Blogs have had an up-and-down relationship with the Google search engine. In the mid-00s, Google loved blogs; blog posts shot to the top of Google and just doing things like adding the word “blog” to URLs would elevate the rankings of mediocre content.
More recently, blogs lost some of their Google luster, probably because so many people were taking advantage of tactics like I mentioned above. Today, however, blogs are making a comeback, in my view for three main reasons:
- Quality Content. The “Panda Update” upped the reward for quality content, which blogs can take great advantage of.
- Social Sharing. Google’s search model is placing more emphasis on social sharing, which blogs can take great advantage of.
- Guest Blogging. As other SEO tactics have diminished in value, link acquisition, always important, has become even more important; blogs open up opportunities for link acquisition that are difficult to obtain otherwise.
Let’s take a look at these three points one at a time, and see how lead generation websites can take advantage of the opportunities they present.
Quality Content = Better Rankings
Google has become more sophisticated in recognizing content that is useful. Black hat SEO tactics that were used to boost the ranking of useless content are now being detected, ignored, or even penalized. As a result, “content farm” style articles, press releases and blog posts no longer carry much SEO value. Many lead generation sites relied on this type of churned-out content.
In addition, Google has become better at contextual search, and not as reliant on exact matches between search phrases and on-page text. As a result, sprinkling strategic keyword phrases over mediocre content is not the shortcut to rankings it used to be.
A blog provides a terrific platform for generating useful, non-tricked up content that Google will recognize and reward. This is particularly important for lead generation sites, because they tend to have few pages and even fewer content updates. It’s not easy for a lead gen site to produce one or two new pages of truly useful content every day or every week; but with a blog and a solid editorial calendar, it can be done with relative ease.
Quality Content + Social Sharing = Much Better Rankings
Today Google is sophisticated in recognizing high quality social media shares, factoring them into page rankings, and displaying them in SERPs. In terms of display, there’s a difference of opinion as to quality: for instance, Twitter is highly critical of Google for pushing its results down and elevating results for Google+ content.
However, in terms of factoring, there is no question that retweets, Facebook Likes, LinkedIn shares and Google “plusses” add SEO value to the content being shared. The more social shares a page gets, the better. For lead generation sites, this development is huge, because blog posts are much, much, much more likely to be shared than static Web pages. People are not really interested in sharing a site’s product pages or About pages – whereas a strong blog post, one that conveys helpful information or insight on a specific issue, can spread like wildfire through social media.
Last but not least on this point: For owners of lead generation site, a robust blog can provide an SEO advantage over competitors who are not blogging or just going through the motions.
Quality Content + Social Sharing + Guest Blogging = Much, Much Better Rankings
Guest blogging has skyrocketed in popularity for a number of reasons, not the least of which is its value for SEO. When links to your lead generation site appear in a guest blog post, it helps your SEO cause in two ways. First, any social shares of the guest post pass SEO value through to your site. Second, these same inbound links hold strong SEO value in and of themselves, especially when the site you are guest blogging on has high authority (PageRank).
A company need not have its own blog to write guest posts on other blogs, but I would argue that the task is made far easier when an active blog is maintained the company’s lead generation site:
- Bloggers are more likely to consider publishing a guest post from a human blogger as opposed to one from a corporate entity they don’t know. Blogs personalize the business relationship.
- Having a blog opens up the possibility for you to host guest posts, which can be quite beneficial in getting your content published elsewhere.
- If your blog is supported by an active social media presence, your own social sharing will add to the social-SEO impact of your guest posts.
Because blogs are a medium for quality content, because they attract social shares, and because they facilitate high quality inbound link acquisition, blogs are an almost indispensible element of a lead generation site’s SEO strategy.
Brad Shorr is Director of Content & Social Media for Straight North, search marketing, Chicago-based agency. They work with B2B firms in niche industries including leather work gloves and car lifts. Follow @bradshorr on Twitter.