Good Blog/Bad Blog – How to Tell the Difference, and Why You Need to Care
Blog pages are hugely powerful and can be an incredibly important part of your website. No other page is as dynamic or as personal as a blog, and in recent years it’s become standard practise for every business website to feature one. However, few businesses really appreciate the reasons why a blog is such a powerful tool; they have one because “that’s what you have to do for SEO”, but this is wrong, wrong, wrong! A blog that isn’t well-planned, well-written and properly thought out is a waste of time and effort.
So . . . how exactly does a blog help you?
Your blog is a marketing tool. Its job is to increase traffic to your site; nothing more, nothing less. How well it works depends on how well you use it; simply having a blog doesn’t get you any benefit at all. There’s no magical “blog” box you can tick at Google to jump up the rankings, but a well-used blog can indeed help you reach the top spots in the SERPs.
Increasing Site Traffic with a Blog
A good blog can boost your site’s visibility because it gives you a totally dynamic page to play with; you can build internal links to your product pages, cite interesting new studies and stories, discuss upcoming trends or just talk about things that interest you. All of this helps to improve the quality of the signals you’re sending to Google, giving it plenty of information to work with when deciding if your page should be shown in searches or not. In addition to this, the constant renewal of content means Google’s always finding fresh content on your site, another good signal to send.
Turning over a regular blog article has plenty of benefits, and it’s pretty easy to achieve, too. If Google’s just looking to find relevant keywords in each article then all you have to do is have the intern pump out 400 words a week on [your product], and you’re reaping all the benefits of high-quality content.
The Problem With Keywords
There’s one slight hitch, though; because people can simply churn out low-grade content with a few keywords in it, the majority of blogs are pretty rubbish. There are only so many blogs you can write that focus on your core keywords before you’re just retreading old ground, but few business owners are willing to go beyond this “safe area” which is clearly linked to their own sales goals. This is why so many blogs articles are just variations on “Why You Need [our product]”, because the writers are just looking for an excuse to plug their wares. But this isn’t what a blog is for. It’s not for selling, it’s for engaging, and there’s a big difference.
Keywords have really taken a backseat in the last few years, and Google now looks much more closely at how people engage with your content. If they can see that you’re providing valuable content that people are reading, your blog will gain valuable link authority. This makes it important to create content that’s interesting and engaging, not just a thin excuse to build internal links. So how can you tell if you’re writing a good blog?
Good Blog or Bad Blog?
If you can see that people are reading your blog, it’s a good one; if people are sharing it with their friends and discussing it, even better. Google’s looking for signs that the content on your blog is interesting and engaging, and will look at how people read your blog, how long they read it for, and what they do after reading it (following through to your site, sharing to friends, reacting on Twitter, etc.).
If your blog’s only getting occasional traffic, or people are briefly skimming it then navigating away, it’s a bad blog. You won’t see any benefits from Google because your blog doesn’t appear to add value to the user experience. Now bear in mind that when I say you have a bad blog, I don’t mean you aren’t writing well; I mean the blog you’ve written isn’t fulfilling its purpose (i.e. to bring in traffic). There are plenty of reasons why this might be the case:
- Failure to Communicate: When you write a blog make sure people can see it! Be sure to announce it on any social platforms you use and for goodness’ sake put some effort into it: a tweet like “Here is our new blog have a read” isn’t going to interest anyone, is it?
- Just Plain Boring: You might just be talking about something people aren’t interested in. Brainstorm some ideas; I discuss coming up with interesting article ideas in my “marketing like an unsigned band” blog to give you a head start.
- Size is Everything: Fit your blog to the size of the idea – don’t stretch out a simple topic to 2,000 words just because you’ve heard long content is better. If you need to go into detail, do so, but if you can quickly and succinctly express yourself don’t feel the need to blather. It’s not about the word count, it’s about creating something interesting!
- Plain Title: Packaging is important, and it’s vital that your article title hooks people in. Check out the Sharethrough Headline Analyser tool for some pointers on refining your title (bear in mind that it’s a simple tool – go with your gut if you’re not sure).
Most importantly, it takes time to build up a quality blog section, and the key to this is consistency. If you’re regularly uploading thoughtful, interesting content, you’ll gradually begin to bring in more and more traffic. Don’t expect a blog to revolutionise your business in just a few weeks – give it time, and keep working on it.
Reaping the Benefits of Blogging
The big takeaway from this article is that blogs can be extremely beneficial for your website. However, you have to commit to them in order to gain these benefits, and it takes a real investment of time and effort to produce a decent blog. A blog is not something you have to have – if you don’t think it’s worth the effort, just don’t bother with it. A half-baked blog isn’t better than nothing; it is nothing, and it won’t bring you any benefits at all.
If you are going to blog, do it right; do your research, choose interesting topics, write useful and engaging articles and make sure you put them where people can see them. Always put the reader first, ask yourself what value you’re providing them with and be honest, would you want to read it yourself?
Want a compelling blog but don’t have the time? I can help; just get in touch.