Back when I was just starting out with niche sites and blogs I never gave any thought to the more nuanced issues such as first vs third person in content. It never occurred to me that point of view (first or third person) mattered. I’ve learned a’plenty over the years and these days these questions do matter to me.
My current default instructions to all writers is to write in the first person.
What is the first-person point of view?
When you see “I” as the point of view throughout an article, that is first person. This blog post is written in the first person. I’m telling you what I believe to be the best point of view for website content. “We”, “us” and “our” are also first person (plural first person).
Why do I prefer blog content (i.e. niche website articles) in the first person?
First-person adds a personal touch to articles. I like personable articles. When I read website content I prefer most of it in the first person; it gives me a sense that I’m reading something penned by an individual rather than some corporate-generated article. For me, it comes across as more credible.
This might explain why I like first-person shooter video games. Haha, I’m just kidding… there’s likely no connection (but I do like first-person shooter games).
Is first-person point of view better for SEO?
No. There’s no evidence that I’ve come across that first-person point of view gives an article an advantage ranking in Google search. Most of my older outsourced content across my sites is third person and plenty of it ranks just fine.
Is “we” or “I” better?
“We” is plural first person. “I” is singular first person. I used to do more plural first person. Maybe it was a subconscious effort to come across as a bigger entity than I was. These days, I prefer singular. That said, one of my best writers pens in the plural first person. I’m totally fine with it. I err on giving capable in-house writers plenty of latitude on how they write and what they write. I hired them to write and assuming they’re good writers (which they are if I keep them on), I want them to write articles more or less unfettered. I want their opinions. I want their research. I want their style and voice.
That said, I do instruct all writers on some of the basic on-page SEO concepts that are important such as linking out to related articles, liberal use of heading tags (h2, h3, etc.), bullet points, bolding, shorter paragraphs, etc.
But when it comes to plural vs. singular first-person point of view, I leave it to them.
Should all content on a blog be the same point of view?
No, not at all. I have a mix of first and third-person articles. Most of my recent content is first person but now and then a topic is better suited for third person. Something technical for instance could be better presented in the third person. For example, I publish many tutorials on one niche site and those are done in the third person. They’re instructional. The steps are more factual. In these cases I prefer the third person approach.
Another example of content that is better in the third person is news. News should be presented as objective which is done best in the third person. I don’t publish news so it’s not an issue for me but if I did, I’d instruct writers to write it in the third person.
Back in the day of newspapers, it was a mix of first and third person. The news was in third person. The editorials/opinion columns first person. There’s no reason blogs and niche sites shouldn’t be published similarly.
What about influencer style blogs – should all content be in the first person?
Probably just because influencer blogs, which revolves around a single personality or person, makes much more sense to be in the first person. Fat Stacks is a good example. I write most of the content here. Everything I write is in singular first person. Most visitors, especially folks who read this site regularly want to read what I have to say. It’s not the information on its own they want; it’s the fact that the information is provided by me.
Now before you start thinking that I’m being arrogant saying such a thing, let me explain. After all, I’m a reader of many other websites in the “how to blog” space and so I know this to be true. Information on its own is almost meaningless. The source of it matters tremendously. For example, there aren’t too many courses on blogging that offer anything unique. What makes courses valuable is the fact that what is taught is proven to work by the course creator.
I’m not the only niche site publisher who targets low competition keywords, publishes a high volume of content and doesn’t bother with link building. There are many of us who do it successfully. However, because I earn a living with this publishing model, folks take notice and they want to know exactly how I go about it. How I go about it isn’t all that special but the fact that I’ve made it work makes it special.
I’m not a big YouTuber but if I wanted to get big into YouTube, I’d be more persuaded by someone teaching YouTube earning $100K per month than someone earning $1,000 per month even if they both taught the exact same method and steps. Yes, source of the information is very important and that’s where first person can be more compelling.
This extends into most other niches, not just the “how to blog” or “how to become a successful Youtuber” niches. I’m partial to lifestyle niches and it definitely extends to those niches. For example, I have a fairly successful fashion site. Much of fashion is opinion. Most of the articles are in the first person because it is an opinion.
Contrast that with a “how do you do x” article in the automotive niche. For example, “how do you turn on seat warmers in a 2022 Dodge Ram 1500?”. There’s no opinion involved. It’s purely factual. That article would be well served in the third person. Nobody cares who wrote it as long as the steps laid out work.
It boils down to personal preference
Don’t overthink this issue at all. It really boils down to personal preference. Maybe you don’t like large sites and articles written in the first person. Perhaps you believe it cheapens or compromises the article. I get how one could have that opinion. If that’s the case for you, then by all means publish all content in the third person.
I publish websites that I would like to visit
Many decisions I make in how I go about publishing my niche sites are based on what I prefer as a visitor to other sites. Sure, I do things I don’t like such as put ads on the site and some email sign-up popups but I gotta eat. For the rest of it, I often base my decisions on what I like in a website.
Jon runs the place around here. He pontificates about launching and growing online publishing businesses, aka blogs that make a few bucks. His pride and joy is the email newsletter he publishes.
In all seriousness, Jon is the founder and owner of a digital media company that publishes a variety of web properties visited and beloved by millions of readers monthly. Fatstacks is where he shares a glimpse into his digital publishing business.