Hannah Wineland and Tom Tennant | May 02, 2022
One of the bigger mistakes most new organizations make when trying to build a customer base is launching a set-it-and-forget-it web presence – often unintentionally. The company will work hard to identify the right audiences to target, build the best information architecture and design, and create engaging and informational content to fill its pages.
The site will launch – and languish. Digital marketing teams will wonder why organic traffic is stagnant and the site is hard to find on Google.
They will have forgotten that websites are living things. And like living things, to grow, they must be nurtured and fed the right diet. Or worse, they know what they should do to keep their site fresh and relevant, but the staff doesn’t have the bandwidth to give the site the attention it needs. It happens to the best of companies.
Thankfully, there’s a relatively easy way to solve the problem. Blogging. That simple practice netted one Falls & Co. client a month-over-month organic traffic increase of 60%.
Want to know how? Let’s find out.
Before we dive in, let’s take a step back. It’s important we establish how blogging is defined in the 2020s versus what most of us picture when we hear the word.
In the late 1990s, blogging was a hobby for most people. Users would post personal stories for others to enjoy, almost like a perpetual holiday family-update letter. Over time, bloggers tackled more niche content, often focused on pastimes and hobbies.
The practice took off in the early 2000s when “Mommy bloggers” attracted sizable audiences with disposable income. By 2003, entrepreneurs were on board, monetizing what was once a hobby for many, through advertising platforms like Blogads and AdSense, and by the end of the decade brands got involved.
P&G launched BeingGirl.com in 2008, for example, which took the concept of blogging to a new level. BeingGirl.com was a content site aimed at teen girls that proved four times more effective at reaching its target audience than traditional media campaigns. Kraft took it a step further and built its entire marketing department around content in 2012, which lead to a fourfold increase in marketing ROI.
The common denominator throughout it all was quality content. Educational, informational and entertaining content that provided visitors with the answers they wanted or insight they didn’t know they needed.
The practice of blogging folded into the discipline of content marketing, and blogging became the de facto term for consistently updating a website with researched, well-crafted quality content.
Not long ago, a new player in a highly competitive and well-established industry partnered with Falls & Co. to assist with both the launch of a new website and digital engagement with the brand. There were big challenges to overcome. Rising above the noise of direct competitors, governmental agencies, environmental associations, and third-party aggregators. To make any impact, the client and Falls & Co.’s SEO and content team had to determine exactly who the audience was and how we would reach them in a crowded market.
The team established a long-term strategy that highlights often searched, competitive keyword phrases and a short-term strategy that targets more niched, less competitive phrases and geographical keywords. Targeting high quality content built on more niched, less competitive keywords helped establish both rank and authority in Google and other search engines and highlights the client’s thought leadership in the space.
It worked for the client. Strategic SEO blogging mixed with engaging follower content increased organic website traffic to the client’s resource center by 60% MoM in the first nine months of 2021.
When the team further optimized one existing SEO article, the client saw a sharp increase in organic traffic when the article became Google’s Featured Snippet for the search term. Achieving the Featured Snippet position for 24 keywords led to a 264% increase in organic website traffic over the course of two months.
However, simply having a blog or resource center won’t impact your rank in search engine results. It’s how each page on your site functions to both inform prospects and customers and the search engines themselves. That strategy must:
This model allows you to target less competitive, or long-tail, keywords through blog content while establishing more competitive, or head, keywords on your website’s main pages.
This strategy allows search-optimized blog content to metaphorically skip the TSA line by ranking quickly and building organic traffic while your more-potent, search-optimized main pages slowly chug-chug to the top of search engine results pages, knocking down one competitor at a time. In short, instead of waiting months for your main pages to rank, you can use your blog to increase visibility for your brand and start luring in new customers.
By following a content strategy informed by both personas and search strategy, not only will blog content perform well, but your entire site could benefit. For example:
So how do you create great content that’s optimized for search engine results?
The first step any organization should take is a strategic discovery phase. During this step, brands define the audience they want to attract and create personas – short, inspirational bios – of those audience members. Personas help content strategists understand the wants and needs of the audience, and they can craft blog articles to content journeys for each. When informed by personas, the blog can accurately and exhaustively answer questions they might ask before visiting main pages of your site.
But almost inevitably, there’s one persona everyone forgets. Google.
Your prospects are Google’s users, too, and Google wants to prove to its users it can retrieve the information they’re looking for from the vast ocean of online content. If you want to improve your SEO and have Google retrieve your content first, your strategy should reflect your understanding of what Google values.
SEO can bridge that gap and inform the building blocks of a fundamental content strategy. That strategy should be built around three content types:
Creating content from SEO data can still be a challenge for many. Because there’s an art and science to SEO, it remains a mystery for creators who are used to more concrete direction from collaborators. And the usual ask – to include primary keywords in titles and subheads and weave secondary keywords naturally into the article body – seems too simple.
Creators are convinced there’s a secret to writing SEO friendly blog posts – and there is.
The secret is no secret exists.
Writing SEO friendly blog posts should be simple, as long as your SEO strategist supplies you with the intent of the web users search when using identified keywords and a prioritized list of keywords and phrases. The rest is a two-step process:
If there is a trick, it’s focusing on the article first and keywords second. Most creators get tripped up in the writing process because they try to include the keywords as they go. That’s a recipe for frustration.
In other words, your story is the cake. Keywords are the frosting. You wouldn’t frost a cake before you bake it, right?
Ready to become an SEO blog champion? Contact Falls & Co.
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Hannah Wineland and Tom Tennant
Hannah Wineland is director of SEO at Falls & Co. She began her career as an educator, and transitioned to SEO through communications, content marketing and creative writing experiences. She now marries her content experience with technical and data analytics to develop organic search strategies for clients.
Tom Tennant is a senior content strategist at Falls & Co. He began his career as a news reporter and trade press editor. Tom shifted to media relations, working for one of the largest financial services companies in the U.S. – and then shifted again, spending more than a decade as a digital marketing team lead and content strategist for a leading enterprise information management software company.