And I’m back once again to tell you the same thing I’ve told you before… over and over again. If you are trying to rank higher in the search engines, you need to blog more. That’s all there is to it. Let me share this little stat with you.
Companies that blog:
I first heard that stat at a conference in 2013. I thought, could that really be true? We had a blog, but we weren’t really updating it much. Maybe three times a year? So we decided to run an experiment and see if blogging would change anything for us. Starting January 1, 2014, we started blogging everyday. Here’s what happened.
Fun, right? The traffic to this little website went from 668 users in December of 2013 to 1,775 users in January of 2014, more than doubling in one month. And the only change we made was to start blogging daily. By the end of 2015 we were getting 5,000 visitors a month, more than 7 times more traffic than we had originally had.
And it wasn’t just that we got more traffic. We got more leads too. I’ll be the first one to tell you that having more traffic isn’t always the answer. If we’d increased our traffic by 7x but didn’t increase our leads, what’s the point in that? This is of course for a business that needs leads – if your website’s revenue source is ads, then increasing traffic without leads is valuable.
Why does blogging work?
Blogging serves as a potent tool for driving increased traffic to company websites, primarily due to its capacity for delivering fresh and regular content updates. Search engines prioritize websites that consistently provide relevant and up-to-date material. By using blog posts as a platform for regular updates, businesses send a signal to search engine crawlers that their site is active and dynamic, enhancing the likelihood of improved indexing and higher rankings on search engine results pages (SERPs). And if you have an XML sitemap set up on your site (and you should) connected to Google Search Console, then Google knows right away whenever you add a new blog post.
Another important factor in blogging’s traffic-generating potential is its role in building backlinks. High-quality blog content serves as valuable and shareable assets that other websites within the same industry or niche may find useful. As these external sites link back to a company’s content, it not only drives direct traffic but also elevates the website’s authority in the eyes of search engines. Backlinks are a fundamental aspect of search engine algorithms, playing a big role in improving a website’s overall ranking and visibility. But they are super hard to get. I get multiple emails every single day asking me to allow guest posts or to link to another website. The reason I get these requests is because people are link building. I ceremoniously trash these requests. Link building is hard work, but the best way to get backlinks to your website is organically, by creating content that people want to link to.
Search engines want to deliver results from websites that possess expertise, authority, and trust (E-A-T). Having high-quality content is a trust factor, and even if you never optimize a single blog post, your traffic will likely increase just by virtue of consistently adding fresh, high-quality content. The chart from above, when we were blogging every day? We didn’t optimize a single one of those posts. (Don’t take this to think optimizing blog posts is bad – it’s not, and can have huge benefits. But you’ll probably get benefits from blogging even if you don’t optimize your posts.)
Ready to get started with blogging? Here’s what you need to know.
Ok, I’ve convinced you, and you want to get started! Hooray! Let’s get down to the main questions you probably want to know.
Do you have to blog every day like we did?
No. We took this experiment to the extreme. I’m kind of obsessive that way. But what matters most is consistency. Blogging four times one week and then not blogging again for four months, that’s not going to do you any favors. Even blogging once a month, if done consistently, can provide benefits. Probably not as fast as blogging every day. Most experts agree that blogging 2-4 times per week is the optimal number of posts for many industries.
But there’s some nuance here, based on industry. If you are in the healthcare, news, or legal industries, then you have a lot more competition and blogging more often is going to be important. If you are in a local industry, like a local realtor or local service business, you can drive more traffic with fewer posts. But keep in mind that quality is more important than quantity.
How long should your posts be?
When we did our daily blog posting experiment, the rule of thumb was blog posts should be 300-500 words. And that was pretty easy to commit to and produce, at least for me. I can write 300 words in my sleep. But times have changed, and Google isn’t looking for websites that product the most blog posts, but that produce high-quality content, and one of the factors they use to evaluate content is post length. The current recommended blog post length is, generally, 1,500-2,500 words. This is five times longer than when we started blogging, and it’s a much tougher job to accomplish! (I know, I write 3-4 blog posts every week.)
Does every blog post have to be that long? No. Different types of content can be different lengths. Announcements, news and case study posts can be shorter. So you can mix up your posts each week. Say you want to do one informational blog post each week and then a second post that’s a case study, you’ll want to hit that 1,500-2,500 words in the information post, and then 500-1,500 for the case study.
However, I would recommend that none of your blog posts be less than 500 words.
Quality is more important than quantity. Google would rather see two high-quality blog posts than five thin posts. And don’t just throw words in the post to have more words. The words need to be informative, useful, and purposeful. Your blog posts need to answer questions and have information that people are searching for.
What should you write about?
This is an evergreen question if I’ve ever heard one. What should you write about? And this is going to be different for every company and every industry, but here is some basic information to help you come up with some ideas.
- Who is your target audience and what questions do they have? Use a common question you get asked and write a blog post that answers it. Your blog post title can be as simple as the question you are answering. Just answer it truthfully and thoroughly.
