Entrepreneurs have a blog for many important reasons, such as establishing credibility, sharing knowledge, expanding awareness of their personal brand, creating an advertising revenue stream and generating new business. Whichever of these benefits you are pursuing, another one is there for the taking — SEO. A blog can be a tremendous SEO asset, making your posts prominent in organic search results when people are looking for the products and services you sell.
No matter what your blogging purpose, it pays to incorporate good SEO techniques into your efforts. As a professional SEO firm, we always advise clients to blog. Here are three key SEO benefits that prompt this recommendation, along with tips to help you take advantage of them.
1. Capturing Keyword Traffic That Converts
Each blog post can be optimized for keywords Google users use in their searches. Pick the right keywords to optimize, and over time, your posts may be prominent enough in search to bring prospects to your blog at the precise time they are ready to buy. What are the elements of the right keyword terms? Important things to consider:
- Popularity — How often the term is used.
- User intent - Does the term suggest buying, information gathering, etc.?
- Competitiveness — Do you have a legitimate chance to rank for the term, or do big players dominate the results?
There are many online tools available to help you with keyword analysis, some of which are integrated directly into blogging CMS platforms.
2. Obtaining Links to Boost Your Search Visibility
Probably the most important ranking factors for Google are the quantity and quality of websites/blogs linking to your domain. Blogs are tremendous for attracting links for two reasons. First, other bloggers love to link to high-quality content in their niche or related niches. Second, blog posts tend to be informational rather than overtly salesy, like company website pages that discuss products and services. This quality gives even directly competing bloggers a comfort level in linking to your content.
The first key to earning backlinks is producing high-quality content — that is, content that is useful, engaging, accurate and authoritative. If you are able to meet these standards — and most entrepreneurs can — you will be very “link worthy.”
The second key is marketing your content, by sharing it on social media, through an email campaign, or by directly contacting bloggers in your niche and related ones. There is a lot of superb content that nobody knows about because the blogger never marketed it, and thus has no real impact on SEO (or other blogging goals).
3. Fresh Content Captures Google’s Eye
Another important ranking factor for Google is a website or blog that steadily adds fresh content over a long period of time. Again, blogs have an advantage over company websites on this score. It’s not easy to come up with new website pages for a company site; there are only so many product or service pages you can add without confusing visitors and diluting your message. Blogs, on the other hand, can produce a new post once a week or several times a week.
Google crawlers see this fresh blog content and conclude the blogger has a lot of ideas, a lot of good content to share with the relevant audience, and the information is recent — that is, not outdated. Thus, Google tends to favor content from such a blog in its organic search results.
To maximize this SEO benefit, bloggers should publish on a somewhat regular schedule for a long time (i.e., a few years for starters). Also, posts should be relevant to your business/industry and, as discussed earlier, optimized for relevant keywords. Some bloggers get in trouble by setting too high a pace for publishing; whether you publish daily or weekly, try to stick to a schedule you can sustain. Word count? Generally, 300-1,000 is a solid range for SEO purposes.
As you may have already inferred from this article, SEO takes time to succeed — months or even years. This is why blogging strictly for the purpose of SEO is probably a bad idea. However, if you have other reasons to blog, paying attention to SEO will help you, not only by boosting your visibility on Google, but also because:
- Keyword-optimized content uses words that matter to your target audience.
- Backlinks bring traffic to your blog, expanding your credibility and generating word-of-mouth referrals.
- Fresh content keeps you engaged with your audience and boosts your reputation for thought leadership.
If you haven’t started a blog, it’s time to consider it. If you are already blogging … how’s your SEO?
Brad Shorr is Director of Content Strategy at Straight North, an Internet marketing agency in Chicago that specializes in SEO, PPC and web design services. With more than 25 years of sales and marketing experience, Brad has been featured in leading online publications including Forbes, Entrepreneur and Moz.