3 Feb 2022

Keep writing anyway

I’ve been poking fun at SEOs that post contextless Google Search Console graphs on LinkedIn to demonstrate their authority and achievement. Congrats, you have pages that are indexable and they’ve been crawled and indexed!

And now I’m about to be a hypocrite and do the same. Well, not quite. I have a reason and ironically, it isn’t SEO related.

For me, a major contributing factor in becoming an SEO was blogging. I’ve been doing it for 14 years this year and it has got me to where I am today. But I try to do less SEO in my spare time. I call it LESSEO. It means I still care to use an SEO plugin to deal with metadata, sitemaps, and Schema. But I don’t write optimised content and certainly don’t care about meta title lengths. Why? Because I spend 8 hours a day, 5 days a week doing it for clients and any affiliate commission I get from links is so small, I couldn’t even afford a chocolate bar off it (the Milky Bars are not on me).

But sometimes I do make an effort. An example is an article I wrote about 10 hippos in cartoons, literature and other media. I thought it was a good piece and could rank for whichever term I think I was targeting. But it got little-to-no traffic. But I wrote it properly this time! Eventually, I gave up on doing that again as it took too long and I knew writing with SEO in mind would put me off updating the site altogether. I am only one man with a few hours spare in the evening. It’s quick musings or nothing. Hence, LESSEO.

And then, something strange happened.

The article started picking up traffic over two years later. The term driving the most traffic was “famous hippo characters”. That might have been what I was targeting all those months ago. What the hell happened? Why was there suddenly impressions and clicks? I’ve not looked into any trends but I was surprised. And then I figured I’d change the title to target that term since “10 hippos in cartoons, literature and other media” wasn’t quite right.

And here’s that graph.

A Google Search Console graph of eventual growth after 2 and a bit years

Impressive numbers they aren’t and normally, I’d say nothing to write home about. But I’m pretty chuffed because it showed that even though nobody visited it then, they’re visiting it now and that shows two things about blogging and SEO that I’ve learnt over the years:

  1. This stuff takes time

It’s almost a cliché to say “SEO takes time” but people still think if you publish an indexable page, it’ll get indexed straight away, rank highly straight away, and get lots of traffic straight away and that’s never guaranteed. It can be difficult to explain that to clients without beads of sweat dripping onto your keyboard (depending on how challenging your comms are) but it’s true. That’s why you have to have faith in your ability. You’ll know if the content is good enough. Besides, you can’t pin your strategy on one page (sorry, I’m writing that to remind myself, not for anyone else to read).

  1. Keep writing anyway

I could have completely given up on writing anything after the hippo blog didn’t gain traction. Of course, there were numerous factors as to why it didn’t in the first place and I knew that at the time. But if the last 14 years have taught me anything, it’s keep on writing. Even after the seeds of doubt were sown in my mind along the way, I kept going (albeit at a reduced rate). It’s not about whether anyone read it. It’s about the fact that I want to write it and I enjoy doing it. This is all for me. The fact I care less about SEO and still get indexed, still rank, still get visibility, and sometimes get on the first page for a cluster of 10-100 search volume keywords is wild to me, even if I only get a few clicks a month. Those are bonuses. I keep writing anyway.

So there’s the context. It won’t win me loads of claps and thumbs up on LinkedIn but it’s cool to me so I’ll give myself a round of applause and a thumbs up in the mirror later.