When you’re writing a blog, it can be a delicate dance between writing for search engines versus writing for readers. On the one hand, if you write only for a search engine people might (keyword, might) find you. But readers won’t stay. If you only write for people, the posts will be great but will be lost in the great chasm of the Web. Writing for both isn’t always easy, since the things that please one don’t necessarily please the other.

I didn’t particularly think about that debate in my last post about writing blog titles for SEO. Then, I read some of the comments about the need foremost for good content and the difficulty to write in a way that appeals to both people and search engines.

My thoughts are you always must write good content, provide something that will serve and engage readers, and you should do it regularly and consistently. That is mandatory. If you do that and do it for a while, the readers who do find you will keep coming back, they will subscribe and they might even tell their friends. If they blog, you will get added to blogrolls and your blog will get incoming links.

The reality, though, is that most people find most Web pages by searching. So it has to be a factor in your mind when you blog. Just consider it the challenge of writing online. Many years ago, I got my first newspaper reporting job. I had a friend who was a creative writer (unpaid, of course), and he called me a sell-out for writing within rules. I informed him that anyone could write with no limits. To write within them, and write well, takes real talent.

The same thing applies to blogging. You wouldn’t write a blog like you’d write a book, and you wouldn’t write it like you’d write a newspaper article. This is a medium for your work, and you should see SEO as part of writing for the format.

So always be mindful of SEO when writing a blog. But consider your most important factor the readers. Personally, if I encounter a situation in which I can’t find a good way to serve both readers and spiders, I opt for readers. The writing’s quality should always win the war. This should be a rare occasion, though.

What are your thoughts? If you encounter situations in which you really have to choose between serving search engines and readers, which way do you go?