Why is blog content important for SEO?
If you’re looking to increase sales, inform customers about your products, or position your business as an industry leader at the top of Google searches — posting quality SEO blog content is the way to go.
Your content is the key when it comes to unlocking your virtual front door and bringing in new customers. The content does all the work for you from educating people about products to persuading them to buy from you.
Quality SEO (Search Engine Optimisation) driven content is core to our strategy at Online Asset Partners. The combination of technical SEO and rich, targeted content is key to not just driving traffic to your website but converting that traffic into real customers.
But why? And how does it all come together?
In this article, you'll learn:
- Why businesses need written content
- What kind of written content your business needs
- Why you should have a blog
- 5 powerful business benefits of blog content
- The importance of SEO for your blog content
- What is Google looking for when it ranks blog content?
- The value of technical SEO to your content strategy
- How to get started with great content ASAP
For many people, Google is their first stop when trying to find answers to just about anything. A quick Google search comes before asking a friend or any human at all. This is because Google delivers the most relevant and high-quality content for each search.
Therefore, if you want your business to stand out and be listed as the best answer to someone's search query, you need written content on your site. And that content (and your website) needs to be optimised for search engine performance. Google’s goal is to provide users with the answers to the particular problem they have searched for. To meet that end, the algorithm crawls the text across all indexable websites and matches keywords and written content to the search intent of a user. Of course, Google can and does return images and video results as well, but it relies on text-based information to properly categorise this content.
Whatever the goal of your website, you need great content to achieve it. Regardless of whether you have a physical store or not, the best way to differentiate yourself from similar businesses online is through your content.
Research suggests that 82% of retail shoppers will conduct research online before making an in-person purchase. When that research is conducted, you want your website to appear at the top of the search results to attract new customers and increase your sales. That means targeting the specific questions customers are asking, and not relying on product pages to do all the heavy lifting.
So content is worthwhile. But what kind of content does your website need? It isn't sufficient to just have content for content's sake. You need to understand who your customers are, what the different stages of their buying journey look like, and what information you can provide to help them move along that journey.
You may think that product pages, category pages and your homepage are enough. After all, they provide specific information about each of your products. In theory, that should be everything customers want to know, right?
Think again. Customers are searching for information at every level of their buyer's journey. Most often, they're not searching to make a purchase right away, but are instead Googling what's called an informational search query. A customer may make several of these searches before they're ready to make a purchase decision, and each of these queries is an opportunity for you to put your website in front of them.
Examples of an informational search query include:
- What queries: "what to look for in a good wok", "what is a good cheap wine", "what do I need to work in zookeeping"
- How queries: "how to dye hair at home", "how often should I clean my oven"
- Comparison queries: "best vacuum cleaner", "difference between dishwasher and dish drawer"
- Phrase queries: "making coffee", "remove stains"
And of course, all other question structures are interpreting as informational queries by Google. That is, Google interprets the user's search intent to be to learn something or find an answer to a question. So, written content needs to target the right search intent to rank well in Google, deliver value to customers and drive revenue for your business.
Of course, there are other types of search intent:
- Transactional search intent: Where a customer is searching to find a specific product to purchase online or find reviews. In this case, a customer is most likely looking for your product or service pages.
- Navigational search intent: Where a customer Googles the name of a website, as a means to find that specific website. In this case, a customer is looking for a specific website and there is rarely any reason to try to compete.
Your blog, more than any part of your site, will be where Google directs users who make informational search queries. So the key to a successful blog is to identify what informational search queries your audience is making and answer those queries to appear first in their search results.
If you have a blog set up on your site and haven't earned any results from it, it's likely you aren't targeting the right search queries — if any at all.
When customers Google their questions, blogs are typically the first type of written content Google returns. This is because often searchers are using long-tail keywords. That is, longer, more specific search queries, that Google tries to match as best as possible. Blog content, more than product pages or category pages, tends to answer these questions much more succinctly, accurately and directly.
Furthermore, blog posts are expected to be updated, changed and expanded as more information is gathered or the landscape around your products changes. This means Google will serve blog pages to its searchers to best match their search intent and provide the most relevant and up-to-date information.
The job of your blog, then, is to provide the most relevant and up-to-date information according to the needs of your customers and to do it better than your competition.
So why should you have a blog? The most obvious answer is that you need a blog to be competitive. If your competitors have blogs and you don't, you're only making it even easier for them to outdo you.
On a more granular level, blog content has the power to help you achieve a great range of business goals, including improving your reach, building authority and connecting with your audience.
Blogging is one of the most effective and inexpensive ways to drive traffic to your site, build brand awareness, enhance inbound marketing efforts and attract prospective customers.
Put simply, the more search optimised blog content you create, the more opportunities you’ll have to show up in search engines and drive traffic to your website. Combined with conversion rate optimisation strategies, a higher volume of visitors will drive more bookings, purchases and client inquiries.
If your business website doesn’t have a blog, you’re losing money. A blog works 24/7 to provide valuable information and insights that help new clients decide to stick around and purchase your products or services.
