You may have heard from search engine specialists that you should blog to improve your search engine ranking.
Do they never learn?
The best and only reason to blog is to communicate with your users. Users who may be your customers, your potential customers, your sponsors, your readers, your constituency, or one of any number of audiences you may wish to address.
It is those people who have to read your drivel, or of course your well thought out and informative discourse. Search engine spiders may read it too, but there is only one reason for this: to put it in front of other people.
Of course putting content on your website makes you relevant to more keyword searches, but if you're just putting junk up, then at what price?
Whats best, SEO or usability?
I was speaking to a search engine consultant today whom I respect, and he told me that, with an ecommerce customer he works with, simply making the website more usable (please see my blog articles 1 and 2 on usability) the site's search engine ranking for some key phrases improved hugely, and the subsequent traffic increased four-fold. Why would this be? Apart from the fact that changes were being made, and spiders love that kind of stuff, the web is for humans, and the search engine algorithms are designed to mimic humans, in order to make search results better for everyone. So the rule of thumb works: make your website better for human beings, and they will come.
Remember the panda
Earlier this year the 'panda' algorithm came into effect at Google HQ, making content more important than links in the game of 'how important is my website?'. The only reason for this is that search engine 'specialists' were creating huge link sites in order to make their clients rank better, rather than improving the websites themselves. There's a lesson here (again): make your website better, and people will come!
So by all means blog, much and often, but please write great content directed at your human website visitors, not keyword-splattered spider-fodder!