Does Blogging Help SEO?
For just about any question or need you have, you know Google is there. For many people, the wildly popular search engine is their first stop when trying to look for just about anything.
That means that no matter what type of website you have, if you want people to find it, you need it to show up in the search engine. And that’s hard.
One of the best things you can do to improve your chances of ranking high in the search engines is to start a blog.
Does Blogging Really Help SEO?
Yes, it does. That’s the simple answer. But having a blog isn’t in and of itself a ranking factor.
Blogging is good for SEO because it helps with a number of things that are important ranking factors. When you have a blog that’s updated regularly with blog posts that are high quality and on topics relevant to your audience, it can make a huge difference to how your overall website performs in the search engines.
There are six main reasons why.
1. Blogging keeps your website fresh and current.
If you ever happen upon a website that you realize hasn’t been updated in years, you probably immediately lose some trust in the information you’re seeing. The company it represents could have gone out of business completely or the website could be providing information that’s been completely debunked or changed since that last update.
Google doesn’t want to deliver its searchers outdated information. Websites that are regularly updated signal to them that the website is alive and offering fresh content. It also gives the search engine algorithms more reason to index your website more often, keeping it more on their radar over time.
You’re probably not going to have reason to update your homepage frequently (and it wouldn’t necessarily be a good business move to do so), so a blog is a more practical tool for adding new content to your website on a regular basis.
2. A blog keeps people on your website for longer.
Google’s number one priority is providing the people performing searches with the information they’re looking for, so they’ll keep coming back to use Google again. If someone who does a search clicks on the first link, then finds it unhelpful and immediately leaves to go back to the search page – that tells Google that the first result wasn’t as helpful as they thought. On the other hand, when someone clicks on a result and stays on the website for a while, that signals to Google that this website is actually very helpful.
While Google hasn’t said outright that dwell time, or the time that people spend on your website once they land on it, is definitely a ranking factor, they’ve made other statements that make it clear it’s something they pay attention to and impart value to.
Someone who comes to your website from a blog post that shows up in the search results is going to have more reason to stick around for a while and read the whole thing than someone who lands on a page with less text or information.
And that becomes even more the case with longer, more comprehensive posts. SEO researchers have found that longform blog posts tend to perform better than shorter ones – the average first-page result on Google is nearly 2,000 words long.
3. Blogging helps you target long-tail keywords.
A lot of people start out doing SEO wanting to aim for the most relevant keywords for your business. For example, if you sell camping gear, you want to show up on page one for the term “camping gear.”
While that’s a nice goal, unless you’re the biggest camping gear brand in the country, you’re probably going to have a hard time landing a top spot for that search. SEO is really competitive. The best bet for most brands is to look for longer, more specific keywords people are searching for that are relevant to the business and try to rank for those.
These are called long-tail keywords and they’re extremely important for any SEO strategy – half of all searches are for terms that are four words or longer. But they can be awkward to try to fit into your product pages. However, they’re the perfect kind of terms to target in a blog post. A store that sells camping gear can use their blog posts to provide information on terms like “best camping gear for cold weather” or “what do you need when you go car camping?”
These searches don’t attract as much traffic as “camping gear” does, but they come from people clearly in your target audience of campers and, if you can make it onto page one, you’ll get way more traffic from these topics than you would on page five or ten for broader more popular terms.
4. A blog gives you opportunities for internal linking.
So much of SEO is about links and internal links are the easiest ones for you to get since you can create them for yourself. Failing to include internal links on your website that point users from one page on the site to another is one of the simplest SEO mistakes you can make.
While you can probably find some good internal linking possibilities on the main pages of your website, once you start publishing blog posts, the opportunities will really blossom. As you add more pages on various but related topics, you add more opportunities to naturally link those pages to each other.
Every time you do so, you can strategically use the anchor text to better tell Google what the page you’re linking to is about – strengthening its connection to your target keywords in how the algorithm sees it.
5. A quality blog gives others sites more reasons to link back to your site.
Those internal links matter, but the hardest part of SEO is earning external links. For Google to see your website as trustworthy and authoritative, other sites (and respected ones) have to link back to yours. It’s not impossible to get external links without a blog, but it’s much, much harder.
When you write a blog you fill your website with page after page of valuable information. Any time another website decides it’s valuable to their readers to point them to useful information on a different site, there’s a far higher likelihood that your website will provide that information that’s worth linking to if you’ve got a bunch of great blog posts.
Research bears this out. HubSpot has found that companies that have a blog on their website earn up to 97% more inbound links. It just makes sense that more websites will link to that really helpful post you wrote about how to find the best Mother’s Day gift for a picky mom than to your homepage.
6. A blog helps you connect with your audience.
This isn’t a direct linking factor like links are, but it is something that significantly contributes to linking factors. When your audience reads a post they love, they’re more likely to share it, drive more traffic to it, come back to your website again to see more of your content and maybe even sign up for your email list. When you get lots of traffic and repeat visitors, that shows Google that people like your website and raises your authority level in their algorithm.
And while that’s pretty great from an SEO perspective, it’s ultimately more important to the success of your website than where you are in the rankings. People in your target audience visiting your website, connecting with it, and becoming regular followers is more valuable than any #1 spot on Google (that’s the whole reason you want the spot in Google to begin with).
A blog is a good way to make those connections and start a continued relationship with the people you want to reach.
Kristen Hicks is an Austin-based freelance content writer and lifelong learner with an ongoing curiosity to learn new things. She uses that curiosity, combined with her experience as a freelance business owner, to write about subjects valuable to small business owners on the HostGator blog. You can find her on Twitter at @atxcopywriter.