As of May 2015, there were approximately 47 billion Web pages indexed on Google. For businesses looking to leverage the Internet to find customers, that number can be intimidating.
Digital marketing, especially for longer sales cycles, revolves around building engagement. You want to develop a relationship with your page visitors, so they come to view you as the industry authority and trust what you have to say. Search engines watch for this type of engagement.
A blog is an excellent content and SEO tactic that allows websites to build their brand, traffic, and reputation. When you regularly update a blog, you have an excellent platform to produce fresh and high-value content. This will keep visitors on the page, boosting engagement and therefore ranking.
Here is why the blog is so critical to a content strategy.
1. Fresh Content
Search engines want to provide the optimal user experience for those typing queries into the search bars. To this end, they seek fresh, up-to-date content and websites. In algorithmic terms this is known as Query Deserves Freshness or QDF, where more weight is given to recent content on trending or spiking topics. Generally, the search engines interpret recent updates to mean that the page has more relevance and currency than a website that has not been updated in months or longer and would be a better user experience for its customers.
2. Keyword Targeting and Coverage
Keywords are the base commodity of search engines. These simple words and phrases, however, may be one of the most misused SEO tactics. In the past some companies placed keywords excessively throughout the content in an effort to outrank their competitors. The underdeveloped content produced can turn off readers and therefore search engines.
Keywords used properly will have the following characteristics:
- They will likely be a phrase of several words, enabling the business to focus more precisely on the vocabulary their customers are most likely to use
- They will likely be used only a handful of times throughout the content
- They will only be used with a natural voice
In a secure search and “not provided” era, blogs provide you with the ideal platform to target various keywords and build appropriate content and context around them. Blogging about your industry and addressing questions will allow you to naturally incorporate these words into your content. Blogs also allow you to create pages dedicated to particular keywords and this allows you to develop a page reporting strategy. Traffic from search engines to that page are likely using queries related to the keyword around which the blog post was written. In that way, you can start to understand the queries and keywords even when they are not provided.
3. Increased Pages and a Larger Site
Matt Cutts of Google has come out and said that larger sites with more indexed pages do not automatically rank higher in search results. That does not mean, however, that having a larger site has no value. Instead, the value comes in the increased opportunity that the pages provide.
When you run a blog on your site, you will be increasing the number of pages on your site materially. With each new page, you will be adding a new opportunity to rank for a keyword, to obtain PageRank, and to engage visitors. You will naturally have more links to move people from one page to another around your website, improving engagement. You also have more pages of information that other websites can link to, establishing your authority through backlinks. Each page on your website that meets these criteria will increase your search engine ranking. Think of each page as a new opportunity to try for the top rank.
4. Increase Your Backlinks
When you create valuable, reputable content you can actively promote links as well. Readers who value the blog and the series of content it provides will reference and link to the blog posts. Look for resource pages where your site would fit well with the target audience and consider asking for it to be included. When you have valuable information on a blog, you have multiple pages that can serve as links for different subjects.
In years past, during the Golden Age of blackhat SEO, it was common for companies to get involved with unsavory backlinking schemes. Techniques such as buying backlinks and spamming forums to get links posted were common. Google quickly realized this hurt its end users and adjusted its algorithms to weed out these sites. Now poor backlinks hurt websites, making many companies nervous about pursuing them.
Despite the fear, backlinks are still incredibly valuable. Google still sees backlinks as a wonderful demonstration of the authority of a website, believing that a website with numerous backlinks is highly regarded within its field. The change is that it wants to see quality backlinks instead of just quantity. The search engines want to see backlinks that are relevant and useful. Blogs make it easy for companies to regularly produce high-value content that answers questions for users. This will help you establish your authority in your industry, enticing people to link to your content.
8 Steps to a Successful Blog
Maintaining a steady blog cadence does require resources, budget, and regular management attention. The blog should probably be managed within corporate marketing or content marketing and needs to be coordinated with the PR team and agency. Here are eight tactics to keep in mind.
- Identify valuable keywords with solid query volume
- Define an editorial calendar at least two months ahead
- Create a small pool of writers and editors
- Optimize the blog pages for SEO
- Internally link and cross-reference the blogs
- Provide social sharing links for users
- Cross-promote related blog posts
- Promote blog posts through email and social channels
Blogging provides you with excellent tools for creating the valuable content that search engines and page visitors enjoy. These additional pages do not just make your website look more complete, they boost SEO and engage your visitors, and help your page better serve your clients.
If developing a regularly updated blog is not a part of your content marketing strategy for 2015, it is time to seriously consider making the commitment.