With so much social media focus on sites like Twitter, FourSquare and Facebook these days, it's easy for companies to neglect one of the single most powerful social media tools available: their blog. In fact, for companies who are looking to increase their search engine optimization efforts, a well-crafted blog can make a dramatic difference.
In fact, HubSpot released a study last summer showing some dramatic search related differences for companies including blogs as part of their content strategy. Their data shows small businesses who blog have an average of 97% more inbound links, 434% more indexed pages and 55% more visitors.
Those numbers all tie together pretty easily to make good sense. SEO 101 makes it clear inbound links are a crucial part of building up search engine rankings. Those links, combined with a flush of freshly indexed pages leads to higher rankings for more terms which, in turn, leads to higher visitors levels.
But just what is it about blogs that make SEOs love them so much? Let's take a look at six key factors that help blogs outperform your average business site when it comes to delivering organic search traffic.
Reason #1: Speed of Link Building
Perhaps the most powerful aspect of blogs when it comes to search engine optimization is the speed with which you can build inbound links. This is because blogs are populated with the type of content people are willing to link to. Whether it's passing a resource post to contacts on Linked In, retweeting a great how-to guide or linking with added commentary from another blog, well written blogs rarely lack for inbound links.
Business sites, on the other hand, have a far more difficult time attracting inbound links. Once the requisite directories have been exhausted, acquiring links can become hard work.
Reasons #2: Depth of Links
Another strong benefit to blogs is the distribution of links to different pages on the site. When it comes to business web sites, the greatest majority of links tend to point to the primary URL. With blogs, most of the links point directly to the post being mentioned or shared. This distributes links deeply and widely across the site, lending more credibility to each page and making it easier for individual pages to rank.
Reasons #3: Outbound Links
When it comes to establishing a site as a resource (and therefore a value) in the eyes of a search engine and visitors, outbound links can play an important role. Blogs tend to link freely to additional resources, information and sites. Business web sites tend to restrict their outbound links due to the understandable concerns about distracting people from the sales and conversion process.
This ability to link freely to other sites is key in establishing the blog as a true resource and generating additional inbound links down the road.
Reason #4: Keyword Potential
There's a limit to how many pages of content you can add to a corporate site before you begin to overwhelm the visitor and detract from the conversion process. For some sites, this also means limiting the number of keywords and phrases you can properly target.
Blogs offer far more freedom in terms of ability to add new content with a slight variation in focus in order to target more keywords. Blogs can also provide opportunity to target potential customers throughout the keyword research cycle by offering the ideal place to educate, guide and answer questions.
Reason #5: Freshness of Content
One of the biggest differences between blogs and standard web sites in the eyes of a search engine is the freshness of the content. While blogs tend to be updated weekly (or even daily), corporate sites tend to be fairly stagnant. Most changes come about only when there are new products, specials or information about the business to present.
Since frequent content additions leads to frequent visits by search engines and a deeper crawl, blogs are deemed quite attractive in the eyes of a search engine spider. Integrating your blog into your primary domain can help increase the frequency and depth of spidering of the corporate side of your site as well.
Reason #6: Credibility
One of the keys to understanding the search buying cycle is realizing that early in the cycle people are looking for information instead of a sales message. Since corporate sites tend to be very conversion driven, there's a limit to how comfortable a consumer feels learning about their potential purchase in that type of environment.
This is one of the things that makes blogs so powerful in terms of search traffic. Blogs allow you to gain rankings for a wide range of phrases found early in the buying cycle and offers multiple opportunities to connect with and build credibility with your target audience. This increases the chances they'll either link over to your product site, bookmark you for future purchases or simply recall your brand when they move further through the buying cycle.
Boost Your SEO by Getting Back to Your Blog
If you've been neglecting your blog in favor of faster and simpler social media outlets like Twitter, you may want to rethink your strategy. Talk to your SEO and find out what types of search terms and phrases you need to be targeting to expand your listings in the search engines. Work with them to put together some content plans for your blog and then get back out to those social sites like Twitter, Facebook and social bookmarking to help generate links and traffic to those posts. Your rankings will thank you for it.
Jennifer Laycock is the Editor of Search Engine Guide, the Social Media Faculty Chair for MarketMotive and offers small business social media strategy & consulting. Jennifer enjoys the challenge of finding unique and creative ways to connect with consumers without spending a fortune in marketing dollars. Though she now prefers to work with small businesses, Jennifer’s clients have included companies like Verizon, American Greetings and Highlights for Children.
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