How to Optimize Your Blog for Happiness (and SEO) – Brendan Hufford

Today’s bomb-dot-com SEO guest? Brendan Hufford! He’s a long-time online biz player and SEO junkie–and Today he drops life lessons and tips on site architecture and internal linking strategies. Boring topic? Not for super-blogging nerds like us <3 <3 Also, please read this post of Brendan’s. It’s gooooooood.

Yes, there were some AWESOME SEO tips from this interview.

Yes, I’ve highlighted one such tip below.

However, I’m going to take a tangent in this post, and those of you who are here just looking to gain massive edges in your SEO game will need to check out this post or this post.

Sorry, not sorry.

Brendan dropped a few really important life lessons, and I feel compelled to remind you of these truths–even if it means diluting this post from an SEO standpoint. (lol)

Fortunately, it’s my blog, and I get to write about what I want.

#neener, Google!

Listen to my episode with Brendan Hufford

or listen on Apple Podcasts \ Google Podcasts \ Spotify

Do not blog like a “crash” of rhinos:

A group of multiple rhinos is called a crash, and for good reason.

Rhinos can run at speeds up to 30 miles per hour

FYI – squirrels can only run up to 26 mph. Imagine a 5,100-pound rhino running as fast as a squirrel darting across your yard.

However, there’s a problem: Rhinos can only see 30ft in front of them.

5,000 lbs + running at 30 mph + only see 30 ft in front of them = crash

A lot of bloggers have high expectations for their blog, but oftentimes that looks like running away from something and not being able to see 30ft in front of them.

So why’d you start a blog? Why are you STILL blogging?

  • quit your full-time job
  • to make money (ok, why?)
  • to avoid other life responsibilities
  • to feel fulfilled or important

What are you running away from? What are you trying to fix in your life by starting an online business or blog?

What’s the long-term thing you’re growing? What are you building to last?

What’s 31 feet in front of you?

Vulnerable Pete Time: It’s ok to look to your blog for happiness.

The truth?

I started DYEB because I was running away from my old corporate jobs, and from a life where I felt I wasn’t touching people.

It’s not that I didn’t have meaning–I did. I had a wonderful family, a career, a house, the 10 yards.

But something had been eating at me for YEARS; an itch to help people, make my own money–but also to feel important.

I admit it.

That’s why 95% of my blogs and businesses have started. Money and fulfillment. I’ve been running for YEARS at 30 mph, only able to see 30 feet in front of me.

And that’s ok. It’s human, and it’s led me to where I am today.

However–the time has come to look further out and build something to last.

One more point, then I’ll leave you with an SEO tip, promise.

How to optimize your blog for happiness (really):

It’s insanely simple, yet difficult.

  1. Know what makes you happy
  2. Know what does NOT make you happy
  3. Grow the confidence to do things that contribute to your happiness
  4. Grow the confidence to let everything else fall away

Wanna hear a secret? I do not enjoy producing show notes for my podcast episodes. Yes, I said it.

The only way I got today’s show notes done was to ALLOW myself to focus on this happiness business–as opposed to laying out a detailed and step-by-step SEO guide for something and something.

Know what makes you happy:

Yes, traffic wins, huge email subscriber gains, and affiliate revenue increases will bring temporary joy–but what’s the underlying reason you want these things?

Yesterday, I shared a quote from Brendan’s podcast episode in our Blogger U Slack channel, and got this response from a member:

This blogger has figured out how her blog brings fulfillment

The point?

Maybe your blog CAN’T fix your relationship with your father/mother/spouse/dog–or hey. Maybe it can. Know what you’re running to.

Grow the confidence to run your blog–towards happiness and fulfillment.

Maybe that includes money and product launches and Bluehost.

Maybe it’s writing content not optimized for SEO, Pinterest, virality, or anything.

Maybe it’s completely different.

In a blogging culture of MORE traffic, MORE launches, MORE community, MORE–it takes guts to make anything outside of that. It takes guts to pursue happiness above “success.”

Re-read that.

Note: I’m NOT saying you should ignore growth tactics!

Not even a LITTLE bit.

I LOVE seeing search rankings increase. I enjoy finding new ways to reach people and increase open rates. I LOVE making money from Blogger U sales.

You should absolutely aim to grow your blog, never stop learning, produce great stuff, and find ways to market it.

But all of these tactics, strategies, etc, should be aligned with a happiness goal more than 30 feet in front of you.

That’s all.


Ok, fine. Here’s 1 awesome (and actionable) SEO tip from the interview with Brendan:

How you organize your content and structure your site can help tell Google what your blog is about.

Which if you read my SEO categories post, you’d know is extremely important.

2 ideas here:

  1. organizing your site (and posts) around topics, not keywords
  2. internal linking

First, there’s absolutely nothing I could write here that would do as good a job of explaining this–as Hubspot’s own guide to pillar posts.

What follows is my own take and summary of that–but it’s amazing. Go read it.

Organize your SEO around topics, not keywords.

Super Secret Side Note: your topics are your keywords.

Rather than generate a list of 500 medium-to long-tail keywords to write about–it might be easier AND more effective to list out your blog’s 5-10 topics and focus content production around that.

  1. list out your blog’s 5-10 subtopics
  2. (they’ll probably be 2-4 word keywords!)
  3. those are your “pillar posts”
  4. all your other SEO content are “explainer posts” for sub-sub-topics.


