The perception of blogging has changed significantly over the past few years. Today, people in every industry are realizing the crucial role it plays in increasing traffic, boosting search engine rankings, and establishing authority and trust with users. A good blog can significantly increase a brand's overall online performance, it can help attract leads into the sales funnel, and it can serve to position your company as a thought leader in your industry.
But, just like other facets of your online strategy, blogging needs to follow particular structures and rules if you are to get the most out of the time you put into creating it. Here is how to build traffic to your blog using current SEO best practices.
1. Conduct Keyword Research
You want to ensure that you are hitting relevant keywords when you are blogging, so that the kind of traffic you are trying to attract can find your content when they conduct searches.
These keywords don't necessarily need to have a high search volume either; in fact, aiming for lower competition long-tail keywords can help you secure visitors who are further along in the buying process and conducting more specific queries.
2. On-page Optimization
While keyword targeting is a fundamental element of on-page optimization, it is just one piece of a larger puzzle.
Other aspects to focus on include creating valuable content, ensuring it is built to be shared (descriptive URLs, shareable stats/statements, obvious social sharing buttons, etc), providing effective UX, implementing relevant calls-to-action, and ensuring the page is crawler/bot accessible.
As SEO wizard Rand Fishkin points out, on-page optimization can help build brand credibility, earn social media traffic, make your content more link-worthy and shareable and increase the opportunity for it to rank highly.
3. Provide A Solution To A Problem, An Answer To A Question, Or Some Offer Of Help
The first thing to remember about blogging is that you should avoid being promotional. Being too salesy with your blog posts will likely deter visitors from reading on, particularly if they are in the early stages of the buying process.
Instead, be helpful. Become an authoritative source for information in your industry. Offer to answer a question or provide a solution to a common problem. In this way, when someone is ready to buy, your brand – which they trust because they consider you an expert – is well positioned to be the vendor of choice.
4. Be Unique
It's very unlikely that you can consistently come up with completely novel ideas. You're more likely to find that the topics you want to blog about have already been written on a million times.
The key to breaking through the noise is to do it differently; there is ample opportunity to carve out your own niche or give your audience something that is completely different from what the other guys are doing.
Add some value to similar content that already exists. Embed images, video and infographics on your blog.
While you need to write on topics relevant to your audience (which have likely already been written about), just make sure that you are doing it differently!
5. Include Calls-to-action
Always, always make sure that each blog post has at least one relevant CTA placed prominently on the page. I
f your goal is to capture subscriptions, place the form in a sidebar above the fold.
Another option is to include a CTA that offers a highly relevant piece of content at the end of the blog post (make sure this offer is relevant, or visitors are very unlikely to convert).
6. Include Social Sharing
If you want people to share your blog content, make it easy for them to do so. Include obvious social sharing buttons that allow readers to engage with and share content with a single click. Highlight shareable statistics or snippets that are consumable and very easy to share across social platforms.
Don't forget to leverage your own social media presence as well – distribute your content across the appropriate avenues and encourage your fans and followers to share.
Getting your blog to work better for your brand isn't a daunting task. Particularly if you are already blogging, it may be as easy as making a few tweaks here and there in order to ensure you are using SEO best practices and providing content that is relevant to your target audience. And if you are just starting up a blog, you have a blank canvas and a tremendous opportunity to start building your brand as an authority in your industry.
What methods are you using to build traffic to your blog? Sound off in the comments below!
Daniel is a Content Writer at Search Engine People. He is always experimenting with new formats and looking for creative ways to produce, optimize and promote content. He previously wrote for CanadaOne Magazine and helped create and implement online marketing strategies at Mongrel Media.