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Search engine optimization experts have been telling small business owners to blog for years. It has been standard advice for any small business owner who is trying to improve their search engine rankings. However, many small business owners are still very frustrated that their dutiful blogging habit has not resulted in strong search engine traffic.
This article will cover five practical techniques that any small business owner can use to turbocharge their blogs’ search engine optimization. Based on sound research and the latest trends in SEO, these tips will help your blog go from a nuisance to a valuable source of traffic for your business.
Make Your Posts Longer and Better
Most small business owners are simply not making their posts long enough. And there is good reason for this problem. Just a few years ago it was commonplace for SEO professionals to recommend the average blog post be written to a weight of about 400 words.
Google frequently updates their algorithm as they are trying to constantly predict what content will best serve the needs of their users. One of the recent changes they have made relates to the length of content.
A recent study of page one rankings shows that the average length of unique words for a website that occupies position one on a valuable search term is 1,700 words. This far exceeds the standard advice that most small business owners are getting as relates to their blogs.
In addition to encouraging longer-form content, Google has also made great advances in detecting thin content from deeply researched content. Small business owners need to understand this dynamic and shift their blog posts toward higher quality in addition to longer length.
“Searcher intent” has become a buzzword in the SEO community over the last year. Searcher intent is a phrase used to describe the process of deeply understanding what the user behind the search query desires to learn when they type a keyword phrase into Google.
In other words, are we really giving users what they are looking for?
In many cases, the answer for the average blog post is no. And many believe that Google is getting quite smart at detecting when users find content that does not meet their needs and bounce back to the search results quickly.
To make your blog successful, you’ll need to be crystal clear on what the searchers need and provide that information to them. It needs to be well researched and lengthy, which will be clear to Google.
Build Links to Every Post
Another trend that is preventing most small-business owners’ blogs from performing well on search engines is the lack of backlinks. It used to be that a high authority domain would bring enough links to you so that any new blog post would rank favorably.
Recent data suggests that position one rankings are often subpages on a high authority domain. This has not changed. However, upon closer inspection, you will see that the subpage also has unique backlinks pointed directly at the blog post.
Digging more deeply, you will discover that the anchor text for those specific backlinks is also well optimized. Anchor text needs to sound natural but also have a mixture of money phrases in them that signal to Google what the page is really about.
Leverage Social Media
A third avenue that many small businesses fail to leverage when promoting their blog is social media. Social media is an excellent way to spread the word about a great new piece that has been added to your blog.
Posting your blog post on an active social media account has the added benefit of attracting other followers to your social media profile. It is important to have a regular cadence of your content in your social media profile, and have a mix of content that you have produced as well as outside content that you believe your followers will find interesting.
Some SEOs believe that Google can actually measure social signal engagement and that this is a sign of legitimacy for the blog. Others discount the influence of social media signals in the Google algorithm altogether.
Everyone agrees that having a strong social presence is a great way to distribute your content which ultimately brings real users to your blog.
Build Your Email List
Maintaining a strong email list is a fourth way to push your blog readership to new levels. Many small business owners fail to understand the interplay between SEO and email because they are exclusively focused on gaining rankings. Additionally, email marketing is very unsexy and the technology is very old.
Email remains among the most frequently used technology by most professionals. As such, it is a great avenue for raising awareness about new content you have published. Most successful strategies will include building a list of regular readers who would love to hear about the latest content coming out on your blog.
You know list building is time-consuming but the payoffs are very large, especially when you consider the potential that one of your readers might enjoy and passively link to a piece you’ve written. Given the amount of effort that most small business owners put into search engine optimization, natural link placement is extremely valuable. It is also a great pattern-buster as Google tries to determine if your backlink profile is natural or manipulative.
The final recommendation to boost your blog SEO is to complete guest blog posts on other people’s blogs as well as invite others to guest post on your domain. While this recommendation may seem counterintuitive, there is no better way to build relationships and community with others than to join forces.
When you invite others to guest post on your domain name, be prepared to allow them to put in links that are useful to your readers and may also be self-serving. As long as the backlinks are highly relevant to the content being produced, and the content is of high quality, this is no problem.
After someone has put a guest post on your site, they are very likely to promote it to others, which is very positive for your SEO.
Likewise, when you complete a guest post on someone else’s domain, be prepared to promote your post after they’ve made it live. The better the promotion the more likely they are to keep in touch with you and keep you in mind as they are out discussing blogs and building backlinks.
While many small business owners know the importance of blogging to achieve high rankings in search engines, most of them are doing it incorrectly. Modern blogs need to be much longer than they used to be and satisfy the needs of the searcher’s intent with deeply researched content that is useful.
A great blogging strategy should be coupled with a strong social media and email marketing strategy to ensure that every channel available is utilized for dissemination. Guest posting is a final way to build relationships and cross-promotion between website owners.
If these five strategies are diligently executed, small business owners can expect their blog to perform well in the search engines, which will bring qualified traffic to their businesses.