Blogging: an art, a science, a fun activity, an SEO tactic, and a fancy way to describe writing on the internet. How can blogging possibly be all of these things at the same time?
For beginners first immersing themselves in all things SEO, blogging can be one of the trickiest concepts to grasp. Why? Well, not only have SEO experts long debated the best practices involved in blogging, but Google’s algorithm changes continue to make it difficult to approach blogging as a science. How it should be done, how often it should be done, who the content should be written for, and every other topic under the sun has been discussed, tested, reformed, and improved. With blogging strategies so drastically different depending upon who you ask, determining the best place to start and where to go from there can be challenging.
Blogging 101 most certainly starts with education. Being a great writer is important; writing online, however, involves a mixture of great writing, SEO knowledge, and a knack for understanding your audience. Those bloggers with a “throw everything at the wall” attitude will quickly find that nothing sticks. So, let’s discuss how to blog for today and tomorrow, let’s get our blogs to “stick”.
SEO Basics for Bloggers
From the most simplistic perspective possible, SEO (search engine optimization) is the process of increasing traffic to your website through search engines. The wide variety of SEO tactics that are essential to ranking in any search engine is far too complex for this post. For our purposes, we will focus on SEO from a blogger’s perspective in order to understand how a content writer can make the most out of their blog posts.
First and foremost, bloggers must understand that at the root of each and every algorithm change, Google has one objective: improve the user experience. Keeping your blog’s focus on the audience’s needs is paramount. No matter what you are writing about, if you are offering useful, meaningful, and relevant information, it is likely you have won half of the SEO battle. The bottom line is that when someone searches for a piece of information and your blog happens to answer that question or inquiry, Google wants to offer that blog to the searcher.
Learning the detailed components of SEO is important for bloggers to garner an innate knack for incorporating SEO tactics in each post. For me, blogging with SEO strategy comes naturally, but this did not occur overnight. Take a look at the following resources which present SEO basics in a clear-cut, instructive manner:
At first glance, these two guides may seem intimidating, but going through each section of each chapter slowly will prove to be incredibly useful in your future blogging. In addition, in light of the purpose of this post, learning about SEO for bloggers is as simple as a Google search. The information is out there, those who actively seek it and learn from it will build that natural inclination to write their posts with SEO tactics throughout.
From keyword research to link strategy, blogging with SEO basics in mind is essential for improving the user’s experience and thus ranking on SERPs.
Blogging with an Objective
In today’s online world, anyone and everyone is a “blogger”. With so much competition and commonality in blogging, it is critical for content writers to blog with an objective. So many writers fall into the trap of sitting down at their computers and typing away, giving little thought to the post’s meaning, purpose, and overall objective. Writing just to write doesn’t help anyone and it certainly won’t attract Google’s attention. When it comes to successful blogging, everything begins with a strategic objective.
Defining goals makes blogging so much easier. Sit down and decide who you are writing the blog for, what you’d like them to take away from the blog, and how you’d like them to share the blog. With a specified direction, a post can turn into a component of multiple posts, all targeting specific keywords but also offering sustainable information that will be useful to the site visitors. By starting your blog with the audience and objective in mind, the post will flow much more naturally.
Building a Network
In the SEO space, active bloggers know one another. When Matt Cutts posts something really interesting, Danny Sullivan typically shares the original post, writes a post on that original post, and directly responds to the original post. The value of building a network in your respective field or industry is paramount to generating a successful blog. From an SEO perspective, building links organically via likeminded online networks is surefire way to improve rankings. Social sharing high-quality content on sites within your network tells Google that you are posting worthwhile, informative, helpful information – all factors that will help your site to climb in the SERPs.
So, you just write a blog and hope that someone in your network shares the post and then links to that post on their website? It’s that easy? Unfortunately, it is far from that easy. Building a network requires you to be an active member of your field’s online community. Commenting, sharing, and linking are two-way streets. How can you expect for your colleagues to “promote” your post if you are not doing the same for them? This doesn’t mean share anything and everything. It does, however, mean that when a post is relevant and adds value to an article that you are composing, link to it.
In our space, commenting and sharing posts is for a purpose, not for the link juice, but because the information in that post helps to deliver your message. Keep building that network, quickly see how you build respect in your industry, and trust me, the links will follow.
Long Posts vs. Short Posts
Like most topics in the SEO world, blogging has been much debated regarding strategy and technique. Should my posts be short and very frequent or does it make more sense to compose long, in-depth posts less often? At Inbound Authority, we are in the process of running a case study to test just that.
Our post, “The Ultimate Shopify Users SEO Guidebook”, garners an incredible amount of site traffic. The post is very lengthy, incredibly useful, includes images, and also includes thorough, step-by-step directions. Posts of this nature are not easy to compose. They take much time, effort, energy, research, and patience. However, this is by and far the biggest contributor to traffic via our blog. With the ability to include more in-depth information and the potential to include many targeted keywords, long blog posts certainly contribute to search rankings. In addition, more commentary is typical on longer blogs, as dialogue is encouraged with more information to discuss.
Short blogs, on the other hand, offer a number of benefits that may be harder to come by when composing lengthy blogs. First and foremost, short blogs can be created and posted quickly, offering the opportunity to post much more frequently. Since these posts take little time to read, online readers may be more inclined to dive into the short post, read it, and then share. In terms of search rankings, regularly posting short blogs will help to get Google to crawl your site more frequently, helping with your place in SERPs.
There are certainly pros and cons to writing both long and short blogs posts. Stay tuned to find out the results of our current case study as we attempt to determine the real value of short vs. long blog posts.
Tracking & Improving
One of the most exciting and beautiful things about working in the online space is constant, continual improvement. No one can truly be an “expert” online, as new approaches and technologies are released daily that help to improve the way we attack online marketing and SEO. When it comes to blogging, room for improvement always exists. Therefore, it is imperative to keep track of your posts and how well they are doing in terms of links, shares, comments, etc. Taking lessons from each and every post is possible.
Measuring your success is imperative to building traffic to your site. When you are able to understand what does and doesn’t work, each post builds upon lessons from the previous one. While tweaking and adjusting based upon tracked metrics is important, it is also just as important to maintain your blogging identity. Brand yourself. People recognize writing styles and you will gain followers and fans simply based upon your unique style. Don’t lose this. Keep building upon your knowledge and technique, but never lose yourself in the process.
Bloggers take a special pride in the work that they create. Not only are you pouring your heart and soul into a post, but you are opening up your heart and soul as soon as you press “Publish”. Give the audience something tangible – a fact, a procedure, an idea that they’ve never heard before. Maintain your own sense of writing style, but always be open to improvements. Then, it’ll be time to move past Blogging 101.