For a fitness blog, I might list out

  • weight loss
  • weightlifting
  • recipes
  • keto diet
  • paleo diet
  • whole food diet
  • calisthenics
  • sleep betterment
  • supplements

Those would be grounds for me to produce huge-mega-pillar-post content around those really broad topics (keywords).

blog seo site structure

Future “non-pillar posts” might include supplemental posts for each broad topic.

For calisthenics, I might have non-pillar content on:

  • how to do the perfect push-up
  • 7 tips for better body-weight squats
  • why pull-ups are the highest ROI exercise
  • 7 advanced calisthenics workouts you can do in 15 mins or less

How this works for SEO: Internal Linking

Interlinking just means linking to your own content–from within your other pieces of content.

This is the “web” that helps Google associate which pieces of your content are related to one another–and which ones are potentially MOST important.

Hence the phrase “cornerstone content” in Yoast, or “pillar page” content on Hubspot’s guide.

The idea would be to make sure relevant content is interlinked–especially pointing “sub-sub-topic” content to your pillar pages.

FYI – You can see a rundown of your internal links in your free Google Search Console:

internal links google search console

Clicking on a post brings up it’s internal links.

Here’s my (poor) internal links to my SEO audit tips post (which isn’t a piece of pillar content btw)


For way more help than I’ve provided here, I’d recommend you read that Hubspot guide and my own SEO categories post (which is #1 on Google woot woot!)


Here’s your CTC (Call to Comment):

Look more than 30ft in front of you: Where is your blog going?

What are you building your blog to bring you down the road? 

Let me know in the comments (this will help you think through your happiness strategy FYI).

Keep Reading

14 Responses

  1. I can’t wait to listen to this episode (saving it for my walk a little later). The snippet you shared in Blogger U really resonated with me.

    I trashed my first biz/blog for reasons similar to those you gave. It really sucks to work your tail off & have nobody much care unless they had an emergency I could fix. I did it all wrong with that blog, I know, else I’d have had more of the right audience.

    Now, I’m trying to build an actual, sustainable blog + business. I do not mind doing the work. But I’m constantly working.

    The rhino analogy is apt. I fight it constantly. Especially when I see 1st-year bloggers in hotter, more “fun” niches getting 100K page views & raking in $$$ even with lightweight posts.

    I believe that’s unsustainable. I’m not happy about doing that sort of “lather, rinse, repeat” that doesn’t make much difference in people’s lives. Now all I need to do is stop. looking. at. bloggers. who do ?

  2. Oh Pete, this is so good.

    I have loose long-term parameters for my blog: be a place of happiness and helpfulness. Even if this blog lasts for years, this goal allows me lots of room to explore a variety of topics, serve my audience in a useful way and not take myself too seriously.

    If I ever stop being happy (aka my blog feels like a dreaded chore) and helpful (is just contributing to the abundance of BS of the Internet) I’ll know it’s time to pivot.

    Can’t wait to listen to the episode.

  3. Pete, I keep coming back to DYEB precisely because you and your well-selected guests put out content gems like this. You are not like any other meta-blogger/online marketer (and this is a very good thing). Your approach, and your gripes and faves, all resonate perfectly with how I want to blog.

    I love what you and Brendan get into in this episode. I love his transparent, simple, non-smarmy approach to SEO. Finally, someone (other than you) with an approach to SEO that I really understand and can get into.

    Thank you again Pete, for the incredible education and resources you provide us with every week!

    1. I’m about to cry up in here Chrissy. That means a lot! Thanks 🙂

      and I agree. Meeting Brendan (as well as our mutual friend Jason and a few others) really changed the way I thought about start/having my own business–AND what I wanted to say.

      I’m glad you got something out of it 🙂

    2. Hey Chrissy! I’m honored to be in such good company here at DYEB. 🙂 I’ll be adding “non-smarmy SEO” to all of my official profiles immediately. 🙂 Any other gems you picked out from the episode?

      1. Hi Brendan! I just checked in to see if Pete had replied to my comment and was pleasantly surprised to see you’d also replied! That’s awesome!

        The biggest takeaways I got from the episode were to focus on the pillar content and then to be mindful and organized with my internal links. WOW!

        This is what I mean by non-smarmy. To me, this feels like a natural way to blog, that puts the reader first. It helps me as a blogger to stay focused and organized, and helps my readers to find and access the exact info they’re looking for.

        I hate it when my search results come up with irrelevant content just because someone managed to find a way to outsmart Google and rank highly with barely-relevant content.

        So thank you for the actionable info. Not only will it make my blogging experience better, but it’ll make the internet a better resource for everyone!

        1. Oh MY GOSH. I totally feel you. All of the SEO “thought leaders” who rank for terms like “backlinks” and whatnot while having content that is utterly unreadable. An image in between every paragraph? Why not! Nobody will actually read this!

  4. It’s not just images between text that’s annoying. If I see another popup with an almost invisible way to get rid of it, so that you have to hunt to close it, I won’t be answerable for the consequences!!
    Thanks for this post/episode. This is the sort of thing I’m beginning to realize that I have to come to grips with.

    1. Haha, like if you make it really hard to opt out, is that even a subscriber you want? Hello, I signed up for this list because I hate you and it was easier to put my email address in than exit the popup. So now I’ll be marking this as spam to your email service provider.

      No thanks!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

This website uses cookies to ensure you get the best experience on our website.