If you manage or work with an organisation that uses the web to promote your information or services, then it is very likely you'll know or have come into contact with blogs. You may even have written some for your publisher or yourself.
It might be you've seen it as a chore. Or questioned why there is such 'hype' about them.
Marketers and web experts will always tell you that blogging is vital to winning the battle for a high position in the Google rankings. So are they correct and if so, why?
What's certainly true is that the scramble to have your book or product listed high on Google is real and vital. Moving from spot one, the highest place it's feasible to get without paying for advertising, down to spot two means on average a 30% drop in traffic and so on, as browsers favour the higher spots.
There isn't an exact formula that says which elements of your web presence influences your Google search performance, there are many factors, your website speed, how it works on mobile (responsiveness) as well as technical elements such as urls and page headers.
But one thing is sure – if your website does not have relevant words precisely targeted to what you want people to find you for – all the technology in the world will not make enough of a difference.
Why it matters
Google loves to find content that is;
- Well connected and above all…
- Deep and relevant
Blogs are critical, because they can be all three. A simple sales page can say ‘buy this book on accountancy practice’ and have some nice terms but these pages need, in order to sell the piece, to be short and concise.
Google likes blogs that are certainly higher than 400 words, because it is looking for valuable, bespoke information. For topics that are competitive, it often pays to write nearer 1,000 words. Such is the complexity of Google’s search technology that the more in-depth articles seem more authentic than ‘spammy pages’, or in other words web content that is simply splattered with the word ‘accountancy practice’ on the page in the hope to catch the search traffic.
Your piece can be made even more powerful by links, both to your own site references but also to valid reference points in the piece externally, maybe a link to a piece of advice on Deloitte’s website to extend our example.
As with so much in SEO, we aren’t just making our article useful to the reader, we are making Google like it too, as it rates pieces with links to recognised, relevant sites (we can be sure a major accountancy firm is certainly one in this case).
Lastly, depth and relevance. This is where perhaps the real focus is on, particularly given the latest trends in SEO. We have already seen how a very well sought-after search term, like accountancy books, will be very hard to ‘win’ on, in terms of google ranking. So now the balance is shifting to having lots of related terms on your site. For example, information for accountants, practice guides etc.
The more related terms your site features, the more likely it is that Google will pick up on them. Because a good blog explores the key concept with lots of variety of words in the 1,000 or so of the piece, it’s a great way to increase your range of content that Google might find.
Vital in all this is keyword research, what terms are ‘hot’ on google, in your field. Here is a useful how to guide on this practice.
As if by providence, when searching I found an Accountancy blog on how important blogging is, hey presto…
How often should I blog?
So it’s important but blogging is time consuming. How do you balance it with your other roles?
If you are worry now that you aren’t blogging enough, well there is no hard and fast rule, but its become a bit of an industry norm to say that twice a month a new strong piece should go up
Special guest appearances
A great way to enrich your site is to ask a third party to write a blog and place it on your site. This isn’t just for the seemingly obvious lazy reason that you don’t have to write it yourself! If the writer shares it with their contacts, then it will drive traffic to you. They may also link to it from their website, which, as we have just seen, we know Google likes as it helps to give your own site what is known as ‘authority’.
- Focus on answering questions. People like to search using questions, as basically they want answers fast. So if you write questions such as, ‘how do I boost my accountancy skills’, they have a great chance of matching.
- Make sure you have ‘share this’ icons on your page so readers are encouraged to use social media to spread the word, this all helps.
- Embed a video – it’s very search optimised and worth the effort.
- Have a range of tools to help promote your work or information. Blogs are the present and certainly the future, but there are of course other promotional web tools.
How long will blogging rule?
When we look ahead to the future, it’s really interesting to note how Google is now rating items listed in ‘shops’ or ecommerce highly in its search results, so they appear more prominently than ever. That makes items you have listed as being for sale in an online shop like Amazon really useful now for search. So if you have a title that you promote, then of course it’s going to help sales if it is listed via Amazon etc. But it also appears that the very featuring of it is important now in SEO and may become more so as the web commercialises. It might even come to be as crucial as blogging, one day.
Make sure that you write clear and relevant descriptions of the work in the publishing information. Also it helps if the title of your work contains the key words that it is about!
‘Most people I meet who blog either aren’t committed, or give up too soon, before gaining momentum that builds on itself.’
The battle for web attention is never ending and evolving but any self-respecting author now should have a live and interesting blog section on their site. Author Jane Friedman’s quote, from a really useful piece called ‘Blogging for Writers’, shows that, like much in life, you get out what you put in.