Marketers have heard for years that great content (like helpful, authoritative blogs) boosts search engine optimization (SEO). But, like many aspects of SEO, it hasn't been entirely clear how that works. Add to that Google's frequent algorithm updates (like the recent "Medic Update"), especially the ones that reconsider the way content on your site is assessed, and it's not surprising that the specific relationship between site content and search engine results remains a bit of an enigma for many marketers looking to grow their local business blog.
How does great content boost SEO?
Social Media Today provides a part of the answer, noting that the quantity, variety and quality of content on your website boosts both user experience and engagement, both positives for SEO.
RELATED: Here are 5 reasons you should invest in SEO for your business.
It's not that posting helpful, compelling content in itself boosts SEO. Rather, the relationship between content marketing and SEO is more indirect. For example:
• More content leads to more clicks: The more site visitors are clicking on links within your content, the higher your click-through rate (CTR), and that means stronger SEO.
• Increased content means more backlinks: Authoritative content tends to get linked to by other websites (whose managers want their visitors to benefit from it). Again, the more backlinks you have from trusted websites, the higher your rankings in Google and other search engines are likely to be.
• More content means more and better keyword insertion: More content means more text, and more text means more opportunities to organically incorporate the keywords central to your business blog SEO strategy.
• More content means improved user experience (UX): Content marketing (especially the existence of a stellar business blog) makes your entire site more useful for visitors. Links between various site pages and blogs, between one blog and another, and between blogs and more comprehensive topic treatments (through eBooks, white paper and case studies) make your site more informative and enhance site navigation, both positives for SEO.
By the numbers: To blog or not to blog?
Let's begin by stating the obvious: The goal of your website is to make money for your local business. Of course, achieving that goal means achieving many intermediate goals. Such goals include things like generating more quality leads, improving conversion rates and lifting search engine rankings. Attaining those goals is much easier if you have a great blog on your site.
So, how specifically does blogging benefit a small, local business like yours? For an answer, consider these blogging metrics from HubSpot:
• Marketers who give high priority to blogging are, on average, 13 times more likely to have positive return on investment (ROI)
• Almost 45% of B2B marketers say blogs are their most important type of content
• More than 55% of all marketers say blogging is their number one inbound marketing strategy
• B2B marketers who regularly blog generate 67% more leads than those who don't
• Businesses that blog get, on average, almost 100% more links to their websites
What’s the secret sauce?
Those numbers, as impressive as they are, reflect average performance—in other words, some content marketers don't do nearly so well, and others do a lot better. So, what is it that makes a great business blog, the kind that helps your business achieve its principal marketing goals (including boosting profitability)?
Every business is different, of course, with different customers, different long- and short-term goals and different marketing challenges. That said, most see optimal benefits from their blogging strategy when they take the following seven steps:
Business blogging step 1: Identify your target audience. Business blogs "work" when they help consumers answer their most pressing questions and solve their most protracted problems. That means you need to understand who your prospective customers are (that understanding is grounded in accurate demographic and behavioral data) and what they need to create an effective blog. For example, a local plumbing company in a rural area knows that drought conditions will lead to questions about dry wells. Then, they blog about steps customers should take if they experience this problem.
Business blogging step 2: Narrow your scope. The goal of a great blog is to generate repeat visits to your website. Break up big consumer problems into a series of smaller ones for best results. For example, if you have an employment website, instead of a piece on "How to land your dream job," create a series of blogs on "How to create a resume that lands interviews" and "How to ace that coveted interview."
Business blogging step 3: Do some sleuthing. Your blogs won't exist in a vacuum. Odds are, whatever it is you're writing about, you're not the first. Before putting pen to paper, find out what's already out there on your topic and read it. To gain a competitive advantage, look for information gaps, things that others haven't blogged about, or instances where you can add authority to blogs that already exist. You should also look for any other weaknesses you find in other treatments. These can be everything from lack of depth to poor design to an absence of supporting data.
Business blogging step no. 4: Create a killer headline. Internet searchers are impatient, so you need to grab their attention. The best way to do that is with a great headline, one that meets the "4 U's" test—it needs, in other words, to be useful, urgent, ultra-specific and unique. Remember: The goal of your headline is to generate interest. Look for a headline that dashes expectations and promises something consumers really want to know.
Business blogging step no. 5: Do some research. Remember that Google rewards blogs that provide the most useful and authoritative information—and so will your readers. You don't need to become an overnight expert on the topic you're addressing, but you do need to know what's already out there on the subject, incorporate the best of what you find and tie it all together in a way no one else has. This will make your content both more compelling and more SEO-friendly.
Business blogging step no. 6: Organize and format. The best blogs are the ones that are easiest to read. In fact, the more technical your subject matter, the more important it is to make it easily readable. Start by outlining your main points, add supporting content that measurably adds to what's in your headers, make sure to use effective transitions from one section to another, and leverage formatting best practices (think bullet points, frequent breaks, and effective subheaders) to optimize the user experience.
RELATED: Read more by Nachum Langsner.
Business blogging step no. 7: Measure your results. If you're not using a robust analytics tool (like Google Analytics), it's time to start. This will help you find out which blogs are hitting the sweet spot, which needs some tweaking, and which are falling flat. Measuring results will ensure continual improvement in the performance of your blog.
So, the numbers are in and the conclusion is inescapable. A great blog can take a small, local business like yours to the next level, increasing lead generation, site traffic, conversions, and sales. But doing it right can be a bit of a challenge, especially if this is your first go at it.
That's where we can help.
We can provide one-on-one training on how to write and format SEO optimized blogs should you choose to write your own content. Alternatively, we provide expert blog writing services for those who want the benefits of high-quality content but don't have the time, or the capability of doing it on their own.
To learn more about the ways our content creation, local SEO, site audit and repair, listings optimization, brand monitoring and review generation services can take your small business to the next level, contact our gurus today.
Nachum Langsner is the Co-Founder & CMO of LocalBizGuru, a full-service digital marketing agency based in Cleveland, OH. He has over 10+ years of experience in the SEO industry and is a frequent presenter and instructor of digital marketing and SEO seminars for entrepreneurs and small business owners in the Greater Cleveland area for organizations such as COSE, Jumpstart, the Better Business Bureau, Score and the Ohio SBDC at CSU.