When you search-engine-optimize your blog posts, you can increase your blog's subscribers in a long-term way. You don't have to stiffen your prose to apply search engine optimization -- you just have to apply keywords in the right places.
For example, my post on "Technical Writing Careers -- Answering 13 Questions About Technical Writing Jobs" targeted searches for "technical writing careers."
I don't always search-engine-optimize my posts, but when I do, the post has a lot more hits. Ideally, I should search-engine-optimize all my posts.
I think we underestimate the importance of search engine optimization. I'd even say that SEO is one of the most important techniques for writing blog posts. For example, today I received an email from someone who wrote,
I found your website while searching "podcast" and "Technical Writing".
I was invisible to this reader until he found me in the search engines. Sure you have your regular readers who occasionally look at your RSS feed and visit your site. But 75% of the time, your visitors come from people searching for specific keywords using search engines. If you search-engine-optimize your blog posts, many more people will find you. Your readership will steadily increase. Neglect SEO and your posts only live until they pass from your blog's home page.
Right now, I have 1436 subscribers -- about 100 more subscribers than attendees at the last STC annual conference. Of course I've been blogging for two and a half years, and I have close to 500 posts. But I know applying the right keywords to my posts in a search-engine-optimized way has helped me attract as many readers as I have.
One plugin that helps is the WordPress All in One SEO pack plugin. It allows me to create a search-engine-optimized title for Google, and a different title for my readers.
In addition to that SEO plugin, I try to add the keywords as the first words in my title, as the first words in my first paragraph, and then mention the keywords about 6 times throughout the first 3 paragraphs. That's it.
Of course figuring out what the right keywords are (using a tool like Wordtracker) is another task, which I usually skip. It takes too long. I usually just ask myself how I would search for the topic and use that phrase.
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I'm a technical writer based in the California San Francisco Bay area. Topics I write about on this blog include technical writing, authoring and publishing tools, API documentation, tech comm trends, visual communication, technical writing career advice, information architecture and findability, developer documentation, and more. If you're a professional or aspiring technical writer, be sure to subscribe to email updates using the form above. You can learn more about me here.