Blogging: The Effective Way to Achieve SEO (Search Engine Optimization)
A Brief and Incomplete history of SEO
In the old days (of the internet) - we'd search and click into the abyss - never knowing what virus or embarrassing site might show up in our results. With the advent of better search engines, arrived better search algorithms, and in turn better search results!
Search engine optimization has been a long game of trying to convince search engines (like Google) that your website should be at the top of the search results for a given search phrase, or keyword.
A keyword can be a single word, but is more often a phrase or string of words that gives specificity to the search. The longer the phrase the fewer the results. More specific searches can yield better results, and using quotations and +/- in your search can really help.
But what does this mean for YOU - someone who owns a website? How do you create content that lands in the hands of the people searching for you?
In the early days of web, backlinking was the way to gain the favor of the SEO gods. You'd point your site to as many other related and relevant sites as possible - which created monstrosity sites, taken over by links, ads, and making content the afterthought - rather than the focus.
Then came the ever evolving Google search algorithm. Keywords + back-links = Google love. This was the initial formula - and it worked for a while, til sites became keyword stuffed, back linking atrocities that, again, merely ignored any user experience. Over time, Google began to penalize "black hat" SEO tricks - things like keyword stuffing, excessive back-linking only for the sake of rank, and the like, and soon content was king.
What does that mean, anyways? It means that you absolutely must create engaging content through blogging (or simply put, WRITING!), imagery, video, and whatever other channels are appropriate for your brand - but the real key to long-term, evergreen ORGANIC SEO is BLOGGING!
Why Google Loves Bloggers
So I may be overreaching here, but really - it's true. Blogging - and blogging well - is the very best way to earn the favor of search engines. There's a pretty simple formula that has shown time and time again to work. It works because it's content-based and because the permanence of the written word.
To be an effective blogger you'll need a few things:
- Research. What are you going to blog about? Think about the search terms people will be using to arrive at your site. Use this information to generate a few keyword reports from various sites. (More on this later!) Once you've got some general ideas, write down your goals and use your goals, matched with solid research to come up with a blogging plan. Include topic ideas that might include things like: anecdotal stories and testimonials, tutorials, educational or informational blogs, etc.
- Commitment & Consistency. You need to blog often - which often is treated as a chore. Remember that what you put in now you will get back in the future. Blogging is an investment that pays great dividends if you're dedicated. The more you blog, the better your rank will become in search engines. Start with a weekly blog, and see if you can increase your posting to 3x per week. If you want even more exposure - increase your content output.
- Sharing. Once you blog you've got to share your content! Creating a compelling image to go with your blog post is a great way to make it more sharable. Beautiful images share well on Pinterest, Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and other networks like Reddit, Share it everywhere you can - and reshare/repurpose content, as well! There's nothing wrong with updating a blog and resharing it!
A Word on Keyword Reports
There's a slight difference between "search terms" and "keywords". Search terms are the string of words that a person may type into a search engine, while a keyword is a set of suggested terms that are slightly more specific, and usually shorter and more concise.
While people often think of the Google keyword report as the gold standard of keyword reporting - be positive to pull other reports from other sources. There are dozens of resources you can find online - and many of them are free. You want to be sure you are researching both actual searches and ad sales - you want to please Google, but you also want to deliver content that people are looking for!
How to Use Your Keyword Research to Blog
A keyword report will give you specific keywords, as well as information about monthly searches, and competition. Competition refers to the number of other sites / blogs out there vying for the attention of a keyword. Specific is always better - and it will serve you better in the long run by attracting people who are REALLY looking for what you do!
Here's a sample of what to expect when looking at a report.
Go Forth and Blog!
I hope this short article gives you a better understanding of how to have a lasting effect on your search engine rank! The more often you blog, and the longer period of time that you blog for will greatly affect the outcome of your efforts.
It can take a few weeks (or even months!) to gain traction with Google—so don't give up hope too soon. Stay committed and consistent, and Google will give your site some love, too!