Forget SEO

SEO practices often seem like moving targets.I wouldn’t be much of a writer, especially a writer who tends to work with digital communications, if I didn’t have some understanding of SEO. I do have it. I’ve read books about SEO; I’ve made recommendations to clients about headings, subheadings, meta tags, titles, et cetera, et cetera; and I’ve learned about black and white hat SEO and long-tail keywords.

I have that background, but I tend to ignore it. I don’t care about gaming the system. Of course I want my content to be found, but I’m not going to write for a search engine or a search algorithm. I’m writing for myself, and I’m writing for others – both my audience and the people for whom I occasionally write. I use tags and categories, but I use them in order to make site navigation easier. That is the reason I use those things. It isn’t so that my site gets ranked higher even if that is one of the end results of using them.

When people ask me about SEO, I tell them not to worry about it. First worry about the writing. Write something of quality. Write something you would be proud to call your own. Write something that brings pleasure to you and to your reader. When you write in that way, you don’t have to worry about SEO. The SEO often takes care of itself because good writing employs synonyms and repeats key phrases and ideas. Once that piece has been written, you always can return to it and consider SEO. You can optimize your text but only – only – after you have dedicated yourself to writing something with staying power, with durability.

What do you think about SEO?

Photo: Sean MacEntee (CC BY 2.0)


  1. I had too much trouble understanding SEO and though a friend helped me understand it; I just couldn’t get my head around figuring it all out with the plugins and the words and making sure I land on Page 1 of the Google Search. Though it is important, I don’t really worry about it too much. I see that if I post regularly and get around well, people will come back to my blog. Also, content is important but I feel one must be confident about what they write and also work constantly on it. People will come by! 

    • Hajra  It does get confusing!Amen to your point about confidence and working constantly on one’s writing (any work for that matter).

  2. I agree completely with worrying about the quality of the writing more than if the search engines will pick up your content. If you are writing for results alone, on a website, then you are missing the purpose: writing with your audience in mind. The goal of website copy is to make it clear, easy and give the audience all the necessary information. SEO helps, but if you have good writing that isn’t spamming and the tags, headlines and body copy are consistent, the search engines will find them just fine.

    • DustBunnyMafia I haven’t been paying too much attention, but has the SEO furor subsided any? I know it was “it” maybe even a year ago. I still run into the mentality every so often. People seem to have been conditioned into believing that SEO is the magic pill or something.

      • Erin F. Industry-wide? I can’t tell you, but for my business? Yes, people have stopped asking about getting better rankings and have started asking (again) on getting a better site. Hopefully people will start to realize that if you provide great writing and a nice site (that caters your audience), you should have no trouble getting viewers as long as you let people know about the site.

  3. Writing great content should come before SEO – especially since the new Penquin and Panda changes that happened over on Google. You can always use SEO plug-ins like Yoast to help you out along the way too.

    • lisabuben290 I was laughing about some article that Google published because even they say not to focus on SEO quite as much anymore. Even so, it may take a while before the message spreads to the masses. :)Thanks for the comment!