There's all kinds of hype out there about blogging. The blogging hype is sort of like the social media hype. Can social media help you? The answer is far more complicated than a simple yes or no. The same goes for blogging.
When people say, "you should be blogging," ignore them. This is not a person that's going to give you any useful information, and here's why:
A blog is a just a place where content lives
A blog isn't some magical thing that tells Google to fall in love with your website. It's just a place where content lives. The only difference between a blog and a collection of articles on some section of your website is that a blog tends to be published in the form of individual posts in reverse chronological order with the option for users to leave comments on each post. There's a bit of overlap here…for example, you could take a random collection of pages from your site and, with some programming knowledge, turn it into something that looks exactly like a blog.
When people talk about blogging, they're usually just talking about adding content to a website on a regular basis.
Blogging alone won't help with SEO
Most low budget SEO providers say, "You have to have a blog and you have to write x number of posts per month." You hire them and they pump out barely researched, relatively boring drivel that is loosely related to your industry. This won't help much, if at all.
Quality content will help with SEO
After the changes Google's made over the past 1-2 years, creating quality content and publishing it on your website is the only way to get ranked for anything worthwhile. Whether you publish that content on an existing section of your site or on a blog is irrelevant. Just as long as you're creating quality content.
What is quality content?
The full answer to that question could fill a book, but I'll try to be concise for the sake of the rest of your day ;-).
It depends on your goals of course; the type of content you write, and hence the type that constitutes "quality content" will vary dramatically depending on your goals. I want to be clear that, since this post is specifically related to SEO, I'm going to make a big assumption that your goal is to drive more qualified organic search traffic with the intent of converting that traffic into customers.
I'll take a quick detour to note that this completely ignores a lot of other very relevant goals. This blog for example: While I love organic search traffic, I don't write with the primary aim of driving such traffic. My primary goal with this blog is to demonstrate thought leadership to leads that have already converted with the ultimate goal of improving my close rates with the types of clients we want to work with.
Back to the point: If the goal is driving organic search traffic, quality content is content that matches the searcher's intent as closely as possible, and does so better than the competition.
When I say, "searcher's intent," I'm referring to the ultimate goal of the searcher when he or she types something into the search engine.
For example, just to scratch the surface, if someone types "go karts" into Google, there are quite a few questions that I can ask to determine their intent:
- Are they looking for a place to drive go karts, or are they looking to buy a go kart?
- If they're looking for a place to drive, are they looking for a slower speed option for young kids or a high speed option for the adrenalin junky?
- Are they looking for an indoor track or an outdoor track?
- Are they looking for places only within, say, a 5-10 mile radius around them or are they willing to travel further?
One of the major initial hurdles to creating quality content is determining the searcher's intent. It's not always clear.
For example, SEO is one of the major things we do. But when someone types, "SEO" into Google, they might be looking for an SEO firm, or they might have heard the term before and want an explanation of what it is, or they might want to get a job in SEO, or about a hundred other possible things. Sometimes it may be too difficult to determine the intent of a search query, so you can start more specific. "SEO jobs" for example.
But even "SEO jobs" could have different intents. Are they looking to get a job in SEO or are they looking for a list of the types of jobs you can get that are related to SEO? Or maybe they just want to know the salaries of SEO jobs.
When it comes to creating quality content, there's a happy medium in there where you get specific enough to understand the searcher's intent, but not so specific that your content doesn't bring in any traffic.
Better than the competition
Earlier I mentioned that quality content is content that matches the searcher's intent as closely as possible, and does it better than the competition. In the end, we're competing against everyone else for traffic in the search engines. In order to do better than your competition you need to create better content.
Pick a search query you want to rank for, then search it on Google. Does the ranking competition seem to understand the true intent behind that particular search query? Does their content match that intent? Could you do it better? If so, you may just be able to make some headway on that keyword.
So, strictly speaking, no, blogging won't help you with SEO. A blog is just a place where content lives.
But spending time to discover the keywords your prospective customers use to find you, the true intent behind those keywords, and how well the competition is matching that intent will help you determine what kind of content you should create and whether it will have a chance of driving quality organic traffic to your website.
If you then create that content, and you do it well, that will help you with SEO.