To blog, or not to blog? That is the question businesses and web marketers frequently ask themselves as they work to refine and strengthen their online strategy. Lately, however, it seems as if more and more people are arriving at the same conclusion: yes. Blogging matters.
Maintaining a blog is crucial to brand marketing because it is an essential part of building your actual brand. A strong brand (online) typically goes hand in hand with quality content. With Google’s continued algorithm updates that focus on quality content, you could say that a company’s brand has become important to its Google ranking.
Who blogs, and why? The truth is, blogging matters to everyone: whether you’re a freelance writer looking to increase visibility or an entrepreneur looking to broaden your small business’ reach. Even large corporations and media outlets blog to reinforce their brand and maintain a relationship with their audience.
Keywords are no longer the defining method of effective Search Engine Optimization. While they definitely still matter, a well-developed content marketing strategy is just as important. As a way of adding relevant and timely content on a frequent basis, blogging comprises a large part of content marketing.
SEO as a whole is so integral to online marketing that Forbes named a lack of SEO knowledge one of seven reasons a business can fail. Successful SEO incorporates a range of tactics. Here are some reasons why blogging is such an important one of those SEO tactics.
A Blog is the Platform on Which You Build Your Brand
Your brand is your business or your product’s identity, and so much goes into building a brand that it is difficult to determine the single most important factor. Offline, traditional marketing tactics—word of mouth, physical advertisements—and your person-to-person interactions with clients, vendors, consumers, and others establish your brand. Online, your website reinforces your brand. It is the interface between you and an even wider pool of potential customers. It’s the medium through which you promote your products or services.
To provide your audience with a robust brand image, your website must be equally robust. The content you publish is the way to do this. Blogs are an excellent way to consistently feed your audience quality content. You can only have so much static content—that is, the pages that lives in fixed locations on your website—before people get lost in it all. Blogs are current, concise, and can be published on a rolling basis. In this way, you can build a vast and varied portfolio of content that really tells people who you are.
Become a Voice People Will Listen To
Static content on your site may, and should, speak directly to you or your business. The blog, however, gives you a chance to spread your wings. Always keep your blog in line with your brand’s messaging, but don’t be afraid to get creative. Speak to various issues to become an authority in your space.
A wealth of content helps you become a thought leader, and people trust someone who’s opinions are influential and valued by their peers. You can stay specific to your vertical and still provide a variety of information on a particular topic. If you are a car dealer, compare different models of cars, or offer useful consumer information. If you are a realtor, discuss the housing market and give your readers advice. Break news. Provide commentary. Review related products, or interview other thought leaders. It is always recommended to integrate various media—Infographics, videos, gifs—into your blog as well.
Content is the Basis for Web Marketing
Multiple facets of your online marketing strategy—from social media to SEO—depend on content. We’ll talk about quality content in a little bit, but essentially, content has become vital to the way you optimize your site for search engines. It must be well written, properly formatted, and must utilize targeted keywords. Your static pages give you only so much content to optimize, but blogs give you a continuously revolving repertoire. You can focus blogs on specific keywords to broaden the keywords you target, and also have a wider variety of pages to choose from for link building. Not to mention the amount of organic traffic that is driven to your site as you blog more consistently.
Blogs are pivotal to your social media strategy as well. Effective engagement on Facebook, Twitter, Google +, and other social networks is not just about re-sharing other people’s content. Original content is not only more interesting, it also promotes your brand. Search Engine Journal writer Neil Patel says, “A blog allows you to build a fuller picture of who you are. Most people will meet you through other places…but if they like what they read on Twitter, then they’ll follow you back to your blog and find out more about who you are.”
The Evolution of SEO: From Keywords to Content
Part of Google’s renewed emphasis on content is the use of Authorship to determine the authority of a page. You can read more about Google Authorship here, but essentially, it entails integrating Google + into your site to attribute each post to the person who wrote it. This is Google’s way of making sure your content was written by someone who knows the subject and can speak to it reliably. Blogs give you more content to attribute to authors, and as Google sees more and more posts written by the same person, the credibility of both the writer and the posts increases. This can potentially lead to higher search rankings for a properly optimized blog.
If you have one person writing your blog, attribute all posts to them so that their author profile (linked to their Google +) is featured on each. If you have multiple writers, even better, just make sure posts are attributed appropriately, and whenever possible, have each person stick to a particular subject or category of blogs. This asserts their area of expertise, which Google takes into consideration when determining authority.
Was SEO Ever Dead?
A recent article by Alan Boyce from The Guardian, SEO Loopholes Are Out: Good Content is the Answer, attributes Google’s updates to the resurgence of SEO credibility. “Peak SEO”, as Boyce calls it, was that which relied on keyword stuffing and unsustainable link-building tactics. The series of updates that began with Panda and continued with Penguin and Hummingbird have all but eliminated those tactics by penalizing them for their unreliability.
Relevant and quality content therefore became key to ranking for search terms, and the renewed focus of SEO. Boyce says:
“These trends have led many commentators to claim that SEO is dead… far from being dead, SEO has evolved into something far more benign… The updates’ cumulative effect has been to rule practice after practice out of bounds, so that search results reflect whatever it is users really have in mind when they run a search… SEO today, then, is something like zen archery: to hit the target, ignore the target. Focus instead on the beauty of aligning with your audience’s intentions.”
The evolution of SEO, then, has been to focus on what the audience truly needs, and then reinforce that relevant content with the targeted keywords, meta data, and page formatting.
The aforementioned Search Engine Journal article (while still relevant) is from 2012, but even then, experts were acknowledging the importance of blogs to SEO. That was the beginning of a trend that continues to this day. If you don’t have the bandwidth or people to write your own blogs, consider hiring a freelancer. Source blogs however you can, always keeping quality and authority in mind. Content matters, and blogging is the fastest, most reliable way to consistently publish timely content.