This weekend I was on an “SEO Smackdown” panel at our local WordCamp Portland. Two of us were from the content side, while the other two panelists were SEO experts. My take on SEO is that writing compelling, interesting blog content that people will want to […]

SEO Smackdown PanelThis weekend I was on an “SEO Smackdown” panel at our local WordCamp Portland. Two of us were from the content side, while the other two panelists were SEO experts. My take on SEO is that writing compelling, interesting blog content that people will want to talk about and link to will get you around 95 percent of the way to good search engine rankings. If you don’t have great content, SEO is not going to be very useful for you. You might be able to do some SEO trickery to get people to your web site, but if they aren’t impressed by the content when they arrive, they won’t stick around long enough to have any impact.

Here are a few of the tips that were shared during the panel to help you write blog content that will help your search engine rankings with no knowledge of SEO techniques or web development required.

Write Great Titles

Keep in mind that you are writing titles for human beings, so your title should be catchy and convey the meaning of the post as a first priority. While you write the title, you should also be thinking about the keywords that people might want to use to find your content and make sure that you have included a keyword or two in the title. I’ll illustrate this with a couple of examples of good and bad titles.

  • Bad: Dawn’s Thoughts for March
  • Better: Analysis of Facebook and Twitter Demographics in March
  • Bad: Day 1 of LinuxCon
  • Better: Mobile Linux and Open Standards on Day 1 of LinuxCon

Write New and Interesting Content

Write content that people will want to link to and discuss. If you are rehashing the same stories as every other blogger, people are much less likely to read and respond to your content. Write posts that are new, fresh and unique with analysis and insight from your unique background and perspective. You can talk about a news story that other people are blogging about, but spend some time writing about your experiences and ideas that offer a different perspective than the rest of the crowd. Use research in new ways, interview interesting people, and talk about your experiences. By offering something new, people are much more likely to read your blog post and link to it, which is where the real SEO magic is found.

Include Personal Anecdotes

Nothing makes a post unique quite like personal anecdotes based on your experiences. I saw this first-hand when I started writing for WebWorkerDaily. I wrote what I thought was a brilliant post on using Yahoo Pipes and then I wrote a short, quick post about how I dread answering the question, “So, What Do You Do?” during the holidays when talking to non-technical family and friends. The “brilliant” post got a few comments and some traffic, but nothing like the short, personal story about how to answer that difficult question. Human beings read our blog posts, and personal stories resonate with people in a way that technical facts and figures never will.

These are just a few of my tips for writing content that people will enjoy reading and then link to, which generates better search engine rankings.

What are your tips for using content to improve your SEO?

Photo by Nathan Bergey, used under Creative Commons.

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  1. Cotton Rohrscheib Thursday, September 24, 2009

    I could not agree w/ you more! I have blogged several times in the past about how good content + social saturation of your content can trump SEO anyday.

    1. I don’t think there’s such thing as Great Blog Content vs. Search Engine Optimization. SEO is about getting traffic to your website through search engine results and that’s exactly what good content does.

  2. Generating good content with an eye on SEO sounds like a good combination.

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  5. Curtis Copeland Friday, September 25, 2009

    Without good content, sites should not place well in the “rankings”. Google is focused on giving people what they are looking for. SEO misused leads to increased web traffic – and frustrated visitors. Nice article!

  6. I definitely agree with Guy Kawasaki’s take on this one: If you write good content SEO will almost take care of itself. Google and the other search engines are really good at crawling your content and making sure it is discoverable by others :D

  7. Sometimes you don’t want people to stick around on your website, you want them to leave through your advertising. I guess it depends what you’re motivations are. If you’re in it to make money then good content isn’t as important as SEO. If you want to build a name for yourself and a following for your blog then it is essential (but there’s no reason you can’t have both).

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  9. Completely 100% agree with this Dawn – but I would go further and say that great content = great SEO. Creating content to help clients get traffic to their sites is my job and you would be amazed at how many companies operate websites that are incredibly thin on content that is searchable.

    So their site might have lots of product stuff, but lots of it might be in javascript or flash, or text is tied up in images and is not searchable.

    Makes sense to clarify that great content is SEARCHABLE content – not just whatever is sitting on your site looking pretty or in a clever animation.

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