When we begin working with a business owner to strengthen their online presence and expand their reach, we will encourage them to have a blog on their website. Many of our clients fall into three categories:
When working with new clients, we frequently get this question: What is the purpose of a blog?
If this sounds like you, what you are really asking is,
These are legitimate questions. And, the fact that you are asking them is a good indicator that you want to be engaged in the process of marketing your business online.
To best answer these questions, we’ll have to explore what a blog does, what it doesn’t do, and some common misconceptions. We'll also review how to get the best results with your blog.
When we talk to companies about their marketing goals, invariably one of the first things they mention is improving their search engine rankings. They want to be found online. A key piece of the digital marketing puzzle is having content on your site that the search engines can index. In addition to static pages on your site, your blog should be a major contributor to your content marketing strategy.
Companies with blogs have better marketing results. Content is a key factor in a strong SEO strategy. Consider these statistics from HubSpot. The average company that blogs has:
A blog keeps content fresh and gives you continual opportunities to write articles surrounding key search terms. According to Demand Metric, on average, companies with blogs produce 67% more leads per month than companies without blogs.
Your blog gives others content they can link to in their content. This means greater exposure and a boost in your search engine rankings. Blog content gives your company new information to share on social media and in email marketing, which in turn can be shared with a broader audience, creating a ripple effect. Static web page content doesn’t have the same impact.
Perhaps most importantly, a blog gives you an opportunity build trust and loyalty with your audience. By increasing brand awareness, answering their questions, providing helpful information that will aid them in buying decisions, and providing “free” value, blog articles are one of the best ways to draw your customers in and develop a relationship with them.
A good blog article has a compounding effect. It attracts website visitors and as the search volume increases, it ranks higher and higher in search, which compounds it more and increases its search rankings. Once you’ve been blogging a while you may notice that a few of your posts will outperform the others and provide a significantly larger percentage of site visitors. Those articles are called “compounding posts”. HubSpot wrote a detailed article on that subject that you can find here. What they found is that longer articles that are tactical and provide content that appeals to large part of a business’ target audience have the most compounding effect.
Check out a quick video on the importance of a blog in your content marketing strategy.
A blog isn’t magic and it doesn’t automatically make visitors find your site. There are many things that go on behind the scenes to make a blog article successful, such as SEO and promotion. More often than not, the results will not be seen until several months later.
A blog doesn’t sell your product. Use it to educate, inform, inspire or entertain your audience. Leave the selling to content in other parts of your marketing and sales funnel. Blog content is at the “top of the funnel.” Visitors who first come to your site are probably not ready to make a decision. They need to know if they can trust you first, so don’t use your blog to give them the hard sell or they will bounce and never come back.
One of the biggest misconceptions about a blog is that it should appeal to as many readers as possible. Casting a wider net will not help you catch more fish in the internet sea. You’ll end up with watered down content if you try to have mass appeal. Your blog should be written for your buyer persona and no one else. It’s important to do research to fine tune your strategy to include content that is written for your niche. Educate and inform your target audience instead of trying to appeal to everyone.
Another blogging myth that needs to be addressed is that it’s all about quantity, as in “The more articles I publish, the more traffic my site will get.” While it is important to blog often enough, I argue that strategy, consistency and quality are more important than quantity. A solid strategy will help your blog produce results because the articles are written in a way to leads readers to conversion. Consistency helps build loyalty and quality builds trust.
An excellent blog rarely succeeds on its own without promotion. So, if you think you can publish articles and have people just find them without any additional marketing, that’s not how it works. A successful blog will be engaging and shareable. But, first you’ll have to do the sharing – on social media and in your email campaigns.
Consistently producing blog content helps build your thought leadership, subscriber list, and your inventory of content to promote on social media. Your readers come to trust the information you share when they see that you are continually adding value to your community of followers.
Blogging consistently is also crucial in building your domain authority. Following a good link building strategy, you will link your blog pages to your company solutions pages of your website. Other blogs will begin to link to your content, as well, if it's authoritative and helpful. Over time, this web of links will build and Google will determine that your site is relevant and useful to searchers.
At SMA, we've been producing two to three blog articles per week consistently since 2015. We started from zero and now generate over 5,500 visits per month. Stay the course and you will see the fruits of your efforts.
Add professional, engaging images and infographics to your blog posts. Jeff Bullas cites that blog articles with images get 94% more views. And, blog articles with infographics get 12% more views. Images will also help your blog posts stand out when you and your followers share them on social.
Remember to add alt text to your images when you upload them into your CMS. Google image search is on the rise and alt text will help your images surface in searches.
Content creation is not a one and done event. You want to use your blog content to expand your reach and build your brand visibility. Get extra mileage out of your blog content using these tactics:
Tools such as SEMrush, Serpstat, Google Analytics and Search Console will help you measure the performance of your blog content. Pay attention to your audience and the data you gather regarding search results and social shares. A content strategy isn’t set in stone. Your blog should evolve over time.
Evergreen content is the hallmark of a good blog. However, you will also want to make adjustments as you gather data on the results of your efforts. Use information about what your readers engage with, who your visitors are, and what types of content they prefer to improve or adjust your strategy.
Be patient. Content marketing is a long game. So, while it is important to make adjustments over time, also know when you have to let things play out before jumping to conclusions about whether they are working or not.
One of the best ways to have a positive impact on the success of your blog is to be involved in creating the strategy and content. A good marketing agency will guide you in this process. But, you have to be willing to play a role in it. Don’t expect them to do it all for you. You know more about your business, your customers and your market than anyone else.
So, that leads us to one of the questions asked in the beginning of this article. Do you have to write for your blog? The answer is no - an agency or freelance writer can do that for you. However, if you’re not going to write your own articles, you should at least be involved in the development of strategy and topics. Your blog should be connected to your business, not a useless appendage that serves no purpose.
Now you understand the purpose of your blog and the positive impact it can have on the growth of your business. If you're ready to add a blog to your content marketing strategy, and you're feeling overwhelmed by the process, reach out to us. Our content marketing team will help take the burden off while you focus on other areas of your business. Let us know how we can help.
Editor's Note: This article was originally published on September 27, 2017, and has been updated for freshness, accuracy, and completeness.
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