When Blogging Won’t Help You Rank Better
“Build it, and [they] will come,” said Kevin Costner’s character in the movie Field of Dreams. Buying into one of the bigger myths in SEO world, many people operate by the adage, “publish it and they will come.” That is, if you just keep publishing blogs, search engines will find you and your search ranking will improve.
Actually, they will find you but may penalise your site rather than reward you. Let me explain.
Yes, a dynamic website will always trump a static one: a site that has unique, fresh content will always be more likely to rank over a site without it. And a blogging component is crucial to produce this dynamic content.
So, what’s the problem? Two things.
The Content’s Quality
Dynamic content is not just content that’s new or fresh, but it’s content that’s deemed valuable … by Google.
Blog posts displaying your latest work (if you’re a photographer or artist) or ones that detail your personal musings may be valuable to your direct audience (your existing followers or fanbase), but they don’t offer value to a wider audience. In other words, Google does not attribute any weight to these sorts of posts and doesn’t consider them worth offering in search results. Why?
Because content valued by Google is content that is:
- topical or newsy (helpful, informative)
- well researched
- well referenced
- well written (good grammar, limited slang, etc.)
- fairly comprehensive (longer posts tend to rank better than shorter ones)
Google wants to offer the most trustworthy, authoritative content to its clients: namely, searchers. And to be frank, Google is not interested in my personal opinion (unless I’m considered the authority voice on a certain subject) or my latest work of art (unless I’m the next Picasso).
In other words, you can press “publish” every day, but you may well be wasting your time if the blogs are deemed invaluable to Google because of a lack of quality (as they define it). In fact—
… you may not just be wasting your time, you might actually injure your site’s credibility.
Why? Herein lies the second point.
The Content’s Engagement
Dynamic content is not just new or fresh content, but it’s content that engages an audience. Google is not just looking for content it deems valuable in a vacuum but content that appears valuable to a relatively large number of people. In other words, content that seems popular. Here’s what Google had to say,
Links help our crawlers find your site and can give your site greater visibility in our search results. When returning results for a search, Google uses sophisticated text-matching techniques to display pages that are both important and relevant to each search. Google interprets a link from page A to page B as a vote by page A for page B. Votes cast by pages that are themselves ‘important’ weigh more heavily and help to make other pages ‘important’.”
They’re looking for trusted content and one way they determine this is by measuring two aspects:
- Social Media Cues: how often the post is liked, shared, and commented on.
- Backlinks: how often a post is “quoted” by other webmasters (via a hyperlink back to your site from theirs).
Think of it this way. Who would you recommend? A source that is well referenced on social media and frequently quoted on other reputable sites, or a blogger with just a website and a Facebook account?
In other words, if you’re pressing “publish” every day but no one else is liking, sharing or commenting on the post, or no one else is linking back to it on their site, you’re not just wasting your time, but you risk being penalised for spammy content.
Yes, if Google’s algorithm assesses your posts and finds a myriad of posts without any (or very little) engagement, they’ll conclude: “Hmm. Looks like this website is writing blogs purely to manipulate search rankings.”
And let’s be honest. They might have a point.
If Google finds a high proportion of ‘manipulative’ posts on your website, they’ll deem your posts as spammy and penalise your site. Google Panda is Google’s strategy to target what they call “low-quality” or “thin” sites.
How will you know if you’ve been penalised? You’ll simply drop ten (or more) places in the rankings. And recovering your ranking is very hard to do.
So, how do you get this right from the outset?
Glad you asked.
Blogging That Will Help Your Ranking
1. Ask yourself why you’re blogging.
If it is just to increase your search rankings, you’re likely to be be found out at some point.
So, what is the right motivation for blogging?
To add value to the internet community.
Ask yourself, what quality content or resource can I produce that will enrich others? (And enriched, they’re more likely to share it with others and reference it on their online platforms.)
Here’s Google again,
The best way to get other sites to create high-quality, relevant links to yours is to create unique, relevant content that can naturally gain popularity in the Internet community. Creating good content pays off: links are usually editorial votes given by choice, and the more useful content you have, the greater the chances someone else will find that content valuable to their readers and link to it.”
I’ll say it again because it’s so important. What 2-3 unique resources can you produce that will add value to your industry and the internet community?
2. Create comprehensive topical blog posts that are well researched, well referenced and well written.
Do your homework. Quote valid sources. Use punctuation correctly. Avoid that CAPS LOCK button. And use emojis judiciously.
Does that mean you cannot create blogs featuring your latest work? Of course you can. These kinds of posts, what we call portfolio posts, serve your existing fanbase. However, remember that they won’t rank well and work towards a ratio of 1:1; that is, for every portfolio post you should do a topical post.
Just two blogs a month?
Yes. It’s not about the quantity but the quality and the engagement. This leads to the next point…
3. Spend as much time (if not more) on promoting your post as you did in producing it.
Creating a strong topical posts takes time. And once you’ve done it, you want as many people as you possibly can to read it, right? This is where promotion comes into the equation. In Beyond Great Content, we look at this need in more detail.
Flicking the post URL onto your Facebook page is a start, but it needs more strategic thought than that. While this is a subject in and of itself, asking yourself these two questions will get you going:
♦ How can I promote it across social media in a way that generates as much engagement as possible (likes, shares and comments)?
The following are a handful of ideas to use on your social media thread along with your post link:
Catchy headlines and intriguing visual media
Pithy, punchy call-to-action introductions
Questions, riddles and emojis (tactfully)
Incentives such as giveaways and competitions
♦ Who would find value in my post and how do I alert them to its value?
There are no easy answers here. We’re talking about networking. Plain and simple. You’ll need to build an authentic network of clients, followers and peers. Then, when you reach out to them, and inform them of your resource, they’ll see the value you’re adding and opt-in.
Yes, blogging is an important part of the SEO mix. Done well, it is crucial to good ranking.
Done poorly, blogging can in and of itself hurt your site’s credibility and hinder your rank-ability.