SEO Is Optimisation. Build First, Then Optimise
People say, “when you start a site, make sure to get your SEO in order.”
I disagree, and in this article I’ll tell you why.
Let’s just get to it.
- SEO best practices change over time
- Your skill changes over time
- The goals of your site change over time
When you start out, you’re going to be pretty rubbish at SEO. Unless you’ve written for the web before, you probably won’t be good at that either. Also, if you’re committed to building a site that’ll last for years, then the site you have at the start won’t look like the site you have in five years’ time.
These aren’t insults and they’re not intended to put you off. When I started this site, I’d been writing online for several years and writing professionally for a couple. My old articles are still pretty rubbish. That said, they’re getting better due to what I’m writing about in this article.
Essentially, you don’t need to be and won’t be perfect as a writer when you start. You won’t be good at SEO either. A lot of bloggers make the mistake of trying to create perfect, traffic generating and potentially viral posts. They’ll spend ten hours creating a blog post and lining up all the SEO keywords and images and all that nonsense.
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What they should do is just write the article.
You Can Do SEO Optimisation After The Fact
I hate SEO. Keyword research bores me to tears, and the idea of going over my own posts and rewriting them isn’t exactly awe-inspiring either. So when it gets to writing these daily topics, the last thing I want to do is mess around with keyword research and then find a handful of relevant images and throw that all into the pot in addition to writing the article.
Luckily, I don’t have to.
Most people think that when they write a post and hit publish, that post has to stay the same forever. They’re wrong.
I routinely go back and edit posts. I edit them according to a few things that I can’t determine until after I’ve hit “Publish.”
- Will anyone actually read the thing? (Does it hold interest?)
- Is there potential to connect it to other things I’ve written about?
- Are there questions I could have answered but didn’t?
- Does it gain any traction on its own?
I’ve written posts that were throwaway posts but gained traction on their own. Sometimes I’ll log in to Google Analytics or my WordPress Dashboard and find I’m getting searches for keywords I never would have thought of.
How Do I Do SEO After The Fact?
When I login and see people are searching for a new keyword, I rank in the top 100 results (let’s say position 50 or so) and I’ve already done the hard work of writing a post that ranks, then it’s a lot easier to work on the SEO. It normally takes about ten minutes. I’ll do something like:
- Rename or upload a picture which contains the keyword in the caption/alt-text
- Use the keyword a couple more times in the article
- Use the keyword or a variant a couple of times in related articles and then link to the main article
- Maybe change the SEO Title or set up a second title using Headline Optimizer to see if it gets more engagement
There’ll be a couple more things that don’t come to mind, but because I’m not a fan of SEO, you know that it’s just tweaks and tricks for the most part. It doesn’t take long and it can push your site up from position 50 to a much higher position.
Sometimes I get the benefit of putting multiple keywords in a single article, or I’ll use a keyword research tool to get some related keywords. On a very rare occasion, I’ll write up another topic if I think I can do a better job.
Why Use This Approach?
Many bloggers disappear after twenty posts or less. You’ll see websites start up, there’ll be epic content once a week for a couple of months, and you’ll bookmark the site.
Then you’ll go back to it a few months later and it’ll be the same ten posts. Another few months and the domain has expired.
There are a ton of factors that contribute to this, but worrying about traction, traffic and SEO and all of those technical things definitely impact people’s perception.
They think that if they don’t get thousands of visitors in the first couple of months, it’s game over.
Realistically, you’re not going to get thousands of readers on a ten page website, no matter how well optimised it is.
On the other hand, if you have a hundred posts, you only need each one to get ten views a month for it to get a thousand views.
It’s a lot easier to get readers when you have a large body of material, and it’s a lot easier to do SEO when you have a large body of material. Added to that, SEO is more effective on a bigger site and with larger traffic. If I tweak a niche site for conversion rates, then maybe I’ll get a couple more conversions. If I do the same on an authority site with hundreds of visitors, then I’ll get a lot more conversions.
In any hobby, job or learning curve, the best thing to do is to get on with it and worry about the details at a later date.
When it comes to running a website, the “getting on with it” is definitely writing and creating great material.
The “worry about the details” is the SEO component.
You can always come back to SEO and any other optimisation for that matter. People say “start your lists from day one” and they say “concentrate on keyword competitiveness” and “build a social media brand” and all of those things.
But really, you can do all of those later and you won’t lose much. Sure, you might get a couple of subscribers if you have an email pop-up on your single blog post. But if your blog post is good, they’ll come back anyway.
All the while, you could be writing new material and bringing more people in.
Forget the details, concentrate on the stuff that matters. Build and then optimise. Not the other way around.