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Will blogging for SEO work? We could answer this question for you right here, right now. (Spoiler alert: it does. And it doesn’t.) To answer definitively, though, and explain the contradiction in the spoiler we just gave you, we need to back up at least five questions…
Before you start bloggin for SEO and writing yourself into knots, getting b(l)ogged down with the nitty gritty of SEO, ROI, CTR, and all those other snappy marketing-related abbreviations, the question you really should be asking yourself is this:
“To blog or not to blog? That is the question.”
(With minimal apologies to William Shakespeare for altering Prince Hamlet’s tortured soliloquy.)
To help you answer that, follow up with one, or all, of the following questions:
- “Do I have something to say?”
- “Will blogging help my business?”
- “Is blogging worth my time, effort and, ultimately, money?”
- “Everybody is a blogger these days: is there any point to adding my voice to the masses?”
If you answered ‘Yes’ to the very first question on the above list, the simple answers to the rest of the questions are also yes. If you sense a ‘but’ coming, though, you’d be right; and not just any but. A multi-tiered, many-levelled, passionately-held “but.”
You should be blogging, and blogging will help you with your SEO, but only if you’re doing it right, and for all the right reasons. Once you’ve established the how and why of blogging, only then we can dive in and unpack how blogging for SEO can help you.
Blogging Done Right
Why to Blog
Blogging for SEO shouln’t be your main focus. Your main reason for blogging should be a simple one: you have something to say. Something to reveal. Something that genuinely interests you; that you believe in; that you care about and want to share.
How to Blog
Now start writing. Write with these 6 cardinal blogging rules in mind:
- Write as if you don’t care about SEO. Put your words in the air, like you just don’t care.
- Make your story true, whatever that story might be.
- Make it real for you and the reader.
- Make it relevant to your business.
- Make it interesting.
- Make it useful.
Renowned blogger and angel investor Jason Calacanis once said, “The currency of blogging is authenticity and trust.” This is why the above six points are so much more important to your blog than any amount of search engine optimization you might do. If your blog starts reading like an ode to a specific keyword, clearly generated with only SEO or ‘business’ in mind, it shows. Readers won’t like it. And perhaps more importantly, given the title of this blog, Google won’t like it. In which case, readers won’t even ever get to see it.
Which brings us back to the original question… Does blogging for SEO work?
5 Ways Blogging Helps With SEO
At this point, given that our number one rule for blogging done right is, “Write as if you don’t care about SEO,” you may be wondering if SEO even still matters.
Yes, it does.
When you optimize your website pages, including any blog posts you write, you’re making sure that your website is more easily found by people doing online searches related to your business, product, or service via search engines like Google. But as any marketer will tell you, Google is a tricky one. They are constantly updating their algorithms to give users – those doing the searching – better information. Right now, those algorithms are all about quality content, with SEO best practices currently focusing on relevancy, authenticity, and intent. And this is where blogging can really shine.
1. Blogging revels in relevancy, authenticity, and intent
Remember those cardinal rules?
- Make it real.
- Make it relevant to your business.
- Make it interesting.
- Make it useful.
There’s your relevancy, authenticity, and intent right there. So, just because you wrote your blog without SEO in mind, essentially keeping it real, you nailed SEO without even trying to.
Blogging also helps with SEO in a number of other ways, with the four that follow rounding out our top 5:
2. Blogging keeps you fresh
Search engines do regular checks on time stamps to see when websites are updated. Nobody likes outdated information, and Google doesn’t like delivering old news to its users. At the same time, you don’t want to put your brand consistency at risk, and potentially lose loyal fans, by constantly updating the home page, or main navigation pages, on your website. Publishing blog posts is a very practical way to keep your website and content fresh without jeopardizing brand recognition. This way, when bots crawl the net, they can see you’re looking after your website with constant updates. The bots know they can send searchers your way, secure in the knowledge that your content is up to date and fresher than Tim’s latest brew.
3. Blogging increases your ‘crawl space’
The more pages you have on your website, and the more relevant, updated content you have on those pages, the more places search engines will have to crawl and index. We like to call this ‘crawl space.’
Without intentionally blogging for SEO, it can help in two ways:
- With more pages to crawl and more info to find, the search engines are given a better understanding of what your website is about, which translates to a better grasp on which types of searches your site should rank highly for.
- More content also gives you a better way to use keywords. While ‘keyword stuffing’ is a big no-no, you’re fairly limited in keyword usage: you can only use keywords so many times without getting a big ‘ol Google-slap on the wrist, which will send your pages plummeting in the rankings. Hello page two (or worse!). By blogging and increasing your site pages, you can increase your range of keywords, and avoid the risk of keyword stuffing. Blog posts also tend to be about quite singular, individual topics, which means they come in handy for adding different keywords into your site without diluting your current keywords.
4. Blogging gives great link love
SEO still loves links. As long as they feel natural and organic, links – be they internal links or backlinks – are a key way to feel some search engine sunshine.
