Working for a digital marketing agency, I often meet companies that run an active corporate blog at high cost but still struggle to get any significant amount of traffic to their website. “No one reads my blog”, they complain. This situation is hardly a surprise given the common startup content marketing myth that simply writing a few posts that target some selected keywords will put you on track to exponential organic growth. WRONG! This content marketing strategy stopped working about 10 years when content shock set in meaning was more free content being published on the internet than we could possibly consume. Today, for almost any search query or question, we can find the entire first ranking page on Google plastered with pretty much the exact same answers and text. So what’s the solution to breaking through the content shock and making sure your blog gets read?
The Basics: The Holy Trinity Of Organic Traffic
Before diving into possible solutions for boosting your corporate blog and ensuring more people find, read and share your articles, it’s important to understand what I call the ‘holy trinity’ of organic traffic. That means the three main factors that decide whether you’ll rank among the first three entries on Google, or simply disappear in the latter search engine ranking pages where even the most eager user won’t find you.
Obviously, Google’s official SEO algorithm specifics are a very tightly-guarded secret, and there are thousands of ranking factors at play here. However, through testing and analytics and leveraging the knowledge of the growthhacking community, some rules can be identified. Additionally, every now and then some statements leak out from Google employees such as Andrey Lipattsev confirming that content and links are amongst the top three search ranking factors. Based on research, data and trial and error, I’ve discovered that organic traffic drivers can be divided into three main categories: UX, domain score and content:
User experience refers to factors such as how fast your website loads, how modern your design is, how easy it is to navigate your site and to what extent you’re fulfilling users’ search intentions. Whilst search engines aren’t able to evaluate the UX of every website on the internet manually, they do take into account various indicators such as bounce rates, time on site and page views per visitor to help them estimate the quality of your UX.
By and large, the more content you have, the more keywords you can cover. Corporate blogs are so popular because they are an easy way to increase your SEO footprint whilst simultaneously adding value for your buyer personas. Blogs help Google to understand what your business is about. By targeting the right keywords, optimizing for SEO and creating high-quality pieces, content marketing can be very powerful.
III Domain Authority
How trustworthy is your website? Are you getting a lot of backlinks from high-quality websites or is your website virtually irrelevant to Google and other search engine robots? Are you distributing your posts across different platforms and are people sharing them on social media? Domain authority is the third element of the ‘holy trinity’ of securing organic traffic.
No one reading your blog? Here’s why, and how you can change that:
If you’re struggling to gain traction on your corporate blog, the main reason is probably that you’re falling short on one of the above ‘holy trinity’ factors. Getting two out of three right just isn’t enough. To really kickstart your blog and gain rapid growth, all three points (UX, content and domain authority) need to be outstanding and working together in harmony.
If you’re producing outstanding content and have a high domain authority, low UX can still hold you back significantly. If you’re excelling in domain authority and your UX is excellent, not publishing enough high-quality content will still mean you’re invisible to search engines. Finally (and this is especially common among startups), if your UX is great and you create amazing content, low domain authority will still stop you from exponential growth.
To help you avoid these issues, here’s a comprehensive list of actionable tips to help you excel at each specific part of the holy trinity:
How To Boost Your Corporate Blog
- Use a modern design theme for your website and blog and update it every few years. Have you ever landed on a website that looks like the last survivor of the dotcom bubble and left immediately because it seemed so old? I think we all have. That’s why a modern and aesthetically pleasing design is crucial for UX.
- Structure your website clearly so that user will be able to navigate intuitively with ease. If users can’t find what they’re looking for on your homepage, they won’t stick around long.
- Optimize for mobile. According to Think With Google, mobile searches surpassed desktop searches in 2015 and the numbers are still rising today. This means it’s imperative to optimize your websites for smartphones. If you’re not sure whether your website is mobile friendly, you can test it using this free tool from Google.
