By: PJ Howland

Give Your Blog Legs with SEO

September 19, 2016 6 minutes

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Have you ever heard the following?

The blog is where content goes to die.

I’ve heard this sentiment from business owners and marketers who have grown disenchanted with the concept of blogging for the business. And while there are certainly blogs that function as little more than content graveyards, the simple truth is that there’s a right way and wrong way to blog, and I’m willing to bet 90% of companies are doing it wrong.

Content marketing, love it or hate it, is here to stay. In fact, it’s actually been around for longer than most people think. And while the growing popularity of the the phrase “content marketing” has certainly done a lot for the industry, my fear is that many have deluded themselves into believing that by simply creating content, you are engaging in content marketing.

Not so.

Blogging, a form of content marketing, is a deeply integrated marketing effort that pulls on product experts, editorial staff, executives, and yes, even SEOs. Maybe especially SEOs.

Why especially? Well, if you think about it, blogging isn’t very useful if the content is never seen. That’s where the SEO comes in, right from the start.

Let Keywords Take the Lead on Content Ideation

Let’s say you run an online shop that sells indoor plants. You already have a handful of high-performing landing pages, and the next step is incorporating keywords into your other content. A blog is a great place to start.

Start by looking at your keyword research; I’m willing to bet that about halfway down the list of suggested keywords you’ll find some good long-tail keywords. Scrub through the list a bit and you’ll be able to identify which keywords you can turn into a blog post. Here’s an example:

Keyword research

Keywords like these don’t have large search volume, but they are typically easier to rank for, meaning an optimized blog post could get you on the first page with minimal promotion. There are more extensive research methods that will give an edge when creating content, but if you aren’t putting keywords into content yet, begin with this simple approach.

Overcoming Roadblocks

It may not seem like much, but over time you will have dozens of pieces of evergreen content, each one compounding organic traffic to your site month over month. However, there’s a catch: a blog needs to be populated with content at an ongoing rate. So pick a publishing cadence you can commit to, once a week or even every other week is fine, so long as you can get the content out the door.

My recommendation is to create a content calendar. The hardest part about making a content calendar is ideating new content to populate it, but if you have keyword research in front of you, what was once two hours of stress can now be now a five-minute copy-and-paste job. Simply take these keywords and drop them into your content calendar. They don’t need to be fully fleshed out content ideas yet; that will come later.

When you have a content calendar, hold to it schedule, and incorporate keywords into the content. If you do this, you’ll be able to bank on the results.

Organic Traffic

One of the biggest hindrances to a successful content marketing campaign is the lack of buy-in. The candid truth is that it’s going to take months, or perhaps even longer, before the results will validate your efforts. That said, you’ve got to start somewhere. It may help to think of where you will be year from now. Would rather have positive results like those depicted in the the Google Analytics screenshot above, or the same flatline line you’ve been carrying for years? Blog success takes time, so you may as well get started on it sooner rather than later.

What To Do With Traffic?

This may be an exaggeration, but have you ever encountered the following SEO plan?

Step 1: Earn organic traffic
Step 2: Ehh… Still working on it
Step 3: Get a big bag to keep all the money we’re gonna make

Sadly I’ve been part of too many conversations where it was taken for granted that organic traffic was the absolute end result and the defining metric to success. Unfortunately, for most sustainable business models, this is not the case.

Don’t get me wrong; traffic is a prerequisite to any meaningful gains you will have on the site. But it’s not a solution in and off itself. There are dozens of ways you can qualify traffic from a blog into leads and, yes, even customers.

If you’re wondering where to start, here are a few opportunities to move users through the funnel.

  • Suggested next post section
  • Internal links to relevant pages
  • Whitepaper download

The blog may have once been the place where content was sent to die, but the game has changed. Those who optimize blog posts for search are those who reap the rewards. It may not be a simple task; it will require time, it will require revisions, and most of all, it will require you. On the other hand, if your blog content is already DOA, then what have you got to lose? Your content isn’t doing you any good lying around unnoticed; use SEO to give your content legs, and you might be surprised to see how far it can run.

Written by PJ Howland on September 19, 2016

PJ is an Enterprise Campaign Manager at 97th Floor, overseeing a team of marketers, content managers and designers.

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