Over a year ago I wrote an article called Blogging is the new link building. Today I very much believe that holds more true than ever before. Link building has been the staple of the Google algorithm for a long time now, and is still a very important factor for getting your website ranked high on the top search engines. However, obtainging quality backlinks to your website requires having good content. What is the best way to get good sharable content on your website? For most industries the answer to that question is blogging.
Now before I dive into why you have to have a blog, I want to clarify what I really mean by this. Essentially, when I say your business has to start blogging, I really mean you have to start updating your website every week with valuable content. Yes, every week… Do you not have time to do this? Well make time, because if you do not some of your competitors will and you will fall behind on the major search engines and other major online platforms which is the only realistic place small and mid-size companies can afford to market themselves.
Radio, Television, Outdoor, and Print are great branding and marketing tools, but without the ability to track their results effectively are really a shot in the dark for a small business, and can also get very expensive quickly. As you can see from the above graphic, internet advertising is quickly catching up to television ads, and has already surpassed print, which is not surprising. I would bet money that those numbers are way below what they actually will be for 2017 because Google itself is making huge strides with its advertising platform if you look at their YOY growth, and Facebook is growing even faster. Twitter, Pinterest, Linkedin, and even new apps like Snapchat will also grow online marketing way beyond what it already is. I am very confident that by 2020, it will be by far the number one place to advertise, especially as more people realize they are better off streaming Netflix and other internet programs rather than paying the higher cost of monthly cable.
With Google analytics, email marketing, social media, call tracking and many other methods for tracking who is actually visiting you on the internet, you can really dive in and see the results of your web presence to find out how many customers it is actually bringing your business. In addition, almost everything on the internet can be close to free if you know how to do it, so with a little bit of knowhow you can really get your costs down with internet marketing, saving you a ton of money compared to other forms of advertising. SMB’s are starting to realize this as a recent study shows that on average almost 50% of their marketing budget goes to online marketing.
Now that I have hopefully convinced you that you need to invest more into your online presence, I will get back to blogging and why it is essential for growing your online presence, leading to more customers finding you. Blogging is the best way to consistently update your website keeping it fresh and relevant every week. That does not mean it is the only way to do this. If you are an eCommerce website, you may want to have promotions every week, new products, or other eCommerce related updates rather than spending time blogging. Some companies may choose to have a forum in order to get more customer or industry related feedback.
There are definitely many ways to get content and new content on your website on a frequent basis, but blogging is by far the easiest way to do so. According to Hubspot, blogging was reported as the number one way to increase traffic, ahead of SEO. That is because blogging practically is SEO in many ways. Aside from making sure your on page SEO is well maintained, which is really an upfront thing to do as far as the bulk of the work, blogging and social media are really what is going to dominate SEO for the foreseeable future. Backlinks will come if you spread your blog posts on as many social channels as possible and the blogs you write are high quality and provide a valuable link for other sites to link to.
It is also a great way to inform your customers about industry related trends, news about your company, and how to utilize what your company actually does. A blog about how to keep your accounting organized over the course of the year will help an accounting firm inform their customers of what to do to prepare themselves for when they bring their taxes in for the end of the year. Blogs that teach your customers how to do something that even you might do for them as a service may cause them to realize how valuable it is to have a professional doing it for them. Additionally, once they realize the value of doing something through a blog post, even if they do it themselves they may find there are other things they cannot do and will need your help to do. Do not be afraid to give out valuable information about your company’s services or products. If you really see certain information being too valuable to give out for free, maybe offer part of it for free, and the rest for a small fee or in exchange for an email and contact info to build up your email list.
The other amazing thing about blogging is that it adds to so many other components of your business. Blogging will improve your website, improve your SEO, and help your social media campaigns because you will have more things to post. You can also turn blog posts into newsletters and emails to send out to your email lists. If you make your blogs sharable you should be able to improve your social campaigns without even doing any work yourself because people will just share them for you!
If you look at any website that gets substantial traffic, which I would consider to be over 10k unique visits per month, you will see that they have a blog, online products, or something actionable and useful for their users and visitors to look at. The future of SEO and in bound marketing can be summed up with this screen shot.
This is a blog by Larry Kim, the founder and CTO of Word Stream. He gave an excellent presentation at the Boston SEO meetup on keyword research and keyword grouping for SEO. He grew his traffic from 0 to over 500k unique visitors per month in 6 years simply by having an amazing blog. Now he has a successful venture backed software company with an amazing online reputation and traffic base.
As you can see his blog post on Twitter has many social shares, which informs Google and the other search engines this blog post was popular. You might be lucky to get everal back links of any value to one blog post, but it is certainly realistic to get hundreds if not thousands of social shares between all social platforms for a great post as you can see in the above screen shot. The search engines realize this, and that is why blogging and social sharing will become the future of SEO because the volume of shares versus backlinks means there is less room for error when using it as an indicator of content quality.
As the sample size goes up the error term goes down, a basic function of any statistic. A site with 10k social shares versus 3k clearly has more and is most likely more valuable to users, but a site with 10 backlinks versus 3 is not a great way to measure the performance of a site because the numbers are so low and the error for such a small number is very high. This is why the amount of social shares versus the amount of backlinks will become a more effective way to measure a pages value and will most likely become the future of SEO. At the end of the day anyone can share something on social media, but most people cannot link to content because they do not own a website. Therefore using social sharing as a metric for a websites success allows a much larger pool of people to participate in deciding its value leading to less bias and a larger sample size.
This study from search metrics shows the high correlation between social media and SEO rankings.