Please brace up because this blog post may end up controversial. I am still going to go on ahead to write it anyway. The other reason why this blog post has to go up is so that I, myself, can be reminded of why I started blogging and how to keep my fire burning.

I know this is going to be weird on different levels because it’s not just you I want to address, it’s us. It’s me, you and the rest of the other Bloggers in the world.

I am going to start from the very beginning a.k.a, this may call for some ramblings. I apologize ahead if you don’t read ramblings. Okay, here’s another way forward, you can just move on straight to the concluding part of the post too.

Some weeks ago, there was an argument between some Bloggers and I. This one guy said that it is pointless to go around claiming Blogger if you are not making some cool money from it.  What he meant by cool money, was plenty cash, like big big money. Sorry, I had to explain that one again. I already said I might ramble but please stay with me, stay with me, I am heading somewhere.

He continued, he said all the Bloggers that just come on to write about their hair and their dresses, dogs and plane flights are just messing around. All the other Bloggers agreed, fam.  I was the only one on the opposition side.

I reminded him that we have hobby Bloggers. Bloggers who just want to write and truly connect. We have Bloggers who just want to express on a platform they can call theirs. They are not placing priority on money and so if they don’t make money from their blogs, it really doesn’t matter.

My opponent said that is the point. They shouldn’t ever say they are Bloggers. I asked him what qualifies to be a Blogger. He said, money, cool money and mad traffic. I asked, even if you have to lose your voice to get traffic? He answered,  ‘who the hell cares about voice’.  Get this traffic and join the Blogging clique.

Let me explain, this is what happens when a hobby blogger is gradually transitioning into career blogging. They are going to start fretting and prioritizing blog traffic, so much that it won’t have to matter how they get it.

If they ever want to feel among, feel like Bloggers and buy houses in Banana Island, they have to get this traffic and make the millions. Stay with me, I want plenty traffic and millions and I am going to get it because I am working towards that every single time there is an unfailing sun rise. Now, that you know that I want to buy house in Banana Island too, we can safely pick up.

In the quest for traffic, we all stumble on SEO and I tell you, so many of us have not been the same ever since then.  A taste of what search engine optimization can do for blog traffic can knock you off, make you lose your balance and totally steer you off course.

Hey, I don’t blame anyone. Nah. I don’t have the guts to come here to judge anyone who’s seen the way and walked in  it.  But let me see if I can give away all of what I want to drive at, right here, in the middle of this post. BALANCE. FIND YOUR BALANCE.

Why SEO really matters, actually

Some days ago, I wrote something on how to get massive traffic to your blog and I mentioned that the people you are sharing your blog link on whatsapp with may never get to click on it. I also said that it is not their fault.

Sharing your blog post on social media might not also bring to you all of the numbers that you need. Combine all of the traffic generation tactics you have learned and subsequently applied, chances are that some worked but not like you wanted until you optimized your blog and blog posts for search engines.

Your first SEO post did very well. It was on page 3 the first day you wrote it. In a week, it’s climbed up to page 1, spot 3. In one month, it’s already up on page 1, spot 1. This singular post has brought you a total of all of the traffic from other posts combined and you are wondering, what the heck have you been doing wasting time on silly stuff.

But this….

Your subsequent posts have since then been the result of thorough keyword research, putting keywords in the right places and publishing thoroughly optimized content for search engines. 5 out of 10 of your newest posts are now on page 1 of Google.

All these years of slaving to get traffic and finally, the answer is Search engine optimization? Wtf, sorry, wth! So you ditch your readers, ditch true blogging purpose and curse at blogging voice. I mean who cares anyway? The traffic is pouring in, some money is about to be made!

Only that

Your blog readers are losing interest. There is this vibe that your blog stood for and right now, it’s all gone, almost gone. It sucks but really, you don’t give a f**ck. Hey, wait o, I get it.

So, I said that this blog post is not going to be only for you. It is for me and you and everybody. Why? I have been there. Oh trust me, I have been there. It both worked and sucked for a while but gradually, I found my way back.

You know that SEO is killing your blog but really, it doesn’t matter anymore. You just want to hit your 1 million page views. Problem here is that that tiny bit of worry you have is more magnified in the hearts of your readers.

See what SEO has done to your blog:

Your posts are now very boring. They kind of don’t make plenty sense to your die-hard reader. Maybe a few sense, but not much. They don’t know why the repetition of some words and phrases are meaninglessly occurring, they just don’t feel it.  They don’t know why you are even writing on this topic, it’s just not that thing they long for. So,  yes, SEO is bringing other people but driving your evangelists away.

