2 comments:

Jex Analytics said...

Well said and possibly something that I've heard for the first time today, though I've felt it for quite some time.

My non-profit blogging isn't suffering yet, but I can feel it getting there, and my paid blogging is blowing anaemic goats. All because of SEO.

The bills need paid, there's no arguing that, but I've begun an experiment (shhhhh, don't tell anybody) where I just write whatever I feel like and link whenever I think of it.

It's called: Think of the Readers First

It's not doing too bad either, so I'm thinking that somebody at Google is actually reading my drivel. Haha.

Anonymous said...

Pammy, Pammy, Pamm
Had not read your stuff in a while, because I'm going crazy at work. I will continue to say this, when will you write "the" book? Love it, love ya, Rosie!