Blogs, in particular, make a great playground for internal linking. Given that you’ve heard, and are playing by, our cardinal rules, your blog topics are no doubt all related and relevant to your core business or offerings. This means that within each blog you will find excellent opportunities to point readers/users to other highly relevant main pages on your website.
If you really want Google and the other search engines to love you, you’ve got to earn it! One of the best ways to do that is to earn a backlink – or external link – from another trustworthy and respected website. By filling your website with interesting, usable, and valuable information via blog topic after blog topic, you’re creating more opportunities for other websites to recognize your value and authority, and send their readers your way to answer any questions they can’t.
5. Blogging captures attention
A good blog with interesting high-quality content, can capture the attention of the reader. This translates to more time spent on your website, as well as a greater chance of them clicking around, discovering more pages on your website. You want this.
The longer people spend on your site, the better it looks to Google. Say you do a Google search for “Does blogging for SEO work?” You click on a link but discover the page you land on to be particularly boring and/or unhelpful. You head straight back to the search results page. Somewhere in Google bot land, a red flag goes up: the signal has been sent that the page is a no-go-zone for that search term. Ranking goes down for that page. However, if you land on a page with a supremely helpful blog post – like this one (ahem) – you stop and spend a while there. Google gets the signal that this is a good page, that this page deserves to get searchers pointed in their direction; that this page deserves a great ranking. Well done blog post.
Of course, there are a few little tricks and tactics you can employ to make each blog post even more SEO-friendly, such as these…
5 Blogging for SEO Writing Tips
1. Go for long-tail keywords
Once upon a time, you could pick a couple of single-word keywords, litter them throughout your website, and voilà!, Google loved you. That was then. This is now! Dabble in keyword stuffing and Google will send you crying to the ends of the SERPs (search engine results pages).
The key now is to pick one or two long-tail keywords per blog post and use those without even thinking about them. If you choose them wisely, they’ll fit into your writing so organically you won’t even know you wrote them! What’s a long-tail keyword? It’s not as rude as it sounds! It’s simply a longer, three-or-four-word keyword phrase that is focused specifically on your product or offering. Long tail keywords are also frequently question-based, which allows you to really answer the questions your customers are searching for online.
2. Insert keywords here…
There are four key places to place your keywords:
- Your URL – This will be the first port of call for crawlers. So it makes sense that you want your target keyword in the URL. For more tips, see ‘Use user-friendly URLs’ below.
- Your blog headline (called the ‘Title Tag’ in a search result) – Your headline will be the first thing readers see on the page so make sure it’s relevant and that it includes your keyword. Pro tip: if your headline is a long one, include your keyword or keyword phrase within the first 60 characters of the headline – Google will cut off your headline at around the 60-character mark on SERPs.
- Your body content and sub-headers – While the only place that stuffing is any good nowadays is in a turkey, you do still need to include your keywords in your body content and sub-headers of your blog post. If your keyword phrase is relevant to your story or topic, you’ll end up using it so naturally that you won’t even know you’ve done it. Once you’ve written your post, go back, read it again, check that your long-tail keyword(s) is in there, but that it’s not in there too often.
- Your Meta Title & Description – The Meta Title and Description is found in the source code. This is the text that you can see in SERPs immediately below the link. This gives searchers a slightly longer description of, and insight into, what your link is about. It can make or break whether they actually click on the link. Use this space wisely, and use it all. Be sure to make it count and include your target keyword phrase in both.
3. Use user-friendly URLs
It’s only logical that your URL is one of the first places search engines will scan to find out what your post is about and whether or not your post is one worthy of a high ranking for a particular search. Each blog post you write has its own unique URL, which you can customize and optimize. Do so. Include your keywords in the URL, and make sure your URL matches the topic at hand.
4. Link like a pro
We’ve already highlighted the role links can play in helping with SEO , and how blogging can help with getting links into play naturally. Your blog topics should be relevant to your core business so, whenever and wherever it makes sense (which should be fairly often), link to other pages on your site. This keeps visitors hanging around on your website for longer and points search engines to even more relevant pages on your website – yet more great ways to help with SEO.
5. Make it mobile friendly
We’ve said it once, we’ll say it again: every single page on your website needs to be mobile friendly. Including your blog. Search engines do not like websites that don’t play nicely on mobile screens. Nor do people. And people use their mobile phones to search the net a lot. And we mean A LOT. According to Statista.com, 60% of Google searches are done via mobile devices. Compare this to just five years ago, when the figure was nearly half that at 34%! Fortunately, even though Google’s SEO algorithms are tricky little suckers, they have at least made this simple for you. Check to see if your website and blog are both mobile friendly using Google’s Mobile-Friendly Test.
A Blog Well Done
The bottom line is this, you don’t need to be blogging for SEO. If you have a highly relevant authentic blog with regularly updated posts that give great answers to your customers’ questions, it can have an excellent impact on how your website performs on Google and the other search engines.
More importantly though, it will connect you to your audience in a very real way, keep them coming back for more and ultimately, have a positive impact on your business.