Creating a blog can be a fantastic way to do a lot of great things for your site- increase rankings and traffic, spark visitor interest and engagement, and generally enhance the usefulness of your site to users, which can lead to gains both in terms of lead volume and visitor loyalty. It has the potential to be a very powerful interactive tool. But: blogging isn’t going to do any of these things if you don’t do it correctly, and its power as an interactive tool also creates the potential to do damage to your creditability and likability, and brand if you don’t develop and follow a well-considered strategy. With that in mind, here are a few important points to keep in mind when developing and executing an SEO blogging strategy for your own site or a client’s.
1. You don’t have to be your brand, but you have to respect your brand.
Blogging in a cold corporate voice isn’t fun- for you, or for your readers. There’s a reason people like blogs, and it’s because at their best, they’re both interesting and informative. They connect us on a level that feels more personal than your average professional interaction. But we can’t all just be exactly who we are when we’re on the couch in sweatpants when writing for a professional blog. When writing for your own company, or writing for another company blog, there’s an appropriate balance of personality and professionalism that you need to strike. Where that balance falls is going to depend on the company’s culture and corporate personality and your own, but ideally the person who writes for a blog needs to have a solid grasp of the company’s ideals and voice and needs to be able to translate that voice into writing. If you’re not doing that, you run the risk of either losing your audience because you’re boring them, or because you’re offending them.
2. Keyword research
We are blogging for SEO, right? Not for fun to share our mom’s recipes with our neighbors. An important goal is to rank for keywords that will bring relevant traffic to your site; so identify rankable, reasonably high-traffic keywords for topic areas you’re writing about, and use them wisely in your posts. No keyword stuffing necessary: just use smart keywords instead of any old phrase when writing.
3. Link your stuff.
One of the nicest things about blogging, from a strictly SEO perspective, is that it gives you lots of great keyword-optimized content to link to other great keyword-optimized content. Link articles within the same content category/topic area, and you’re demonstrating to search engines that you have expertise in that area. Very good. Don’t forget to use anchor text that contains the keywords you’re targeting, of course.
4. Know your audience.
You already have some idea where your customers’ interests lie. What questions do they ask you via email? What problems have they been using your product or service to solve? What industries are you targeting? Why do people choose you over your competitors? The answers to these questions can help determine appropriate content to write about. To offer the most value for your site, your blog should both be keyword optimized and linked up, and: helpful to your customers. It makes people happy when the answer is waiting there for them as soon as the question pops into their head. Use your understanding about what your clients want and need to know to develop useful content.
5. And then know them better.
It’s the age of analytics. There are so many tools you can use (including Google Analytics, cost: zero) to determine how people arrive on your site and what they do when they get there that there’s really no excuse to not use them to determine areas in which you’re meeting visitor needs, and areas in which you could add content or improve navigation to clear their path to the information you want them to see.
6. If you’re an expert, great. If you’re not, you’re not.
This is especially important if you’re writing for a company that is not your own. You have to be aware of what you know and what you don’t. You want to avoid saying something completely incorrect or that just sounds “off” to anyone knowledgeable about the industry, both so you don’t cause legal problems for your company and so you don’t lose trustworthiness with potential clients by sounding silly. Focus on what you know and can demonstrate expertise in. If you’re blogging for another industry, you can use your contact in that industry to fact check and edit your blog posts to ensure accuracy and appropriateness, and to help with topic development.
7. Host your blog on your site.
In addition to the PageRank the blog can collect and distribute, it’s nice to have people who visit the blog right there in with your conversion-generating pages, and the most important info you’ve decided to focus on with your main content pages. You lose an important connection (and make Analytics tracking more complicated) if you host your blog off-site.
8. Write regularly.
Having an outdated blog with three posts is going to make your site look poorly-maintained to a site visitor, no matter how often you update your main pages’ content, so creating a blog without committing to continuing to use it has the potential to create more harm than good.
Before creating a blog, develop a strategy and make sure you’re committed to sticking to it. It’s a great tool if well-managed, but as with so many of our activities in SEO, it can’t be done haphazardly, or you’ll end up punishing your site’s rankings and your ROI.
Jessica is an Account Supervisor at Hanapin Marketing, a search engine marketing firm focused on generating results through PPC and SEO.