Who cares about SEO? Who really wants to dig into content marketing and learn all those finicky little skills that will be obsolete in weeks when Google makes yet another change? Blog for yourself and stay true to your vision. You’ll gain a following and they’ll be entirely the people you want to have following your posts. You’re not trying to trick them, you’re not trying to target them with tailored content, no. You’re just speaking your mind and attracting the people who like what you have to say. Now, how can you focus on writing posts just for yourself?
For thousands of years, the novel has been one of the leading forms of written communication. Why is the web any different? Novels don’t cater to children with bright, bold subheadings every three sentences. They only use bold formatting for key points when they’re aimed at ages 1-4. Plus, pictures? Bah. Your blog isn’t some kind of golden book, it’s a serious expression of your thoughts and opinions.
Strip it all, throw it out. Subheadings aren’t for you. They encourage readers to skim through your content and ignore what you actually have to say. Don’t bother with bold, all it does is distract from the true purpose of your prose. Every word is important; don’t do anything that pushes users to skip over any of it.
Besides, a huge block of text is visually impressive. For a deeper impact, use center justification so both sides are straight vertical lines. If there’s anything to break up that wall, it had better be paragraph indentations, nothing more. Oh, and don’t even think about coloring your text anything other than black on a white background.
You’re putting a lot of work into your content. You’re doing all the research, so your readers can trust you. They don’t need to go out and look for independent verification, you’ve done the legwork. You’ve poured your heart and soul into every word, and every word is what you want users to read. Don’t do anything that distracts them, like link to other posts. This isn’t some choose your own adventure blog where you can jump from page to page, skipping pages as you please.
After all, if you want readers to read something else on your blog, you’ll point them to it when you’re good and ready; once they’re done reading the post they’re already on. A single link to the next post in line is all you need, like turning the page and seeing the next chapter.
God forbid you ever link out to another website. That’s just a plain bad idea. If someone is reading your novel, the last thing you want is for them to put it down and go read a different one. All those other blogs? They’re the competition. There are a finite number of people in the world. Among those, only a percentage of them read English. Of these readers, only a few of them are going to be interested in your thoughts and opinions. There are only so many waking hours in every day; those readers only have a small amount of time to read blog posts. Never, ever do anything that tells them they should read something other than your content.
Facebook is a distraction. Google+ is a thin excuse for a megacorporation to pander to the Facebook audience and try to scrape them away for its own profit. Twitter is literally for the birds, and revels in it. Don’t bother with any of them. Why would you want to waste time playing Candy Crush when you could be writing the next great American blog post? Your readers expect well thought out, cohesive posts, and those don’t just fall from the sky. They take time, time you don’t have if you’re playing around on social media.
You know what’s even worse than trying to use social media yourself? Distracting readers by linking to social media on your posts. Those little Facebook+ and Twittergram buttons that hover along the side of a post? They just annoy readers. Any clicks, any shares you actually get are just sympathy or a vain attempt to get the floaty bar to go away.
Forums and other little web communities are even worse. Inevitably, they’re nothing more than little cliques, worse than high schools. At best, they serve as the occasional source for some research or an example to use when you need a negative metaphor.
Okay, it’s time to come clean. You’re not blogging just out of the kindness of your heart. You have opinions, and you want to present them, but that’s really secondary to the main purpose of your blog; selling your stuff. Maybe you’re selling a product, or a selection of products. Maybe you’re a software coder and you’ve developed an app or some plugin you want to sell. Maybe you’re not even really selling anything, you’re just linking to affiliate products to get that sweet referral cash. It doesn’t matter, really; the point is, the people you bring in to your blog are the people who will buy your products.
They’re already here, and you’ve made sure they have nothing to do but read your content. Time to make that content work for you. You can, at the very least, add a product recommendation to the end of your post. Who cares if it had anything to do with the rest of your post? Your audience is captive.
If that worked, take it to the next level. Write a few posts that are nothing but promotion. Go over your product in great detail, how it can help your readers with their problems and how it’s a perfectly reasonable cost for such a benefit. You might even allow yourself an in-text link to the shop page, just to make sure they know where it is.
Headlines are just big distractions at the top of your post. Just take a trip to the nearest bookstore; how many books have titles like “15,000 Ways to Spice Up Your Breakfast Pancakes?” None! Some of the most successful books have short, boring titles. Really, who cares about the title of a book like 50 Shades of Grey? If people judged content by its title, no one would pick up a title like that.
Your blog works the same way. The title is a distraction. Keep it short, keep it unobtrusive and keep it generic. It’s a necessary evil, but you can get past it quickly and get right to the content. Your users will thank you for it.