Blogging is also one of the best investments a business can make because it drives long-term results. From the time your post is published, it starts generating traffic and new leads. Once the page is indexed by Google, it will continue to accumulate results in the days, months and years to follow. Even as information becomes outdated, updating and refreshing blog posts is a relatively low-cost investment.
It doesn’t matter how big or small your business is, blogging is a good way for your business to build trust. When you blog on your business website, you can establish your company as an expert in your field. Regardless of your industry, you can always allow your blog to educate.
Build authority by using your blog to:
- Answer frequently asked questions.
- Demonstrate what makes your business unique.
- Share knowledge based on your real-world experience.
All of this helps to demonstrate authority on a given topic, and with authority comes trust. Through reading your content, customers will see you as knowledgeable, trustworthy and current, and feel more comfortable when making a purchase or signing on as a client.
For example, in a competitive industry such as women’s clothing, you need an edge that sets you apart to gain an advantage over the competition. You can stand out from sites that sell similar products by posting content that answers the questions of customers, such as:
- How to care for a type of fabric
- Is your brand sustainable?
- How to style an outfit around a particular garment
A blog keeps people on your website for longer and makes them more likely to buy something if you’ve answered their questions. More than that, they will see your website as a valuable source of information and your brand as a trusted retailer or service provider, which will keep them coming back for more.
Your blog posts can be used in a variety of ways. Blogging is a simple way to get discovered via social media. Every time you write a blog post, you’re creating content that people can easily share on Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn and other channels.
Quotes, pictures, or screenshots from your blog posts can easily engage audiences across all these platforms. Blog posts are also more likely to be shared by news and media outlets, resulting in more traffic to your site.
There are so many possibilities of what can be achieved with blog content.
For example, say you write a blog post about leggings you sell and title it "The Best Leggings for Working Out". If this is something your audience is searching for, it can get people clicking on the post, coming to your site, buying your products, talking about the products, sharing the post, reviewing it and posting about it themselves. All thanks to a blog post that came up as a result on Google.
Email marketing is one of the best ways to speak directly to your customers, but it's not always easy to build a database, especially when it comes to new or prospective customers.
Blogs are a great means of driving email marketing database subscriptions. If people find your blog content informative, relevant and engaging, chances are they’ll trust that your email newsletters are as well.
To get them to sign up, internal links can be included in both your blogs and newsletters. This makes it easier for them to read about promotions, new products, or business updates on your blog.
This is an example of where your blog strategy feeds into your wider marketing strategy. Your blog is one channel that should feed into another, such as email direct marketing (eDMs). All of these channels carry customers down through your sales funnel and into a successful purchase or conversion. Your email marketing then continues that relationship after the sale, while your blog can provide valuable content for those eDMs.
Blogging provides the opportunity for you to connect with your existing and new customers in a different, more conversational way. It gets your audience actively involved and engaging with your content.
For example, with an active comment section, you can follow the visitors' responses to your posts, get feedback on the content and have the ability to respond directly to their comments, again building trust and relationships.
So content is valuable to your website, and therefore your business. But is it enough to simply write any content? In short, no.
Even if a piece is extremely engaging, if it isn't optimised for search, it will be beaten by other content that is. SEO is all about targeting the keywords, search terms and content features your customers are looking for, and doing it better than your competitors.
To start SEO blogging, you need to be sure the topics you're writing about are what people are actually searching for. This is a real case of picking your battles. The search terms you target need to be relevant to your business and have significant search volume (that is, a good number of people are actually searching for them), without being overcrowded or too competitive.
For example, if you were to write a blog post on "wedding dresses", you'd likely struggle to get it to rank. Even though it has a search volume of 9,900 searches a month (based on the 12-month period up to October 2021), the first SERP (search engine results page) is largely made up of home pages of wedding dress retailers, not blog content. This shows that people do search for this, but Google thinks those searchers specifically want those home page results.
Instead, you want your primary keyword ("wedding dresses") to be more specific, to allow Google to better understand the search intent you're targeting. To that end, you might write a post about "wedding dress styles". With a volume of 260 searchers per month, there are certainly fewer people searching for this. However, the first SERP shows plenty of blog content, showing there is a more realistic chance of ranking.
You are always better to target a lower search volume keyword that you can realistically rank on, than to target broad keywords where competition is too high or search intent is not clear.
This is the first stage of keyword & topic research. From there, you would determine the relevant secondary keywords to be included in your blog article and analyse the top-performing competitor content to determine not just how you can match it, but how you can do one better.
Once you understand what content you should have on your blog, it's a matter of continuing to apply those SEO principles throughout the content production to ensure Google ranks it highly.
Search engines like google want to serve the best results for their users. For these search engines, the best content is relevant, up-to-date, in-depth and equitable.
- Relevance: Your content obviously needs to be relevant to what a user is searching for. To show Google that your content is relevant, you need to use the right keywords in sufficient volumes. Relevance is often also affected by the top-level domain and physical location of your business. So, customers in New Zealand are more likely to see results from .co.nz addresses from businesses in New Zealand.
