Welcome to Part 2 of GrowTraffic’s series about blogging, or The Blogging Blogs, as I’m calling them (it’ll catch on, trust me!). As I mentioned in Part 1, the purpose here is to detangle some of the huge quantities of contradictory advice and information surrounding the world of blogging and this week I’m going to discuss the effect that a good blog can have on your website’s SEO.
Google and Search Engine Optimisation
Over the last year or so, as I’m sure you’re all aware by now, the world of search engine optimisation (SEO) has changed considerably thanks to a number of algorithm changes that Google has rolled out. In line with Google’s goal to deliver the end user the best and most relevant websites for any given search term, updates such as Penguin and Panda have led to a change in which factors result in a website ranking highly.
The overall effect of all this meddling by Google, regrettably for us poor SEO Consultants, is that the key to cracking the old SEO riddle is now more simple than ever – you just need to have a really good website! Obvs (as the kids say).
Content Is King!
The old adage that ‘content is king’ is probably more true now than it ever has been, as one of Google’s key ranking factors is content; great content and lots of it. If you take a look at any of the top ranking sites worldwide you will see that they all have not only a lot of ‘static’ content but a lot of content that is frequently updated and this is, more often than not, in the form of a blog.
Google knows that, once someone has entered their search term into the search engine, they want to be presented with a useful website that provides them with the most up-to-date answers to all their questions.
As the owner of a website, you have to make sure that your website is that one that is going to provide all the answers and information that your customers may want. Not only that, but you also need to prove to both your customers and Google that you are an expert in your field and that you know what is happening in your industry and can advise your customers accordingly.
Blog, Blog and Blog Again
The easiest way in which the small to medium business owner can fulfill this demand for fresh and interesting content is to write a regular blog. In fact, a well written and effective blog section that is added to often is so important to a website’s SEO that it is the single piece of advice that we give to every one of our clients.
The frequency with which blog posts should be added to a website will depend on the business and its online competition; so, if I take a couple of examples from GrowTraffic clients, a small bed and breakfast business with little local competition may only need to upload a new blog post every couple of weeks, whereas a larger web design agency with a high level of competition both online and in the local area will probably need to update their blog weekly or even twice weekly.
Blogging To Build Links
In addition to sustaining your site’s content burden and displaying your expertise, a good blog can also forge relationships between your company and the online world in which it operates, enabling you to build and enhance your link profile.
There has been a lot of debate recently between the big cheeses of search around the role that blogging should play in building a site’s link profile, so much so that the internet is now awash with conflicting advice about whether or not blogging is a valuable SEO tool.
It’s true that a lot of webmasters have misused blogs in the past, writing poor articles just for the purpose of gaining links, and this led to Google being inclined to devalue blogs. Google even went so far as to include ‘guest blogging’ (where you invite a third person to write a blog post for you, or you write one for someone else, in return for a link) and ‘black hat’ in the same sentence at one point, meaning that Google is inclined to think of blogging for links as a devious and manipulative technique.
Having said that, Google’s Matt Cutts has now on several occasions stated that, if done properly, blogging in general, and guest blogging in particular, can still be a valuable tool in your SEO arsenal. Along with other big players in the SEO world, we at GrowTraffic have a strong ethical streak and only advise our clients to employ genuine techniques.
As such, and providing it really is done appropriately, guest blogging is a fantastic way to both satisfy your content quota and build an organic link profile. If you invite industry leaders, customers or even competitors to write an article, then your blog will be interesting, informed and varied and, if your blog is interesting and diverse, then other people will want to link to your site anyway. It’s win win!
In addition to actual links between websites, Google is now beginning to rank sites using what it calls citations (actually, it’s what the rest of the world calls citations too!) so, instead of links via anchor text within the blog posts, it is now sufficient to just mention a website or business on your site and Google will be able to recognise it.
As these are becoming increasingly important, writing blogs that discuss other relevant and creditable websites and referencing their content will once again improve your chances of getting ranked high in the SERPs. We’ll discuss this in more detail in our future blog, ‘What To Blog About’.
So Blog On
And so, in answer to the question posed at the beginning – can blogging save your website? – the answer is yes, probably! It won’t do it on its own, I’m afraid you are going to have to ensure that a number of other elements are also in place, but a great blog is arguably the most vital section of your website and one of the main things that will get your website noticed by Google and, hence, ranked highly in the SERPs.
I understand if most you are now groaning with dread and thinking “but I just don’t have the time to now write a blog on top of everything else!” I know that taking on the responsibility of a blog is a big commitment and a lot of our clients balk at the prospect, but please don’t despair yet!
The GrowTraffic Blogging Blogs have only just begun and, over the next few weeks, we’ll continue to explore the pros and cons of blogging. What’s more, I’ll also give you some great tools and techniques that you can use to make blogging as easy and effective as possible, so please come back tomorrow for ‘Part 3: Blogging Vs Social Media’.