The focus on search engine optimization in blogging is a distraction.
For the Project Blogger competition, I've actually told Julie Ferenzi to stop thinking about it. She was becoming a little fixated on the search engines finding her and was spending a lot of time reading about how to get good search engine placement. It didn't surprise me.
SEO tends to dominate discussions about the benefits of blogging and it shouldn't. Don't get me wrong, I'm a geek. (Did I say that out loud?) I like the "science" of SEO. I read as much as I can on the topic. It helps keep Alzheimer's at bay. So I know it plays a role in a blogs success. I'm not saying SEO isn't important. I'm just quite certain that all too often it's prominence in our conversations leads us away from the meat of the issue. Successful blogging, in the long run, has nothing to do with search engines or the bots they send out each night to scrape our sites.
Focusing so much on SEO seems like a good deal of overkill anyway. A good blog platform, like Wordpress, does most of the SEO heavy lifting for you. Use a blog platform like WordPress and consistently write a lot of original text about your topics and search engines will like you. Let me say that agin... write good content, make sure you are talking about what you want to be found for, do it consistently, do it frequently, and the search engines will find you. I know that's over simplifying things a quite a bit, but it's not far from pure fact.
Case in point: Julie hasn't been writing that long, but today if you search on family activities in plainfield, il, her not very populated Living In Plainfied, Illinois blog comes up as the number 2 unpaid link. If she doesn't continue to write consistently, it won't stay that way. But her blog is already working for her, without really focusing on SEO.
Besides, I'm not sure the way SEO works today will be the way it works tomorrow. And if everyone starts blogging it may become harder and harder to get consistently good SEO position. So, I'll say it again, in the long run, success in blogging has nothing to do with search engines. It has everything to do with relationships and seeing your blog as a way to enhance and add value to those relationships.
Relationships won't be impacted by changes in how Google ranks pages.
So, as we officially kick off Project Blogger, allow me introduce a new acronym into the discussion: YEO
YEO: You Engaging Others.
If you want to be successful in blogging, you need to understand how to engage others in every aspect of the blogging experience.
Where Engagement Begins
Of course content is important, but it has to go beyond that. And it starts before you begin to write a single word. .
You live in the area you write about. So it's the people that really matter. The relationships you develop as you go out and meet the folks at the new home sites, at local businesses, at association meetings and anywhere else you choose to focus your writing, those real, live human beings are your ultimate target. Why wait for them to find you in a search?
Introduce Yourself & Your Blog
Before you write a single word, make sure you introduce yourself, tell the people who are associated with your post that will be writing about them. Explain why. Explain the purpose of your blog and why people want to read it and why you think people will be interested in them, their business or their mission. Ask if you can quote them. Take their picture. More often than not, they'll be more than willing to talk to you and share information you may not be able to obtain any other way.
Harness The Power Of Their Relationships
Obtain their email address and phone number, then send them the link to your post. Be sure to use their name in the posts and a photo if you took one. Most people don't get to see their name in print very often, so it's a big deal to be written about by someone else. They WILL remember you for that. Here's something else they will do, they'll forward the link to friends, family and business associates. You extend your reach virally. And you don't have to just depend on someone finding the story on Google to make it happen.
That's the point. Other people know other people. Connect with them and they'll connect you. This works whether you're writing about a local restaurant or whether you're writing about a historic building. Put the focus on them. If you engage the people behind the stories, the chance that they will actively participate in your success, in spreading the story, go up dramatically.
Follow Up... But Not Via The Internet
I'm an internet junkie. I love all the gadgets and goodies and ideas. But nothing replaces a telephone call, a handwritten note or a personal follow up visit to say "thank you." Treating them like your customer before they're your customer. Show them, by your actions, how you would work with anyone they might consider referring. If you can execute on the actions around writing the post, engage them and keep them informed, they will rightly assume you'd do the same thing in a real estate transaction.
Meet the people behind the stories and they'll be happy to share. Share the stories with them and they'll share them with their friends and business associates. Go out of your way to treat them with respect and those same friends and business associates will hear about that as well. Your actions will do all your evangelizing for you.
SEO is great, YEO is better.
You Engaging Others. That's what this is really about.