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February 11, 2015

Cindy Penchina, President

Effective Blogging in the Content-Driven Marketing Landscape

Every business has a blog; that’s just a fact of the digital age. Blogs have become a vital part of developing a meaningful online presence and of both gaining and keeping a high Google search ranking, which will drive users to your website and generate leads for your business. You – and your business – cannot neglect yours.

Historically, company blogs were little more than places where a business would try to game Google’s search algorithm by leveraging its bias for keywords and linkbacks, stuffing their blogs with keywords and heavily linking to their own website. The thinking went that a blog would enable the business to continually update and refresh its search ranking. Sounds great, right?

The end result was a vast, unnavigable ocean of low-quality blogs filled with worthless content. But Google’s goal has always been to bring quality content to the forefront, and they have spent the last fifteen years tweaking and reconfiguring how they read the web precisely to prevent that sort of thing from effectively raising your ranking. And now, Google is optimized to the point that some marketers are excluding link-building as a meaningful strategy, focusing instead on the development of quality content.

It’s a simple strategy. It can be risky, and while we’re not going to encourage you to keep away entirely from using links in your strategy to build up your search ranking, this new approach to web marketing is based on the extent to which Google prioritizes content that has been discovered and shared naturally. In other words, gaming the system is getting less and less effective, and the web is reaching a point where the best way to get to the top of Page 1 is to have the best content around. High-quality, relevant content will naturally spread through editorial linking, Twitter and Facebook shares, and, perhaps most importantly, producing original, high-quality content will raise your page authority ranking, which means Google prioritizes your content because it trusts the source – you. Search has become all about trustworthiness. Simply put, the best way to play Google may simply be to produce awesome, relevant, accurate articles; if you want the best ranking, you’ve got to be the best!

So how can you participate in this new, Internet-wide marketing environment where content is king? I am so glad you asked!

The really cool thing is that it’s not hard. This isn’t to say that it’s easy, but it’s not hard the way SEO writing used to be. Once, it was a matter of awkwardly jamming as many keywords as possible into a post, giving content an off-kilter, rapid-fire voice that barely sounds human. Now? You need someone who knows how to write well, and not someone who knows how to write for SEO. Google prioritizes content that is written professionally, rather than content that’s brimming with imagined “relevance.” Focusing on keyword count will make you sound stilted rather than authoritative, and Google knows the difference.

You also need to make sure that you actually know what you’re talking about, and that means research. That’s right; while Google’s web crawlers may not care about how rigorous your sourcing is, they still pay attention to content people demonstrably care about. That means you need to be producing substantial, well-researched, and accurate content that people find useful. No longer will it be enough to spend a half-hour throwing together a two-hundred word post which mentions your service offerings page a half-dozen times; instead, you need to transform your blog into the best place for people interested in your field to learn about it.  These need to be strong, meaningful articles that will begin to help drive the conversation; this is where you need strong writers and researchers on your staff capable of doing journalistic-quality work.

This is a strategy that is worth embracing, because it has the potential to transform your position in your market and your relationship with your customers for the better. But take it slowly; this is a project you build slowly over time. The old tricks are getting less effective, which means that beginning to pivot away from them is something any forward-thinking business concerned with its search ranking needs to consider. While not without its risks, the benefits and advantages it can offer can lead to truly remarkable things in the future Google is building, where the cream rises to the top – but the link-spam sinks straight to the bottom.

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