When you’re writing a blog post, stop for a moment to ask:
Why is someone reading this blog post?
Are they a regular reader who devours all of your posts, in order, and knows you and your style well? Are they walking into Cheers?
Or are they hurriedly searching Google for an answer to a question, and they have no idea (or concern) of who you are? Are they running into McDonald’s for a fast meal?
A great way to understand the difference is to think about two popular – but very different – SQL Server bloggers:
- Pinal Dave’s blog SQLauthority.com
- Paul Randal’s blog at SQLskills.com
There’s nothing wrong with Cheers or McDonald’s.
They’re two different methods to become Internet famous, and they both work, but they both require an awareness of your audience.
If you’re building a McDonald’s blog, you can’t just optimize for search engines – you have to choose subject matter that will appeal to people who desperately need to solve a problem quickly. Pinal understands exactly how overworked, in-a-hurry people use the web: they Google for a command, and they need quick, easy-to-understand syntax examples. They don’t give a rip about your personality or your dog or your career.
If you’re building a Cheers blog, you can take the time to dive deeply into topics that take longer to understand. You can take the reader on a long journey and cultivate a relationship over time. When looking at Google Analytics, you’ll have much longer visitor time spent on page, but a lower visitor count. (That’s not a bad thing – both approaches have their pros and cons, and after all, you knew both of their names right away, right? So they’re both winning.)
One blog *post* can’t be both Cheers and McDonald’s.When it’s first published, that is.
And notice that I emphasized post.
My strategy is to write posts for my regular readers because they’re the ones who see my posts as soon as they come out. You people already know me well, and I don’t have to fill you in on my background or my motivation or the industry basic concepts.
Once a month, I go back and look at Google Analytics to see which of my posts are being discovered by searchers. If a post seems to have staying power, then I’ll flesh it out with more background information and change the tone so that it’s more search-friendly. At that point, my regulars have already read it, so I can turn the post from Cheers into McDonald’s.
If you read Pinal’s blog (and I do), you’ll notice that he’s using another diversification tactic: sponsored long-format guest posts. From time to time, other folks write longer posts that aren’t necessarily search-engine-friendly, but tell a longer story. This means his normal SEO-targeted posts still gather traction over time, but he’s also got new resources for those of us who like to follow his RSS feed regularly.
That’s hard work – but starting is easy.
You don’t have to build a big strategy – just make a decision about who you’re going to write for, regulars or hungry strangers. It’ll help improve your blog writing style tremendously.