First published in the Fat Stacks email newsletter on March 16, 2020.
For those of you who love to write, what could be better than earning a living publishing a blog or website?
While I only write about 1% of the content these days on my niche sites, I still love seeing new content hit the homepage every morning at 6:15 am.
I preserve my writing energy for Fat Stacks.
Fat Stacks for me is where I have fun. For the articles I write I pay little attention to keyword research. It’s all about readers.
It makes it so much more fun. It really does.
I know I’m leaving money on the table, but at some point fun takes precedence.
This is NOT the case with my niche sites for the most part. I do publish content with no KW research behind it, but it’s only a small percentage. I have to target keywords because I like to eat and have a roof.
It’s a shame though.
I’d love to blame Google, but it’s not really Google’s fault. Google is a computer with parameters. We have to play ball within those parameters.
Yet, Google sometimes confuses me.
Take for instance John Mueller’s recent statement that “With regards to quality content, in general this is something where you as the site owner probably know a lot more about what is actually quality content for your specific kind of site”” [Source: Searchenginejournal.com].
While for a very few publishers this may be the case, generally speaking it’s not.
Quality content is that which gets ranked #1.
In reality, Google does dictate quality.
Suppose you have a 4,000 word, awesome article that covered everything on a specific topic but it ranks #9 in Google. Let’s say it gets 500 visits per month and earns you $12 per month.
Let’s assume a #1 ranking would net you 20,000 visitors per month earning you $480 per month.
If you were guaranteed to get spot #1 in Google if you made the article worse, would you?
Most people would.
I likely would.
So who really decides quality content?
For example, most in-depth articles, including reviews (especially reviews), drone on and on and on.
The classic starting section is “What is it?”
Followed by a pile of background information and other drivel I don’t care about.
When it comes to reviews, I want to know within seconds that the writer actually used it and what their thoughts are in 5 to 10 bullet points.
However, Google will not rank a good, succinct review #1 when there are long, boring 3,000 word reviews published.
It’s sad but true.
Which means publishers don’t dictate what’s quality. Google does.
Don’t be fooled.
I have the luxury to yammer on about anything on Fat Stacks and not target any keywords because I have an audience. I also have several revenue-producing niche sites.
By all means incorporate fun, thought-provoking, interesting articles on your site. I actually think it’s a good strategy, but I can tell you from Fat Stacks experience and from my other sites, that targeting keywords is still key for organic search traffic.
In order to rank, you need to beat the topic to death.
Which for me ruins the writing experience.
I actually like writing reviews, but prefer to do so my way which is getting to the heart of the matter and injecting a little fun or snark into it.
Take for instance, a recent review of a research service I published.
I may end up ranking that article for a short while because it’s a novel service without an affiliate program.
But mark my words, if/when they launch an affiliate program and the SEOs start publishing, my article will get punted to page 2 or 3 way behind those long “quality” reviews.
If you want to have fun, write for yourself and your audience.
If you want to eat, write for Google.
If you want to eat and have fun, do both.
P.S. The above is also why link building is still a popular strategy and a necessary one if you go after big keywords. Links matter for ranking. While natural links are best, not everyone has time for that. If you want traffic, you need to rank. Period.
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.
Hyperbole? Maybe, but go check it out to see what some readers say.
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.