SEO

Content comes before SEO: blogging basics

As attaching a blog to your business website becomes increasingly the norm, I am fielding more calls from business owners wanting to talk about a blog for SEO purposes. They’ve heard of the advantages of creating regular new content on their sites, heavily keyworded for their business sector, and want to exploit this SEO gold.

But Google strives to deliver quality, relevant search engine results and with everyone jumping on the SEO bandwagon it was inevitable that some people would exploit this, and spam the system. So Google has refined its algorithm to penalise the spammers; putting the whole class is in detention for the misdeeds of a few.

So what does this mean for the business blog?

My prospective client’s face fell as I explained that he wasn’t going to get his website to the top of search engine results pages (SERPS) by creating a few spammy blog posts. Instead he needed to embrace the concept that “content is king”, and look at the other advantages of having a well crafted business blog. So what are the benefits of a blog now SEO is no longer the driving factor?

A blog can form the core of your social media strategy

Ever wondered what you’re going to Tweet about today? Or stared at your Facebook status and wondered whether with 0% organic reach there’s any point in sharing what your business is up to? With a regularly updated blog you will have plenty to share; encouraging engagement by previewing the content of your blog, providing your social media followers with updates they can share with their networks, and most importantly driving traffic to your website. As long as your blog posts stay current and relevant you can continue to promote them on your social media channels: not only by sharing them directly through your status updates, but also by creating discussion around your posts in groups on Google+, LinkedIn and Facebook.

Drive traffic to your site

A blog can drive traffic to your website, giving you a unique opportunity to generate leads from these visits. Traffic can come from SERPS when readers search for keywords related to your blog post, and from links shared through other platforms: signature on your email, social media updates, links from other websites, newsletters, RSS feeds etc. Your blog forms the bait which entices visitors to your site. Instead of saying…

“come and look at my wonderful home page where I will try to sell you my services or products”

you can say…

“come and read this fascinating post about something you’ve always wanted to learn about, and I will share my top tips and insights with you”

This works for a multitude of businesses, whether you’re B2B or B2C, there’s plenty you can share with your target audience that will interest them and encourage them to your site.

Generate leads

Of course once you’ve got a potential client or customer to your site you need to convert them into a lead. But first off you need to get them to read your post; and not feel like they’ve wasted 5-10 minutes of their life doing so. This is another reason why content is king. You need to deliver a good experience for the reader. This means that your blog post must be relevant to your target audience and deliver value in its content: whether this is informative, entertaining or a combination of both, you want a satisfied customer.

It also needs a call to action (CTA), and this is part of the process of converting your blog visitor into a lead. This is not a question of saying “you’ve read my post, now buy my product”, it’s a more softly, softly approach. Your CTA could be…

  • To comment on your blog, from which you can start to build a relationship.
  • It might be to share your post and drive more traffic to your site.
  • You may want to suggest that they pick up the phone to discuss their requirements in relation to the information in your post.
  • Or to visit another area of your website where they will get a better idea of your services.

Your blog post has got them to your website, now’s your opportunity to convert them into a lead.

Differentiates you from your competitors

Social media has changed the way we interact with businesses and brands. We’ve become accustomed to being able to communicate directly with big name brands by Tweeting our compliments and complaints, and getting a response from a real person. Whether this person works in a PR company is immaterial. We like the feeling that we have a relationship with these brands, and we now look for the same experience in our dealings with all kinds of businesses too.

When visiting a company’s website, we’re no longer satisfied by a corporate identity with directors, managers and staff hiding behind the company logo; we want to find out about the people too and decide whether we want to buy into their company ideology. A business blog is where you can share your “touchy-feeling” side, where you can speak to customers and clients in your own voice, and where you can demonstrate what sets you apart from your competitors.

Builds your authority

For many businesses being the best is what it’s all about, and this means building authority in their sector. Getting your opinions published by industry heavyweights is not always easy when you’re trying to establish your reputation, so self-publishing in the form of a blog is a perfect solution to this. The more you publish and the more visits and engagement you get on your blog, the more your reputation will grow and your authority be established.

Psst…SEO is not dead!

Personally I think all of the above points are better reasons to have a business blog than for SEO purposes. However there are still benefits to regular blogging for SEO. By building a relevant, informative blog that consistently delivers good quality targeted content you can’t help but rise up SERPS. The more pages your website has, using those keywords that reflect your business in a natural way, the more likely your website, or your blog post will appear in SERPS. After all people search for content using words, and blogs are full of them.

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