- Recency: As relevant as your content may be in terms of keywords, if it hasn't been updated in several years Google is likely to penalise it. This is both because information changes and becomes out of date, and Google's parameters for success change. Your competitors may produce better content that pushes your blog down, or Google may simply learn different keywords that should be incorporated.
- Depth of information: Google prefers high-quality content. That means longer-form pieces (often over 1,000 words). Google will often also prioritise content that has sufficient linking and citation of authoritative sources to combat misinformation. The better researched your content, the better it will perform.
- Quality of writing: The way your information is delivered is just as important as the information itself. Google rewards web pages with low bounce rates, where readers stay on the page for a while and genuinely engage with the content. This kind of activity shows Google that the page is valuable.
So, content must be easy and enjoyable to read. This requires skilled writing, of course, but also an understanding of how content is read on a screen, and how to best break up text for users.
You may notice this article makes frequent use of images, paragraph breaks, bullet lists, subheadings and bold text. This is to draw your eye through the article, avoid dense blocks of text that you might easily become lost in, and make it easy for you to find the information you're looking for.
Creating SEO blog content is often referred to as on-page SEO because it's what you can literally see on the page. Technical SEO is concerned with the backend of your website and aims to help Google understand your content. Ultimately, technical SEO ensures your website can be found and accurately categorised by Google.
1. Site structure
Website structure refers to the way the pages and posts on your website are grouped, linked and presented. Having an organised site structure does two vital things for SEO: First, an organised site structure will make it easier for Google to crawl your website and correctly categorise your pages. Secondly, it will help users navigate your website, making it easier for them to spend more time, find the information they need, and ultimately convert.
2. Page speed
How quickly your page loads and responds has both a direct and indirect impact on your SEO. Not only is page speed a direct ranking factor for pages on Google, but it will impact the user experience. If a page is loading too slowly, users are more likely to navigate away, increasing bounce rate and negatively affecting ranking.
3. Blog post schema
Schema, also called structured data or rich snippets, refer to a piece of code that can be added to any webpage to make it easier for any search engine's algorithm to quickly and accurately understand what a page is about. In addition to making your content easier to understand for search engines, structured data was added as a direct ranking factor for Google around March 2016.
On top of well-organised content, you can provide Google's algorithm with a literal map to crawl and rank your website. An XML Sitemap is a blueprint of your website that tells the algorithm what pages on your website are most important. In most cases, Google can crawl your website without a sitemap, but having a good sitemap can only help your SEO.
In addition to a general XML Sitemap, you might consider Video, Image, or News Sitemaps to help Google find these specific types of content.
5. Image metatags
When adding rich content like images to your blog posts, take time and care to ensure your metatags are optimised.
Filename: Ensure the name of your image files is logical and relevant. Avoid gibberish filenames or meaningless numbers and instead name your image files by what is actually in them.
Alt-text: Alt-text is used by screen readers or displayed when an image cannot be loaded. It's a functional tag that should simply describe the contents of the image to those who are unable to see it for whatever reason. Be sure to include SEO keywords as appropriate, but prioritise genuinely helpful descriptions.
Title text: Title text appears when a desktop user hovers their mouse over an image, also called a tooltip. The title text is much less important for SEO, and many people don't use title text at all anymore, as mobile users grow.
Caption: Captions are useful for your users, as they draw attention and are more likely to read than body content. However, they aren't mandatory for SEO. When writing captions, aim to include keywords but ensure that the caption is actually useful to the reader.
6. URL structure
A clean URL structure is another technical factor that makes your blog posts easier to find and rank. Your blog content should ideally all live under a regular expression like "/blog/" or "/news/". For example, "URL.com/blog/xxxxxx", where the X's are a keyword-rich slug that aligns with the post's title tag and/or H1. Not only is this more logical and makes it easier for Google to rank your content, but it's also more user-friendly.
Mobile-first indexing means that Google will first rank your webpage based on its mobile version. This means you should be prioritising mobile-friendliness on your website, to ensure the page appears properly, loads quickly and is displayed logically.
Read more: Are you ready for Mobile First Indexing?
All these elements may seem like small things at first, but these are the "sandbags", the weights that hold your content down and stop it from achieving its full potential. Furthermore, many of these are easy wins; small investments with big returns. And as always, the competitive element must be considered: your competitors are utilising technical SEO best practices to get the most out of their blog content. Are you?
If you’re interested in increasing your online presence, attracting new customers and establishing yourself as an expert in your industry, then it’s time to get blogging! At this point, if you have any type of online business you have to be producing quality content that makes audiences click.
If you don't have the time, resources, or expertise to write blog content using SEO, we're here to help. Online Asset Partners will work with you to create unique, relevant and engaging content for your business that will not only be seen but will convert.
Call us for a no-obligation chat today on +64 9 525 8818 or fill in the form online and our General Manager will be in touch. Let’s bring more clients to your virtual front door!
This article was published in October 2021. Last updated October 2021.