The value of blogging is something organizations have embraced for several years now. Companies know that aN SEO-friendly 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, SEO-friendly blog intended to attract and convert organic traffic as part of a robust SEO strategy.
What is Different for SEO in 2020?
Before we delve into the goals, strategies and objectives of an SEO-friendly blog, let’s first understand what 2020 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.
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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, an SEO-friendly 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 Blog Speaks to Your Ideal Customers
Rather than write an SEO-friendly blog 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, an SEO-friendly 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 2020. 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.
Add a CTA at the End of Each Blog
You can’t expect people to go to your site navigation after spending five to 10 minutes reading a blog, hunt for their product, and make a purchase.
We live in an era where instant gratification must be met. That said, create an attractive graphical, well-branded CTA that takes readers to a simple one-page checkout with immediate access to the featured product in the blog, and similar products.
But your steroid-induced blog doesn’t stop working for you there. What about those abandoned carts?
Now we may be traipsing away from the “blog strategy”, but your goal is to make money, so this is relevant.
Make sure you have a marketing automation system in place that captures lead information, and emails these people with carefully crafted messaging that nurtures them back into the funnel and to their shopping cart.
Organizations miss out on thousands of dollars each year by not remarketing to abandon cart shoppers, and, though not part of a blog strategy, your goal is to increase sales, so making it part of your blog strategy and identifying it as such will only help you beef up your efforts and hit those revenue goals.
Use the Cluster Model
A blog cluster model is when you write a set number of blogs addressed to each buyer persona. Within each cluster, every blog has a unique title, addressing a specific problem or question, and it links to another blog with similar and relevant content.
Additionally, each blog will link to a pillar page. Pillar pages are web pages on your site that you are pushing to rank. Generally, these are the home page or primary product pages.
The cluster model works well in attracting organic traffic because, from an SEO standpoint, Google loves structured content.
Human readers also love structured content, especially when they can find additional information relevant to their topic from just one click away.
The cluster model helps oxygenate your blog; it provides circulation from page to page, and distributes search juice creating a hefty, growth generating content hub.
Your Blog Steroids are in the Approach
Let’s conclude by looping back to the approach: understanding your buyers. Everything you do in building a blog, from keyword research to backlinks, and from internal linking strategies to using CTAs; knowing your buyers is everything when engineering a growth-generating blog.
If you want a blog that actually generates business growth, you need to know your buyer personas, and how they consume information.
Every piece of the strategy must be rooted in this approach, and once you dial your customers in, you can make it rain green!
If you want to hear some success stories as well as effective strategies that you can get inspiration for your SEO-friendly blog, watch the movie from digital agency Ignite Visibility, created solely for SEO.
Told by Search Engine Optimization pioneers, SEO: The Movie aims to showcase a timeline history of SEO, along with documentary-style interviews with top industry influencers regarding their companies and the successes, obstacles, and strategies they have used to get to where they are today.