Funny thing also is that the people SEO is bringing are not even staying as long as you would wish them to stay. They are on your blog and in seconds are out. They aren’t even clicking on related posts, they just want to get out of your mechanical, robotic, so-called SEO post.

Wait, we can sort this out now.

Let’s get this SEO thing to stop ruining our blogs, shall we?

So, you should do SEO, yes, you should. Unless you are not bothered about the numbers, you should do SEO. I want to assume that you understand that what I have meant all the length of this post is on-site SEO. So, how do you strike this balance then? How do you keep your voice and still rank on search engines?

Heard of Cornerstone Content?

Let me explain. Cornerstone content are blog posts that you write to get the most traction from. They are usually very long, detailed, thorough and extremely rich. One of the most important reasons you are writing this cornerstone content is to rank very high.

These blog posts are like the foundation of your website or blog. If someone gets to land on your blog through these blog posts, they can have an idea of everything your blog stands for.

Let me put it in more practical terms yea?  So these blog posts are the ones you are specifically writing for search engines to drag people to your site. So you write these posts and get search engines to drag people to your site to come and read it and eventually read other posts.

It’s a case of, I want to be free to write other posts as I want to but there will be some posts I am going to specifically write to gain traffic from search engines and get people of the world to notice me, my blog and all of my other content.

The cornerstone content pieces are going to link to some other posts that will point readers around related posts under the segment of that blog. So many other blog posts will also point to these cornerstone pieces.

They are like the most important pieces on the blog after your home page and other main pages (about, contact, etc). After your cornerstone content is where you have other blog posts, in hierarchy.

This post by Yoast deeply explains everything you need to know about cornerstone content.

Write for readers first

When you have cleared your cornerstone content, you can be more relaxed enough for human friendly posts. Please don’t get me wrong, your cornerstone content should be reader friendly too, it’s just that you are bearing in mind that the main purpose of writing it is to allow both search engines to pick it up and help readers enjoy something very thorough and comprehensive. Gosh, I thought I already finished talking about cornerstone content o.

Let me try to get back on track right about now. Write your blog posts for your readers solely. Be as interesting as you would like to be. Engage, be funny, inform,   write as usual. When you are done writing with your blog reader in mind, go back in to optimize.

This is how to find that balance, fam. Go back in to insert keywords meaningfully, not in the spammy, careless and senseless manner. Create your headings, add your alt text to images, etc.

Semantic keywords will do the job

Semantic keywords are simply variations of a keyword. You can find these keywords at the bottom of a Google Search result page. When you search for something on Google, Google helps you generate other keywords people are searching for.

Another way to easily find other keywords people are typing into Google is installing Keywords Everywhere. It’s a Google chrome browser extension you can use to see other keywords and their search volume correspondingly.

Instead of having to repeat the keyword you are targeting over and over thereby making your overall article tasteless and boring, adding variations of a keyword will bring in spice.

Listen, search engine crawlers are smarter than you think and over the years, they are making them work more and more like humans. The artificial intelligence and algorithm system is becoming smarter by the year.

These search engines crawlers don’t need keywords meaninglessly crammed into their faces to have an idea of what the article means overall.

Social media might save you

Have you ever (because I have) wondered why some social media popular Bloggers have posts that are even though not intentionally optimized ranking on Google? These Bloggers, when they publish their blog posts, they receive a lot of views and countless shares so much that the traffic to these blog posts from social media is so immense that Google cannot ignore.

Listen, there are so many ranking factors that determine your visibility on search engines. This is why focusing on just keyword research and keyword density only isn’t the smartest thing to do. Domain authority, number of referring domains, keyword competition, page speed, content freshness, bounce rate etc. (more than 200 factors actually) will determine how fast and how well you rank on search engines.

Then, social media signals. If your article isn’t even optimized and it is shared so much that it goes viral, Google will be forced to rank it very high up their pages because these guys are all about relevance.

To have killer buzz and people constantly sharing and talking about an article or blog post is a signal to Google of how important it is, how much people like it and why they need to get it in the eyes of other people because it obviously satisfies people’s curiousity.

Now, here’s where there’s a ripple effect. After you have twisted Search engine’s arms into loving your content and blog through your vibrant social media signals and response, they get it up on their pages, people click more on it while it’s up on their pages. So you see, people love it and share it, Google ranks it and more people click on it from therein forever.

Social media buzz is just for a while, having your stuff on search engines is more lasting. I know, I know, that’s why you are so focused on SEO but you see how even social media plays the role?

And you know what, for people to get to like your content that much, they must have been smitten by what you have offered or been constantly offering them.

Here comes quality content again, it’s back here to haunt you. Satisfy your blog readers and watch them evangelize.

In conclusion,

Do not be so SEO focused so much that you forget your readers, your blogging purpose, your voice and your message.

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