If you’re working on a business blog for your website, then you are probably aware your blog can help you with Search Engine Optimization—but that’s not its only or even necessarily its primary function.
Google is by far the dominant search engine, and one of the ways Google stays on top is by constantly fine-tuning its search algorithm. It’s the job of SEO professionals to reverse-engineer that algorithm and make their clients’ sites easier to find. Few people look beyond page one of the search results, so that’s where you want to be if you have a business website and need to attract organic traffic. Updating your blog regularly helps to keep your site on top of the search results for the important keywords and key-phrases that potential customers are using to find businesses like yours.
Good SEO People Work By the Numbers
Good SEO people are quantitative; they work by the numbers. They think about your site’s statistics: the number of hits, where the hits came from, where they land and how many turn into sales. They look for the keywords that draw in paying customers, and they work on ranking the site for those keywords. They trace the benefits of changes they make to the site and new content they add. If they’re especially good, they think about your Return on Investment, too, and whether or not their services are providing you with a good ROI. It’s no wonder that SEO professionals love statistics.
Because SEO marketers know that statistics are the key to their success, they’re also interested in the metrics that relate to content strategy, including business blogs. When we work with SEO people, they usually give us some parameters, including word count ranges and keywords. Trend information for blog post word count and many other parameters is available, and that’s where things can get a little dodgy.
I’m Not Naming Any Names…
The web is awash with posts written by SEO marketers that give blogging advice based on large-scale trends. That is, they look at the average parameters for the most liked, most shared and most read blog posts and then conclude that if you duplicate characteristics like word count and title style, your blog will be more successful. However, correlation doesn’t necessarily equal causation.
Article Length: 2000 words is best?
Statistics say that 1500 to 4000 word blog posts are best. Will WordJet.net write you 2000-word blog posts? We’d be extremely happy to, since you’ll be paying us by the word. However, we’d better have a talk about what’s going to make each post special enough to warrant that length, and you’re probably not going to ask us for three a week.
The fact is, nobody’s going to read or even skim a post that long unless it’s exceptionally interesting or helpful. A collection of shorter posts, say 350 to 600 words, is better for answering questions, sharing industry information, discussing trends, showcasing products and brands and delivering news about events, promotions and awards. Will someone read a 3000 word post on currency exchange rates in The Economist? Quite possibly. Will they read a 3000 word post on this spring’s sandal styles on your shoe blog? Probably not.
However, as a caveat, that super-long post might still help with SEO.
Negative is Best?
Controversial rants with negative titles may be great for collecting hits. However, negativity is rarely a good business strategy. It’s something you’ll want to use sparingly and carefully, if at all. Why? Because you don’t want to be negative about your own products or customers, and casting shade on your competitors reflects poorly on you. Take the shoe blog example. You could write a post about getting a high-fashion look with Birkenstocks, and the title might be “Birkenstocks: Never With Socks.” What about your sock-and-sandal wearing customers? You’ve established yourself as an authority on the products you sell, and now you’re telling them that their favorite way of using your product is no good.
Last year, one of our clients, a pool builder, asked us to write a post about some questionable marketing tactics their competitors were using. We tread extremely carefully, using diplomatic language and a little bit of humor. After all, those competitors were also members of the industry association that our client was active in. In general, it’s best to tread carefully with negativity and keep negative posts infrequent in order to give a positive overall impression.
What is a Successful Blog Post?
When a business blog is successful, it’s not necessarily because it’s garnering thousands of hits, spawning lengthy streams of comments or being shared through social media, although exposure is certainly a positive if everything else is in place. It’s because the post is attracting customers and potential customers to the site and giving them a favorable impression of the business. The blog’s target market is the business’s target market. The blog’s measure of success is its effect on sales. If it’s helping to draw the right kind of hits from search engines through the use of keywords, that’s one type of success. However, once that potential customer or client is reading the blog post, what’s said needs to inspire confidence and trust, or those readers will not take the next step: ordering from you or contacting you.
Most very long blog posts are for establishing expertise or offering useful information, not for guiding people to your e-commerce area or contact information. A negative blog post, done right, might inspire people to do business with you, but done wrong, it could easily have the opposite effect. When you read articles about how to blog that are based on hits and large scale metrics, then you need to look beyond the numbers and ask yourself not only what kind of posts attract attention, but what kind of attention creates sales.