- Fast loading times are more important than ever. According to research by Kissmetrics, if your site needs fours seconds or more to load, 25% of users will abandon it. This means you have to ensure your page loads fast. If you’re not sure how fast your page loads, try Google’s PageSpeed Insights.
- Fix your broken links and error pages. There’s nothing more frustrating than opening a link hoping it will contain the information you’re looking for, only to find out it’s broken. Use a tool like SEMrush or Moz to identify any broken links and fix them.
- Scale down on your pop-ups and make them more effective. If new users who don’t know you have to make five clicks just to read an article on your blog, they will probably just get annoyed and leave instantly due to the negative user experience. Set up and test your popups with users in mind so they only show up when people already know who you are and are more likely to convert.
- Focus on user search intent. A big part of great user experience is to give people what they want. That means that instead of automatically writing blog articles for all your keywords, you’ll need to think about what the search intentions actually were for each keyword, and therefore what the most suitable type of content would be. Blogging works well for keyword queries where people want to find specific information, but users with transactional intent might prefer to find a product landing page where they can purchase directly with one click.
- Publish more often. The more great content you create, the more opportunities you have to rank on Google. Data from Hubspot backs this up by showing that an increase in frequency correlates with organic traffic growth.
- Create high-quality, helpful, long-form content. Increasing post frequency alone isn’t enough, so don’t prioritize quantity over quality! For instance, publishing lots of brief articles is a useless strategy since the internet is already full of really good articles and in-depth guides from high domain-authority sites. In order to outrank them, your content needs to be ten times better.
- Publish regularly and over longer amount of time. If you’ve just launched your blog two weeks ago and have a total of three articles, Google’s crawl robots might not even have indexed your blog yet. Give it time and publish in consistent intervals. Don’t publish five articles in one day only to go AWOL for half a year.
- Don’t write about yourself all the time. It might sound obvious but you’d be surprised how many marketers fall down on this point. Have you ever enjoyed having conversations with people that only talk about themselves and how great they are? Exactly. Ergo, for commercial content, use landing pages rather than your blog.
- Craft useful content for your buyer personas. The purpose of your blog should be to provide value for your target market. To understand your audience, their interests and habits, conduct some proper audience research. This will help you to write better content for them and share it on platforms where they’ll actually see it. Additionally, if you’re working with a bigger team, freelance writers or agencies, make sure to create a style guide to achieve higher consistency amongst your content, to maintain a coherent brand voice and to improve the experience for your audience.
- Add high-quality images and videos to your posts to help your readers understand them better. Additionally, images bring new opportunities to rank on Google. According to Jeff Bullas, including images in articles increases total views by over 94%. Video is even more powerful. Clearly, nobody wants to read plain text, but don’t overdo it either. The Blog Pros study of the most successful blogs demonstrates that adding one piece of visual content for every 350 words leads to the best performance. Warning: make sure your images are of high-quality and that you have the rights to share them, otherwise you’ll risk diminishing your brand integrity.
- Optimize all your images. To get the most value out of visuals, use free tools like Picresize to reduce file size of images to under 100mb in order to avoid slow loading times. Moreover, add your target keywords to the image title, description and alt-text.
- Add meta tags. While meta tags might not boost your organic traffic directly, they do boost it indirectly. By creating better, more accurate meta tags, users will know what your pages are about when searching for specific keywords. This will reduce bounce rate and indicate to Google that your user experience is strong. Therefore, add meta title, description and slugs to your post that include the keyword and explain your post.
- Use keyword analytics to target keywords that you can win. If your domain authority is low (Domain score <10 on SEMrush; <20 on Moz), it makes little sense to go after keywords that are already covered in good articles on the most popular sites already. Instead, try to go after long-tail keywords and hidden gems that other marketers are yet to discover or focus on.
- Be human. As a data guy, it’s easy to forget that numbers aren’t everything. Add author profiles and assign authors to your blog posts to be more authentic. Additionally, don’t take your SEO obsession to the extreme. Google algorithms are constantly improving so there is no need to use the exact keyword twenty times and risk making your articles sound unnatural. By including keyword variations and synonyms, you’ll make your posts more enjoyable whilst still getting those SEO boosts too.
