When Blogging, Are You Writing for Readers or Writing for Google?


A digital content marketing guru recently told conference attendees that when we blog, we are writing for Google, not our blog’s actual audience.

If you bristled a bit at that statement, you’re not alone. I’m not writing for Google on this blog at all. I’m writing for you: my dear reader.

And I hope that with every post, you’ll come back and read what I have to say on the next day’s topic.

But a recent article in the Ocala Star Banner carries the delightful headline, “Sorry, no one is reading your blog.”

It just gives me a warm and fuzzy feeling reading that headline!

Dennis Zink talks about attending a conference in Denver in which content marketing expert Ryan Deiss made that statement. You can read what he had to say about three keys of predictable growth here.

Writing for Google or Writing for the Audience?

I still felt a bit insulted by the idea as I began thinking about it.

Over the past few years, I’ve certainly been working to optimize my content for Google. That means I’ve been working to perfect my SEO strategy.

SEO stands for “search engine optimization.” In a nutshell, SEO is the effort to make sure when someone searches something in Google, your page ranks high in search results.

SEO long ago became one of those terms everyone throws around without many having any clear idea of its meaning. So I try to give a quick, basic definition just to get everyone on the same page.

In any case, I don’t write content for Google, thank you very much.

I write content for me and for you.

I have to be passionate enough, or concerned enough, or bothered enough about something to want to write about it to begin with.

Once I find such a topic, I then work to craft a post that either informs or entertains. (And I hope I accomplish both at the same time.)

If I knew Google loved a certain subject area of content, but I wasn’t interested in writing anything about that subject, I wouldn’t.

Take that, Google!

I wouldn’t because I know that if I weren’t passionate about the subject matter, I probably couldn’t pull off a decent blog post about it.

I’d be doing me and I’d be doing you a disservice.

So I write about what I want to write about and hope as I do that I’m giving you something that is in some way useful.

I think most bloggers who consider their audience regularly are probably doing about the same thing.

On the other hand, we are sort of writing for Google.

When I decide on an SEO keyword or keyword phrase and work that phrase in, well, something changes.

I’m optimizing my content to make Google happy. So in a way, I’m making Google a kind of quality supervisor for my content.

I work in those keywords and make sure I’m using them often enough without using them too much. I’m adjusting the way I arrange the words to satisfy a search engine.

At the same time, I’m structuring the content so it reads well with those keywords in place.

So in a way, I guess I am writing for Google to an extent. I’m making sure it will “like” what I’ve written enough that it’ll show it to more people. Those people, though, are my audience, not Google.

It’s a double-edged sword. You write for your audience and hope they come back. You also write for Google to help that audience find you.

And with the amount of information that’s at everyone’s fingertips all the time, you have to do what you can to stand out.

I get the point of the article.

But I still think I’m writing primarily for the audience. And I hope that edge the audience has over Google is what keeps people coming back.

Anyone can write something that will help the search engines rank that content. But if it’s a horror to read, why would the writer expect anyone to ever return?

I look at blog writing as a compromise.

I’m writing to inform. I’m writing to entertain. And I’m writing to be read and enjoyed by a human audience.

While doing so, I’m writing in a manner that will help the search engine see and promote my content.

But I still care enough that I won’t intentionally write lousy copy just to impress Google.

If I had to choose between writing enjoyable, useful content and writing content to impress Google, I’d choose the former.

Every time.

Maybe that’s why this isn’t a million-dollar blog.

But even so, I think that’s the right choice to make.

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Patrick is a Christian with more than 29 years experience in professional writing, producing and marketing. His professional background also includes social media, reporting for broadcast television and the web, directing, videography and photography. He enjoys getting to know people over coffee and spending time with his dog.