You already know that having a company blog is important for search rankings. There’s a ton of research out there that shows how having a regularly updated blog drives traffic, leads and sales.
But what you may not know is exactly how to use your blog to get your small business ranking. What type of posts should you be writing? Is it still important to use keywords? How do you use these keywords in your content?
This post will walk you through a strategy for using your blog to get your small business website ranking in search. But first, let’s answer the question that’s probably at the forefront of your mind:
Why is it so important to have a blog? (i.e. Why can’t I just have a business website?)
Blogging is perhaps the single most important and effective strategy you can use to get your site ranking. I’m sure you’ve heard that “content is king”; and your blog will be your primary vehicle for delivering your valuable content.
A standard website is absolutely critical for listing the basic facts about your business: facts like hours, location, services, products, etc. But unless someone is specifically searching for your business name or info, your site is unlikely to show up in the search engine results (SERPs).
Your blog, on the other hand, is what will likely drive the vast majority of search traffic to your site. If you’re consistently adding new content to your blog (I recommend a minimum of once a week), you’ll find you slowly start ranking for a variety of keywords. Here are 8 ways to make this happen!
1. Become an industry resource
First and foremost, remember that your blog has a very different purpose than your company site. Your blog isn’t a place to sell your products or services…instead, think of it as an opportunity to sell yourself.
As you consistently add helpful industry-related information, your audience begins to learn more about you and trust begins to build. You become known as an industry leader and resource, rather than just a business. I’ve manage to do this with our Due Blog. We only post the best information and we have become a hot industry resource.
This benefits you in two primary ways:
- People are increasingly prone to buy from those they know and trust. Blogging helps you become a known entity in your industry, and keeps you top-of-mind.
- Journalist and bloggers are far more likely to link to industry resources than to promotional content. By creating content that serves to inform and educate your target market, you stand a better chance of gaining inbound links (which are key to great search rankings)
2. Focus on long-tail keywords
It used to be that businesses focused on ranking for short, general keywords that had large monthly search volumes. The problem with this strategy, however, was that often these keywords were not only difficult to rank for, they didn’t drive relevant, targeted traffic.
The solution to this? Long-tail keywords. These longer, more specific phrases may not drive the same number of visitors to your site, but they’ll likely be easier to rank for, and will drive more targeted visitors (the ones who are more likely to buy).
For guidance on how to use these ‘long-tail’ keywords on your blog, check out my post How To Optimize Your Website For Long-Tail Keywords.
3. Go niche
One of the biggest SEO challenges right now is simply the overabundance of content being produced. If you’re creating short, low-quality content that adds nothing new to the conversation, you’re going to have a very difficult time ranking.
One way around this is to focus on going niche. This will mean writing blog posts that drill down to cover highly-specific topics in your industry. As we already saw in #2, focusing on long-tail keywords is usually a far more effective strategy…and can help you figure out niche topics to cover.
When you’ve compiled a list of niche topics to cover, you can use it to create new content targeting these topics, or to add new subheadings or subtopics to existing content to provide the most comprehensive coverage of your topic.
4. Do keyword research
I would argue that while keyword research isn’t quite as important as it used to be, it’s still a very important part of getting your blog ranking. Do you know what words or phrases people are using to find the information, products or services you offer?
This is where keyword research comes in. This is how you’ll find long-tail keywords to incorporate into your content, and niche topics you can cover. There are a ton of great free or low-cost tools you can use, including Keyword Planner, Keyword Tool, Long Tail Pro and Market Samurai.
Some of these tools will simply help you brainstorm long-tail keywords and topics, while others will also give you insight into the estimated search volume of those keywords. Both of these are important to help you find viable keywords.
5. Use proper on-page SEO
Where you use your keywords on your page is probably the most important part of your on-page SEO strategy. I can’t tell you the ideal number of times to use your keywords on your page, but I can tell you the most important places to use them. Use your long-tail keywords in your:
- Page URL: For instance, www.yoursite.com/your-long-tail-keywords-here
- Title tag
- Headings: H1, H2, etc.
- Alt image tags and image captions (where appropriate)
- Local marketing elements: maps, contact details, etc.
6. Focus on article length
Pay careful attention to this one. We know that one of the biggest predictors of the success of a piece of content is length. Content that is a minimum of 1100-1300 words long tends to rank best, and yet 85% of all content online is less than 1,000 words long.
Do you see the opportunity here?
While there may be an overabundance of short, low-quality content out there, this content simply isn’t ranking. When you focus on creating longer, high-quality content that targets long-tail keywords, you don’t need to compete with all the other content out there…only the 15% that’s 1,000 words +.
7. Investigate the SERPs
When you’re targeting a specific long-tail keyword, it’s always a good idea to know who is already ranking for that phrase. Simply plug your keywords into Google, and take a look at the first page results (particularly the first 3 results). Are these spots held by large, well-known businesses? If so, you may want to look for new keywords to target.
While you can simply eyeball the results, I recommend using an SEO toolbar like those offered by Moz, Searchmetrics, SERPS or Ahrefs. These will instantly give you insights into how difficult it will be to compete with top-ranking pages. They provide data like:
- Number of backlinks
- Number of referring domains
- URL rating and domain rating (Ahrefs)
- Keyword difficulty (Moz)
8. Consider local blogging
We’ve talked about targeting long-tail keywords and ‘going niche’. An outcropping of this is local blogging. If your business targets a local clientele (e.g. restaurant, photography studio, accounting firm, etc.), focusing specifically on local issues and topics can potentially send you reams of traffic.
BloggingTips is a great example of a niche site that has overcome the problem of blog oversaturation by focusing exclusively on local, niche blogging. Instead of trying to compete with national blogging site or blogging platform, they blog exclusively about tips for bloggers. This niche methodology by my friend Zac Johnson has been implemented by many.
Instead of trying to blog about general topics that may be very difficult to rank for, focus on becoming a definitive local resource. You’ll likely find this strategy is the key to acquiring local links and local search traffic.
Hopefully this post has give you the impetus to invest more time and resources into your company blog. Having a standard business website is critical, but having a blog is the key to maintaining a steady stream of search traffic.
This article was written by John Rampton from Forbes and was legally licensed through the NewsCred publisher network.
Originally published on Jan 4, 2016 3:59 PM