So should I ignore it and just write?
Every time I write a blog post, I play the SEO game.
I’m fortunate enough to have a plug-in that tells me when I’ve checked enough items off my list to please the Google gods.
It can take anywhere from 10–30 minutes to get the coveted green light to come on. And when it does, I breathe a deep sigh of relief.
This isn’t what I got into the writing game for.
If you’re a writer, you see yourself as creative, right? You don’t want to be bogged down with a bunch of technical stuff that makes you feel like you’re in the middle of a huge desert and there’s no food, water, or lodging in sight for miles.
I hate feeling lost. But that’s why I got the SEO plugin.
The plugin is a time saver. It does for me what I have no interest in doing for myself. I know that I need to, so I do.
When I first started blogging a dozen years ago, I’m not sure Google was even a thing. It didn’t register on my radar much. If I wanted people to read my blog posts, I just asked them to.
Now, it’s easier … and harder to get noticed.
You can tell your friends on Facebook and get some readers. But if you want the world, you’ll need Google’s help.
Your persona is not a robot.
Writing experts tell us we need a persona to write to.
That’s a fancy term for a profile. It’s like creating a character for a story. You give them physical features, demographics, and quirks that resemble someone you probably know, or can at least see in your head.
You don’t write letters or emails or text messages to robots. Robots deliver those messages, but people are your target.
You probably don’t arrange a coffee date with your computer, do you?
I do this all the time. I’m an introvert. My creative space has room for my screen, my keyboard, and my coffee mug.
And there’s only one chair.
But seriously, if you set a date, it’s with someone else. You meet a person to hang out with. You have a conversation.
Writing is the written version of that conversation.
Or at least it should be — if you want people to read it.
Enter Google, Amazon, and every other search engine.
So why should you even care about how search engines work?
When you do, you’ll know more about why SEO is important. You may not like it any more than you did when you got here, but at least you might understand it better.
Let’s use a real-world analogy to explain what goes on.
Imagine you’re at a big auditorium. Maybe even a stadium. There’s an emcee on the main stage. He’s taking questions from audience members. Then he’s announcing them to everyone in the stadium.
It’s as if he’s saying, “I don’t have the answer to this. I need you. Who knows what to do here?”
The ones who are loudest, dressed flamboyantly, or pay to get the best seat get to answer first.
If you’ve watched football games, these are the people who sit in the front row, and paint their bodies the team colors. They carry handmade signs that spell a team cheer.
And then there are the people who pay to sit in the climate-controlled box seats and sip champagne and eat steak during the game. They get preference because they pay to be noticed and treated well.
That’s how search engines work.
Google doesn’t have the answers to your questions. They just point you to people who do.
Be one of those people.
Write for people and you’ll write for search engines.
If that sounds like technical heresy, let me explain.
People are using search engines.
They’re using words to do it.
As a writer, you have a huge advantage here. You use words to share your message.
To bring the two together — people and search engines — you’ve got to use the same words.
Okay, so now the question is, how do you know what words to use?
Google trends will tell you what’s popular now and yesterday. Tomorrow that information could be history that gives way to a new trend.
Meet some of the people you write for. Listen to hear what questions they’re asking. What problems do they want to solve? What struggle do they want to overcome? What pain do they want to just go away?
Figure that out, and the rest will take care of itself.
Go write something that solves an interesting problem for the people you serve.
Maybe I’ll see you on the front page of Google!