Coming to Grips with SEO and Well-Meant Advice

Over the past few weeks, I’ve really been struggling with writing for my blog.

The combination of the everlasting winter and the everlasting knee replacement rehab certainly contributes to my Debby-downerism, but it’s more than that.

On one hand, all the SEO tips and blogging experts tell me that I need to focus on one area and write compelling content about that area.

On the other hand, the reason I started blogging was to write about what was on my mind and to share information and visuals that I thought people might be interested to see.

I took the advice of the blogging experts and spent the last year trying to pare down my topics.

I’ve written primarily about food and home decor, as well as doing restaurant reviews. I’ve loved learning how to photograph my tablescapes and both Music Man and I have enjoyed having a pretty table set up every week. While not totally focused on one subject, I’ve developed a nice following of new blogging friends who like restaurants, dishes, and recipes. I’ve really appreciated their commitment to commenting regularly — it makes me happy to know that people are enjoying my work.

But what about the rest of me? I’m a well-rounded person, in all senses of the phrase.

Since I do watch my SEO pretty closely, I know that tablescapes and travel-related posts continue to be very popular. People seem to relate well to my stories about England and France and the monarchies of these countries. Compelling stories, indeed!

But in the middle of all my tablescaping, and pretty much out of the blue, two different people contacted me about areas of my blog that I’ve mostly abandoned, book reviews and writing about retirement. One of them was an author who wanted to write about Louisa May Alcott for my blog — remember when I wrote about my fascination with LMA and her family and tried to do a book challenge? The other was a representative from a web site who wanted me to write an article about retirement. She found me through my now-defunct blog called Retirement 365 that I started in 2012 and abandoned about three-quarters of the way through the first year of retirement.

I feel as though the things that I used to write about (and still care about) have taken second place to a desire to improve my search engine positioning and my number of hits. And it’s made me sad.

So, my dear friends, I’m going back to my happy place where I might post a tablescape during a week, and I might not. I might do a book review or two, but I might not. I might post a new recipe that Music Man and I have enjoyed, but I might not. What I will do is write about what makes me happy, and occasionally, I’ll write about something that makes me mad. I’ll continue to share my family stories; after all, who am I without my family?

Contrary to advice from social media gurus,Β I’d also like to suggest that you sign up to follow me via email. I know that our email accounts are filled up with stuff we would rather not have to plow through, but it’s the easiest way to ensure delivery of our favorite blogs. I’m signed up with Facebook and Bloglovin’ Β and I think there might be a future for Google + if we all participate in it. I will continue to feed to all three places, but I personally prefer delivery to my email account. You might want to try it, too.

I hope you’ll stick around for the ride — my blogging train is going to have a few more sidings on it.


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19 thoughts on “Coming to Grips with SEO and Well-Meant Advice

  1. Good for you, Jennie! I’m all over the place with my blog, too. It’s about vintage, but it’s also about home decor, two different niches really. Plus I throw in history when I have time to do the research (which is hardly ever.) I think the more you cover the more readers you can bring in, so I think you’re on the right track. Best of luck to you!

  2. Jennie, I follow you on Feedly so I won’t miss a post. I look forward to your writing, whatever the topic! Thanks for the links to your other blogs. I’m preparing for retirement (in a couple of years, I hope), so that topic is of particular interest.

  3. Jennie – I follow you via e-mail and find it very convenient. I love all your posts and prefer variety, so this is good news for me! Good luck!

  4. Jennie, I can relate! I try to emphasize curtains, since that’s part of my blog handle, but I have so many other interests! We have a great example with Susan at BNOTP. She does all sorts of things – and well. I know what they say about SEO, but in the end, we have to be true to who we are and who we want to speak to. Personally, my favorite posts are when bloggers express themselves and their lives in a personal way. (Like this one!) God made us different for a reason, and part of the fun of life is getting to know others and appreciating them for who they are. I get your posts through email. I only do that with a few due to time constraints, but I’ve arranged to receive all posts once every week for several of my faves. Monday mornings are my “lazy” mornings to sit and catch up on what many are up to – a great way to start the week. I see so much in you to appreciate through your blog. Go for it, friend ~ kick it up a notch! πŸ™‚

    • I’m sorry, I didn’t mean only Susan. There are many. I was using her as an example – the first one who came to mind. πŸ™‚

  5. You do what makes YOU happy….SEO can be a good thing, but like everything else….it’s not the only “key to success”…..Happiness equals success, so god for you and stick to what makes you feel good!

