The value of blogging is something organizations have embraced for several years now. Companies know that a blog promotes brand loyalty, can play into online reputation management, and accommodate a variety of digital marketing strategies such as SEO and inbound.
The problem is that very few businesses run and manage a blog correctly, nor do they leverage other growth components of their overall strategy with a blog.
Leaving the other segments of a marketing strategy on the table for a later day, this article will focus on how to create a growth-driven blog intended to attract and convert organic traffic as part of a robust SEO strategy.
What is Different for SEO in 2019?
Before we delve into the goals, strategies and objectives of an SEO-friendly blog, let’s first understand what 2019 means for SEO and the right approach to publishing blog content.
If a blog is going to draw organic traffic, it must abide by Google Best Practices in light of RankBrain and its continuous evolution. RankBrain is, according to Google, the third largest ranking factor.
This algorithm has an AI and machine learning hybrid makeup that studies the relationship between search queries and clicks; it strives to learn from human intentions to continuously provide better search results and self-teaches itself on the way.
Since its existence alongside the 500 to 600 updates Google rolls out every year, the need for buyer-focused content that provides solutions for specific problems is paramount to ranking and sales from organic traffic.
Is the Main Idea to Rank Content?
Most organic search strategies focus on ranking content, and then they stop there. However, growth-driven SEO calls for an entirely different approach. From the best San Diego SEO agencies to top digital marketing companies in New York, ranking content is not viewed as the main goal but instead a necessary step to helping organizations hit their revenue targets.
After all, companies invest in SEO to increase sales and not to simply rank to the moon.
That said, any strategy designed to rank content must have the underlying goal foundation to convert organic traffic to sales, and this means content must speak directly to buyers addressing their needs and objectives–exactly what your customers hope to find in online searches, and what Google RankBrain favors.
Your Blog Should be Accessible through the Site Navigation
Blogs live in various places. In some cases, companies that have spent thousands of dollars on building a custom website later learn a blog cannot live on the platform due to the way it was coded.
In this case, they will get a subdomain to host a blog, or have a blog site that links to their main website. Then there are companies that wish to maintain a certain look with thin content and they don’t want their blog accessible from the homepage.
For the best SEO results, a growth-driven blog needs to exist in the main site navigation up top. When Google crawls a site trying to identify topics and context, it crawls the site’s navigation and considers its content in relation to the URL structure, H tags, structured data, image ALTs and a number of other factors.
In addition, when visitors can visibly see a link to the blog on the homepage, and the blog exists on the same platform, the likelihood of them clicking the link and interacting with the content significantly increases, and this generates powerful engagement signals that help improve organic ranking and domain authority.
SEO-Friendly Blogs Speak to Your Ideal Customers
Rather than write blogs around high-search volume keywords, you need to center your articles around target buyers in order to achieve high rankings and conversions.
This will involve comprehensive research necessary for developing buyer personas. A buyer persona is a semi-fictional representation of an actual customer that marketers use as roadmaps for audience targeting.
The client’s industry, products, and services will dictate the points covered in the buyer persona. But as a general rule of thumb they will contain industry, job title, job responsibilities, define how success is measured for that person, and where people in that seat look for educational information relevant to their role. Family status, income level and other personal points also play.
Data required for building buyer personas can be harvested by interviewing your sales department; what are the main objectives they hear, what are the common pain points, how do the products serve as the best solutions to buyer needs, and why do people ultimately buy (or not buy)?
You can also use social listening technology to see how people engage content related to your brand and industry, and to determine which blog topics get the most shares, likes, and comments. Other popular data acquisition methods for building buyer personas are questionnaires and surveys. These can be sent out to current customers, as well as to people who never made a purchase.
Keywords and Blog Structure
Once you understand who your buyers are and what motivates them through their purchasing process, its time to choose your blog’s keywords and structure.
While most SEO services focus their efforts on keywords with high search volume, a growth-driven blog should make topic-based keywords the core of their search terms, as the goal is to generate sales and not merely rank for no reason.
Here’s an example:
“Steak knives” may have an extremely high search volume and if you can rank well for this keyword, you are likely going to get lots of clicks. But, because the term is so broad conversion rates will be low because the content isn’t specific enough to meet buyer needs.
On the other hand, keywords like “olive wood handle steak knives” or “Laguiole steak knives” may have significantly lower search volume; they convert at a much higher rate because they target specific buyers.
Would you rather rank on page one of Google for a broad keyword that gets 10,000 searches a month and convert a monthly average of 200 sales from it, or rank well for a specific keyword that gets 2000 monthly searches and converts roughly 500 sales a month?
Here’s the best part:
You can still rank for broad keywords by first ranking for low-hanging fruit that converts better. All you have to do is create relevancy and context between your various types of keywords and demonstrate how they all matter to create content that supports customer needs.
As for the blog structure, topic clusters and pillar pages provide for superior ranking and industry dominance in 2019. These are groups of blogs that each addresses a unique topic while internally linking to other blogs that address similar subjects. Then each blog links to the pillar page, which is normally the homepage or primary product page.
This structure allows search juice to circulate through your blog’s entire ecosystem, while creating a positive user experience that helps visitors find specific content.
Google loves this structure because it is easy for the search engine to crawl and comprehend the information, and people favor it for its ease of navigation–two big factors that empower SEO.