How not to write blog articles

I don't know if it's because I am a full-time professional SEO type, or because I am just a picky person (ha - bite your tongues), but when I see a series of articles looking suspiciously spammy - even though their content seems intended for human readers, red flags are raised in my mind.

With the proliferation of blogging, and the emerging dominance of WordPress as the blogging tool of choice, a LOT of attention has been paid to either monetizing blogs or taking steps to optimize your blog or blog articles to rank higher in search engines. Therefore, for the most part I ignore those blogs that have articles not written for human visitors - but there is one instance I am having a large amount of difficulty looking past.

Some Background:

I have been using WordPress since before it was WordPress, back in the good old b2/Cafelog days when Michel Valdrighi suddenly disappeared from the radar and the project was taken up and forked by some young upstarts named Matt Mullenweg and Mike Little.

Along the way, with the growth of WordPress.org et.al, a prolific word smith named Lorelle VanFossen, a person with obviously WAY too much time on her hands typed her way into a sort of support evangelist role as part of the WordPress community. I have no doubt that Lorelle has helped 10's if not 100's of people with WordPress related issues - lucky her for obviously having the free time to be able to do so.

I also have no doubt that she fully buys into her own vision of herself as a wealth of experience and knowledge. However, knowledge without the tempering of wisdom and ability can manifest itself in ways one cannot see with their own eyes. It's a pity that for all her "experience" her blog design is stuck in the 90's.

"A little learning is a dangerous thing; drink deep, or taste not the Pierian spring: there shallow draughts intoxicate the brain, and drinking largely sobers us again."
- Alexander Pope (1688 - 1744) An Essay on Criticism, 1709

My Gripe

For her prolific writing, Lorelle landed a writing gig on a pretty good blog-focussed website BlogHerald. As part of this gig, Lorelle authors a recurring article called 'WordPress Wednesday' where she highlights the happenings and goings-on inside the world of WordPress and WordPress.com.

Now, it doesn't take a rocket scientist, let alone an SEO Analyst - nor even your average web-savvy reader to notice that when you start looking or reading these particular articles that something is not quite right. Try reading the following articles without getting completely tripped up in the stupid number of times the word WordPress is used. You can't even make sense of the titles, let alone the articles.

If this was how Lorelle wrote all of her articles then I would probably be a little bit more tolerant, forgive her for being inherently stupid when it comes to writing for the web, but that's not the case. This overt saturation of a single term only appears to occur in these posts. Note how her other articles are constructed almost is if by a different person:
http://www.blogherald.com/2008/05/29/have-you-helped-someone-today/
http://www.blogherald.com/2008/05/20/is-it-the-responsibility-of-a-blogger-to-set-a-standard/

I called her out on this in one particular article last month, where in a comment I raised this as a question of gaming for SERP for the term WordPress, and she gave this lame answer in response:

@seriocomic:

What are you saying? That you can count? That you didn’t know WordPress is spelled with a capital letter in the middle in compliance with the respect for their trademark? Okay, so I’m kidding back at you.

A Plugin’s proper name is WordPress Plugin. If I’m talking about WordPress News, I write that. If it is news in general, go see CNN or BBC. This is an article about WordPress news. It’s not for SEO games. However, it occurs to me that you’ve given me a challenge to see how many WordPress times I can get WordPress into this WordPress comment. :D

Sometimes, the use of a word in an article or blog post is appropriately used. No ulterior motives. I’ve been doing this for a very long time and helped write the guidelines for the WordPress Codex and technical guides, so trust me, each usage was appropriate and accurate, but thanks for paying attention to the details.

If you look at my comment you will note that I gave some statistics for that article relating to keyword density for the term 'WordPress'. To be clear - I am not that anal that I counted and tabulated those figures - it was a simple copy and paste from the Firefox Addon called SearchStatus - but I digress.

If you can justify that level of keyword repetition with regards to how people want to read and process an article then I will retract everything I say and stick to taking photos. There is no justification, other than for Search Engine manipulation, otherwise she would have written those articles they way she writes the rest of them.

The Irony

In fact, Lorelle herself, in another BlogHerald article, ironically espouses how you should 'Never write for search engines'. On top of that she states:

Any search engine page ranking success I’ve had is due to experience and common sense. No games. I hate the games.

Did I mention irony? Can she expect anyone to believe that spamming a keyword in a single article title 4 times, header text 14 times, inside links 134 times and using it inside emphasis tags (bold etc) 46 times is NOT writing for search engines!? Pluuu-ese!

This raises the question - why? Is it to benefit Blog Herald? Is she getting a cut of the advertising? Is it to prove a point or win a bet? The one reason I am very certain of - it's not to benefit the reader of the article.

So if you want to piss off your readers, follow Lorelle's WordPress examples. However, in my opinion - this is not how to write blog articles.

One Comment

  1. Hmm…it’s interesting really. I’m new to blogging, not reading blogs, but blogging. I can see the marketing side that Lorelle is taking (not just search engine effectiveness). I’m sure it works but I’m with you…her messaging gets lost by the overuse of a particular word.

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