By Kristin Page (c) 2011
Adding a blog to your website is a big decision, but it is something that every company should consider. A regularly updated blog can give people a reason to visit your website more often, and there are also SEO (search engine optimization) benefits to keeping a company blog.
Perhaps you’ve thought about starting a blog for your company, but you’re not sure it will be worth the extra work. Here’s a rundown of the SEO benefits to help you decide.
More Content for Search Engines
Most websites have a fairly limited number of pages, and a limited number of words per page. Adding a blog means you can regularly create rich content, and include the keywords you’re trying to rank well for in search results. You’ll be giving search engines more pages and content to crawl on your site, and more opportuníty to see your important keywords.
For every blog post you write, you are giving yourself the chance to add content containing five to 10 new keywords. Some of these keywords could actually be longer phrases containing keywords you’re already trying to rank well for in search results.
These longer phrases – called “long tail keywords” by SEO professionals – can be easier for you to rank well for. That’s because, as a keyword phrase gets longer, there are fewer instances of it in search engine indexes. In effect, there’s less competition for top rankings in results for searches on those keywords.
For example, a gardening supplies website could add a blog that offers gardening advice. Perhaps the company wants to improve its online sales of bulbs. Of course, the website will have pages selling spring bulbs, autumn bulbs and summer bulbs. The blog could also have articles about spring bulb planting mixtures; bulb planting tools; autumn bulb soil amendments; summer bulbs for shade; and many, many more topics surrounding the word “bulbs.”
Every one of those phrases around “bulbs” is another keyword phrase. By adding lots of articles that include these phrases, the gardening supplies site would be signaling to Google that it has plenty of information about bulbs. The site’s pages would show up higher in more searches that include the word “bulbs.”
The more pages of your website you can get into the top slots of search engine results, the more potential website visitors you will have.
Updated Content for Search Engines – and People
Search engines don’t like it when we allow websites to get out-of-date. Having a blog encourages people to update their websites more often.
When a new URL is added to your sitemap from a blog entry, search engines have a reason to come back to your website, crawl its pages, and possibly adjust its rankings of your pages. If your content just sits there and isn’t ever updated, search engines have no reason to re-crawl your site.
Updating your blog frequently will give people a reason to return often to see what’s new. It also gives them a reason to subscribe to your RSS feed. If you update your blog with information about your new products – or new uses for your products – you could generate more sales.
One of the key elements of search engine optimization is links – not just inbound links to your website, but outbound links from your site to others.
When you link to other websites, you show search engines that you are trying to provide a good user experience for anyone who visits your website by sending them to other information sources you’ve judged to be valuable. Because links are how search engines discover new Web pages, you’re also doing those other sites a good turn.
You can link to important pages on your website from your blog. Doing that signals to search engines which pages have information you think your blog readers will find valuable. While this won’t automatically shoot your pages into the No. 1 spot in search results, linking to pages within your site will help search engines “see” the connections between your pages and their content.
Watch out for Duplicate Content
If there’s one thing you should not do with your blog, it’s duplicating content from another page of your website…or even worse, someone else’s website. Search engines try to avoid returning duplicate content in search results. If your pages are seen as mere duplicates of other web content, that can cause search engines to rank your pages lower than they would otherwise.
There are, however, times when it’s useful for your audience to republish material from another website. That’s called syndication. You should always get permission from the author, and attribute the material to the original source, with a link back to the original article. Pages with content you’ve syndicated from others may not ever rank as well as pages where you publish your own original content – but you’re providing a good experience for your visitors. That’s not ever a bad idea.
To sum up, a blog is a great way for you to keep your website content fresh, boost your rankings in search results, and give people a reason to visit your site frequently. You don’t have to be a slave to your blog, and there’s no law saying it has to be updated daily, or even weekly. Start with once a month, and grow from there.