I’ve come to a fork in the road in my blogging life. Should I optimize this site, or should I just focus on content and let growth come organically?
Why ask this 3.5 years into the game? Check out the Top 4 search terms that brought people to ToughSledding in the past 12 months:
“fork in the road” (2,179) Say what? OK. It illustrates the power of well-known sayings and adages to drive search traffic. So maybe my SEO strategy should include posts filled with cliches and hackneyed phrases. I used “fork in the road” only once, when citing the wit and wisdom of Yogi Berra: “When you come to a fork in the road, take it.”
It’s a safe bet that no one who found me via “fork in the road” was remotely interested in PR. So I guess the experts are right: Page visits don’t mean much.
trust (1,533) This one is gratifying. After all, trust is the foundation of every relationship, and relationships are the foundation of effective public relations. But once again, most people who Google a term as general as “trust” probably aren’t looking for me or for a blog about PR. On the plus side, it tells me that I’m stressing a theme central to my teaching and the business.
ethics (1,473) Yeah. I’m smilin’ again, but what does it really mean? Without ethical behavior, it’s tough to build any sort of meaningful public relations program. We all know this, and I talk about it all the time. But “ethics” is a pretty abstract search term, and most who use it probably aren’t seeking enlightened conversation about PR.
tough sledding or toughsledding (760) No surprise here. But you have to wonder: Did people enter those words hoping to finding this blog, or were they researching the American idiom that means “difficult work.” I’d love to know, as I’m planning to shift to my own URL real soon. Should I use “toughsledding.com” or “billsledzik.com”? (I own both, and really would LOVE to hear your thoughts.)
For what it’s worth, the search term “bill sledzik” was used 209 times in the past year. I’m pretty sure those folks were lookin’ for me, as I think I’m the only one on the planet.
What to do about SEO? I’ve never been comfortable with the concept of SEO. It’s like having a wizard behind the curtain who’s trying to manipulate reality. But it’s clear that I would benefit from an SEO strategy. I wonder about the PR practitioners and students I didn’t reach because I never studied their info-seeking habits. I know SEO can be done ethically, and I know people who can advise me on this topic.
On the other hand, I don’t use this blog to market anything, so does it really matter? And I worry that once I know the magic search terms I’ll begin to select words, maybe even topics, solely for their potential to drive the stats. There’s nothing authentic about that. Nothing at all.
Still, I feel negligent that I’ve left my search traffic entirely to chance. To cite another overused saying: Hope is not a strategy.
So today I stand at a fork in the road. I wonder what Yogi Berra would do.