- Include your keywords wisely and strategically. Mention your keyword in the main title, h1 title, the introduction, conclusion and a few times in the text. As a guideline, Yoast recommends a keyword density of 0,5-2,5%. Using tools like Yoast for WordPress will also help you make sure you’re not missing out on any major SEO best practices when publishing content.
- Structure your content. Whilst a structured website helps improve UX, a well-organized blog also means search engines can better understand your content, leading to an improved SEO performance. The latest best practices point to utilizing topic clusters, pillar content and internal backlinks in your blog articles. Try creating an editorial calendar to help you map out your content plan and make sure you’re publishing regularly.
- Add outlinks to high-quality websites. A common misconception from SEO beginners is the reluctance to include links to other sites. In reality, there is no reason to fear outlinks hurting your SEO, unless you link to spammy or low-quality pages. In fact, if used correctly, outlinks can actually be very useful to both the reader and SEO since they indicate quality, sources and add credibility to your posts. However, don’t add outlinks to anchors that include keywords you want to target since this will be counterproductive.
- Update your best posts. Google rewards fresh content, so if one of your most popular posts is starting to lose traction and falling down the SERP, give it a boost by updating it. It can be as simple as incorporating recent data but it might help you jump up in search rankings with very little work.
Boost Your Domain Authority
- Avoid unintended duplicate content. Search engines penalize users if they create duplicate content to manipulate search rankings, but even if we set up duplicate content without bad intentions, it can impact our SEO negatively. Therefore, don’t try to trick Google and be sure to put measures in place to stop scrapers from stealing your content.
- Republish your content across different platforms. Yes this might sound contradictory to the previous point, but duplicate content, when used wisely, can also help you reach a bigger audience and increase the ROI of your content. Check out the tips from Google and Moz on how to use duplicate content without harming SEO scores by using 301, canonical tags and other techniques.
- Build more high-quality backlinks via marketing outreach and guestblogging by contacting blogs and media with strong domains. Link-farming and link exchanges are barely effective anymore and, in some cases, might even lead to your site being penalized by Google. However, there is nothing wrong with securing useful backlinks. Guestblogging on relevant platforms with high domain scores and with original content is a good strategy to build more links, increase your audience, position yourself as a thought leader and boost your SEO performance.
- Eliminate bad backlinks. As indicated above, not all links are good for your domain score. That is why you shouldn’t get obsessed about the number of backlinks but instead focus on the quality of those links. To clean up your SEO score, identify and get rid of any bad backlinks pointing to your domain. Yoast has actually created a great guide on how to do just that.
- Make your content shareable. Google has been fairly secretive about the direct impact of social engagement on SEO, but all signs point to social media being a big factor: Hootsuite ran an in-depth study recently that revealed the benefits of social media shares on SEO, Kissmetric argues it’s important as well and Neil Patel even calls social the new SEO. Therefore, make sure that you optimize your content for social media: use images and videos, create social media tiles, add descriptions with relevant hashtags and include your brand name. Additionally, add social media share buttons to your blog so users can spread the word with a single click. Tools like Sumo are available for free, simple to integrate and easy to use.
We can think of SEO like a cat-and-mouse-game between search engines and growthhackers. As search algorithms continue to evolve, it becomes increasingly clear that the best way to perform well is to keep the user in mind and try to offer them the highest value through your site. By focusing on the Holy Trinity Of Organic Traffic, you can make sure that you’ll never say “no one reads my blog” ever again. Therefore, your corporate blog should offer stellar UX, create high-quality and optimized content for your users, and have a high domain authority. Finally, don’t forget to leverage the best paid and free digital marketing tools for startups in order to save time and money.
If you have more questions about how to improve the SEO performance of your corporate blog, feel free to schedule a free 30 minute call with me on my digital calendar.