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Bloggers can face what appears to be conflicting objectives.

They want to tell fresh stories.

At the same time, they can feel like a slave to the SEO master in the quest to bring in more readers through search engines.

My three cents –

Keep it simple.

No one expects you to be an SEO guru. Who wants to travel all the way to Mt. Sinai anyway?

If you write compelling content that fits under your blog’s macro topic, the relevance between content and keywords occurs naturally. That’s what resonates with search engines.

From my experience, the critical component lies in choosing the right keywords.

What are the phrases broad enough to tap a decent sized pool of potential readers but narrow enough that you have a fighting chance to show up high in the search listings?

I went through this experience myself last summer after realizing that search was contributing little to the audience.

I decided to focus on the primary phrase, “storytelling techniques.”

It wasn’t realistic that I could attach my blog to big terms like “storytelling” or “storyteller,” nor did these words capture what the blog is about (relevance).

Check out the top 10 keywords that brought folks to Ishmael’s Corner during the first half of 2010:

blogging seo

Now look at the top 10 keywords from Q4 2010:

blog keywords

In a relatively short period of time, the phrase “storytelling techniques” not only drove a sizable number of readers to the blog but the “right” readers (people interested in storytelling within a business context).

Side note: The traffic from “steve jobs son” comes from a content quirk. Needless to say, these folks end up sorely disappointed when they land on the blog. At least the phrase “lauren bacall” no longer shows up in the top 10 (talk about major disappointment).

I’m not saying to leave your content completely to chance.

After I write a given post, I go back through the content and look for places where I can insert my keywords within the natural flow of the narrative. I also look for places where I might hyperlink keywords to the outside world or within the blog (like the hyperlink above that goes to a relevant post on applying storytelling to corporate blogging).

Again, it’s a simple approach.

Certainly, there’s vast complexity to applying SEO to any online property.

But you can align your content with your keywords and not sacrifice the storytelling that underlies that content.

I’m looking forward to discussing this topic and others in my corporate blogging session at SoCon11 tomorrow.

Nothing like a little social media to prep for Super Bowl Sunday.


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