- Can you write tutorials? How-to and demo posts get a lot of traction. Some companies are afraid that if they show their customers how to do something on their own, they will lose business, but this generally isn’t the case. Most people know how to mow a lawn and clean their house, but lawn and cleaning services still do vast business. Moreover, even if the person does learn how to DIY whatever you teach, your post may generate goodwill in the audience’s mind, which could lead to more business down the road.
- Case studies provide great opportunities for content. Everyone loves a good before and after. Feature a client (with their consent, of course) and what you’ve done to improve their business, or how your products helped someone.
- Write about industry trends. Everything changes, and with those changes comes opportunity to write about those changes. What’s changed in your industry? What changes are coming? Interior designers and realtors could write about changes in home staging or curb appeal that leads to more sales. Contractors can write about new trends in building construction or new compliance rules they must follow.
- New tools and products? Write about it. Are you using new tools or are you selling new products? Feature these and explain why and how they are benefitting you or could benefit others.
- Tips list. Everyone loves a good tip list. Create a top ten list with “must haves” or other types of lists that are relevant to your industry.
- Interviews are great! Find someone you can interview about their experiences and expertise.
These are just a few ideas. I find that using AI to generate article topics is a great way to get the blog topics flowing. Try asking your customers what they want to know, maybe even doing a survey on social media to get ideas.
Final Blogging Tips
I have a few final pieces of advice for you as you begin your blogging journey.
Write for people, not search engines
Your target audience is people. Think about what your audience is searching for. If your content doesn’t resonate with readers, it’s not useful. That’s not to say you shouldn’t optimize your blog posts. But the optimization is second to providing useful content. Don’t let your SEO goals overrule your content being high-quality content people want to read.
What’s the difference between content written for people or written for search engines?
How many SEO experts does it take to change a light bulb, lightbulb, light, bulb, lamp, lighting…
Trust me, you can tell.
Choose a schedule you can stick with
It’s easy to see the stats and think, wow, I need to blog four times a week. And blogging four times a week is great. But it’s a big commitment. Can you realistically produce four high-quality blog posts a week? If not, find a number you are comfortable with. Consistency is key. If you choose a super ambitious consistency, you may find yourself burning out and unable to keep up. Even once a month has value if done consistently.
When we started in 2014, we blogged every day for a year, and then we switched to four times a week and out traffic continued to grow. In 2022 and 2023 I got complacent, and my blogging was sometimes as infrequent as once or twice a month, and our traffic took a hit. It matters. For 2024, I’m trying to stick to three high-quality posts every week and this takes a lot of time to do well. I sometimes spend two hours on a blog post.
Add internal links
What are internal links? An internal link is just a link on a page or post of your site that links to another page or post on your site. For example, I wrote a blog post not long on with an SEO cheatsheet for optimizing a single blog post, and I think that post is relevant to this post, so I’m going to include a link to it. Internal links help Google find your content and establishes relationships between content, which helps establish your website as an authority on any given topic.
And never put the link on the words “click here.” In fact, don’t ever use the words “click here.” People know to click on links. Just make sure that your links are distinguishable from regular text.
Add external links
External links are links to other websites. You may be thinking, I don’t want to add external links, because I don’t want people to leave my site. If your link provides value to users, then it’s important to include, because your goal is to provide value to users. Having an external link is kind of like providing a bibliography or footnote – it adds credibility by providing support for your argument.
Include relevant photos
A picture is worth a thousand words (okay, so not really the same as writing 1,000 words) but they add a lot to the blog post, make it look better when shared, and, when done right, can provide SEO benefits. Using your own photos is best if you have them, but you can find plenty of free stock photos (try: Pexels or Unsplash) or even buy them (Adobe Stock or iStock).
Don’t forget to make sure that you have analytics installed
You won’t know if your blogging is working if you aren’t measuring. Set up analytics and search console and check on it regularly to see if your traffic and conversions are increasing.
Write in your voice
Nobody wants to read your PhD dissertation when they come to your blog. People want to get to know you, your personality, and what you bring to the table. That’s why I don’t recommend using AI to generate your blog post and instead use AI to supplement your blog posts. I use AI a lot, and I use it in my blog posts when I need explanations and step by step directions that can be easily generated. But AI doesn’t really know you, who you are, or your voice, so it’s not going to sound like you. Back when I was a young teacher, a student asked me how we knew if they were plagiarizing. I kept a paragraph ready at all times to show them. When you are writing in your voice, and you switch to another voice, it’s usually pretty obvious.
(You can often tell AI generated content because it uses the word crucial a lot for some reason and includes lots of lists and sublists.)
Blogging can provide huge benefits to your business, but it does take time, commitment and dedication. Remember, it may not happen overnight, but it should happen in time.
Amy is the co-owner, developer, and website strategist for Sumy Designs. She's been making websites with WordPress since 2006 and is passionate about making sure websites are as functional as they are beautiful.