  6. Jennie:

    Absolutely — you’ve got to go with what feels good. You’re not reporting to anyone but yourself now. This has stymied me, too, in the past 6 months — what to write about if I can’t write about something travel-related? So I don’t write. And a writer has to write. What I did was create three different Facebook pages: under my name, Up at the Villa, and Pickering House. I’m going a little crazy. Sometimes the postings link, sometimes they don’t — I’m too old to know how to stop this and much too old to care! Sometimes I think SEO stands for “slowly eliminating oldsters” . . . Screw it — do what you want!


  7. I agree with everyone else! You have to write about what you want. I mean sure it helps to have a main focus, but no one only ever has one thing that interests them, so in providing variety you keep us interested! I added a couple of random posts a month about other things in my life and I seriously enjoy writing those and they provide a brief reprieve from the regular day-to-day of my blog!

    I also somehow missed your LMA obsession! I’m hoping to run the 10k that benefits the Orchard House this coming year. I can’t wait to go check it out. Did you ever read Geraldine Brooks’ March? It was phenomenal.

  8. Follow your muse! I love to read about all your life experiences and enjoy your literary expression and tablescapes.

  9. OK, I’m going to stick my neck out here and admit that I don’t have a clue what you’re talking about. Who or what is SEO? I’m not familiar at all. I guess I just let my husband worry about all the technical stuff. He sits down to the computer for a bit, clicks around on it awhile, and then tells me it’s all mine again. I don’t know if ignorance is bliss or not in this situation, because now you have me a little concerned. I’m going to have to ask him about SEO so I’ll be in the loop!

    As for writing what you love in this life, I say go for it with all the gusto you can muster. Blogs are first and foremost about putting out there what YOU want to reveal to the world. It’s kind of like a diary to which anyone who wishes to do so has privy. It’s a sneak peek into your world, into your thoughts, your dreams, your inspirations, your adventures. It is NOT meant to be an outlet for a singular notion if that’s not your thing. People who are interested in food will hit you up for the food posts. People interested in dishes will come round for those posts. People who enjoy travel will – if they can ever light long enough in one spot! – enjoy your posts on travel adventures. You have a wide forum to address, and just as long as the enthusiasm for each is balanced, I don’t think your readers lose in any way.

    I sign up to every blog that allows it by email, yours included. It’s MUCH easier for me to go into my dedicated email account and browse through posts than it is for me to wander all over the place looking for Bloglovin’, etc.

    I’m sleepy. Gonna hit the hay. Have a great weekend, and maybe by next week I’ll have a clue. πŸ™‚

  10. I’m with Alycia, I have no idea what SEO is either but I do know that I like you and your writing and I appreciate when you blog about your travels a great deal. When I retire I want to reread all of the books that I have loved through the years and I want to fall in love with many more that I have not read. If you don’t mind I would like to tag along you and broaden my literary horizons too.

    I can’t do a new tablescape every week because I do have a whole other life that I lead. I cannot give up all of my other loves for just one love. That would be like asking me to decide on which one of my children I would like to keep. It’s just silly to give up one thing to cater to another. I will tell you now that I cannot read every blog every day, I am just not interested in all things at all times, but I do always come back to visit when I genuinely enjoy the writing.

  11. OK, I looked SEO up……..Search Engine Optimization. I just want my kids and friends to check out my blog once and awhile. Everything else is gravy. I do really love creating things, and I love to share so blogging is a great outlet for me.

  12. I think you have to decide if you want to do this as a business (to kind of replace your now retired -from career)–or if you want to do your blog as an artistic outlet/ labor of love to fill in some of the hours you no longer are obligated to spend at your career. One view is outward focused and one is inward focused. Both are legit reasons to blog. Have you made that distinction, Jennie? In any case, best to you.

  13. Good for you Jennie! As a newish blogger, I know how hard it is to find that balance of subjects that are popular and subjects you are passionate about (that might not be as popular). I agree that you need to do what makes you happy. Best of luck. πŸ™‚

    • Thanks, Kristi! I’m having more fun now that I’m not married to a schedule and always trying to satisfy a particular audience.

  14. I hate SEO πŸ™‚ I obsessed about it for about 6 months and then decided that letting Google rule my life wasn’t worth it. There are so many things that go into having a good blog that it’s impossible to focus on everything. I don’t work on my SEO now and my blog is doing just fine πŸ™‚ I love your blog the way it is, don’t stress about the numbers etc. Having loyal readers is just as important as how Google reads your site. Just keep writing what you love and you’ll be fine!

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