Win with blogging? Seriously? That’s so 2003.
I get it. You’re skeptical about blogging because you’ve been let down. Maybe there was a time you spent hours at your computer, typing your masterpiece. You hit publish with giddy anticipation, and…crickets.
“What a waste,” you thought. “Winning with blogging is a myth. Maybe it worked once upon a time, but its ship has sailed.”
You know what? I understand your frustration, anger, and the feeling that you’ve been misled. The truth is the majority of blogs fail. But not all. Our success with blogging, for Pronto and our clients, says otherwise.
In fact, if you’ve read some of the earlier posts in this series, like Why you’ll never rank on Google’s 1st page by tinkering with keywords, metadata, and similar SEO tactics” or “What is the most powerful SEO technique? (And how to take advantage of it)”, you’ll already know that we’ve landed hundreds of clients from our blogs.
But to understand what separates a top-ranking blog from one buried in the bowels of Google, we first need to understand how blogging plays into search engines’ algorithms. So let’s start there.
Understand why “Content is king” is an outdated phrase
You heard that right. The popular phrase has been heralded for decades, but it needs an update for 2019: quality, fresh content is king.
Why do we need to incorporate the words “fresh” and “quality” into the phrase? Two reasons:
- The internet is flooded with mediocre blogs covering the exact same topic. Write a hundred posts, but if that content simply rehashes other articles, your blog will go nowhere.
- A few quality posts a year leaves visitors (and Google) wondering if you’re alive. There’s more to it than this (see below), but yea, inconsistent blogging is a recipe for wasted time and a losing blog.
Blogs that succeed create both quality and fresh (or consistent) content. If you do those two things and follow the advice later in this post, blogging will improve your SEO. And you’ll do it at a price any SMB can afford — spending far less money than you ever would with Google Ads. Why is this?
Well, we don’t expect you to drink the Kool-Aid and simply take our word for it. Instead, to get to the bottom of this question, we need to examine how search engines work.
Bear these three points in mind:
1. Search engines are smitten by fresh content
In other words, they love it. The reason has to do with Google customer preferences (more on this later) and the fact that search engine “crawl spiders” are constantly scouring the web in search of fresh content. Think of it like this:
A shoe store always wants the newest pair of Nikes on shelves, so employees keep tabs on the market to ensure they’re in stock. Search engines do the same. They want the freshest, most valuable content at the very top of search. Why? A valuable new product, or blog, captures interest and customers. And that’s exactly what search engines (and shoe retailers) want.
What’s more, fresh content also tells search engines your site is healthy and active. An outdated website that blogs a few times a year is as valuable to Google as a pair of New Balance M998s. Yes, that’s a sneaker from the ’90s; and not exactly a hot seller today.
2. New articles foster loyalty
Let’s keep with this shoe metaphor for the rest of this section. Say your buying team gets a bit lazy. Instead of stocking the latest Jordans, the New Balance M998s and L.A. Lights are piling up. New shoes aren’t coming in and your shop now looks more like a rummage sale than a retailer.
How do you think your customers feel? Would they want to come back? Probably not. New products create repeat visitors interested in your latest offerings. They also show you’re current with trends and perhaps even cutting-edge (if you provide hot-ticket shoes not found anywhere else). By offering fresh, quality products, customers become loyal, repeat visits happen, and you may even become an authority if you “wow” them consistently enough. The same goes with blogging.
Your website is essentially like a shop in the mall of Google. The more fresh, quality content you produce, the more likely you’ll gain repeat visitors who hang out at your website. Google likes this, and in time you’ll see a boost in ranking because of it.
3. More blogs provide more entry points into your website
What if your store starts selling a new brand of shoes? Or hats or apparel? Now I’m not talking about off-brand products like Rolling Stones t-shirts; but more like shoe brands and clothes that compliment your current merchandise, like Reebok shirts or perhaps Raf Simons sneakers. Doing this attracts a new customer base. Blogging works the same way.
A blog that revolves around a niche keyword — whether related to a new product or a core service — creates a doorway into your website. The more blogs you write addressing customers’ specific questions, concerns, or problems, the more ways a searcher can find you online.
Crack Google’s code for irresistible, high-ranking content
Why is Google king of search? Well, remember how I mentioned “Google customer preferences” in the last section? This has a lot to do with it.
You may not have realized, but everyone who uses Google is one of their customers — even if you just use their search engine to browse the web for free.
Google succeeds because they put searchers first. They want the easiest, most effective search possible, constantly tweaking their algorithm hundreds of times each year to do just this. The result is they’re the world’s most popular search engine and advertisers pay them a premium. What does this have to do with Google’s code for high-ranking content?
Google’s secret formula for ranking content is directly related to their customer: the searcher. When you please the searcher with an outstanding blog, you please Google because the tech giant wants satisfied customers (searchers). Google then rewards you with a higher rank. Now the real question: How do you make searchers happy?
Give your customer what they want: answer their questions. That is why they’re searching on Google after all, right? Most early-stage buying processes begin with questions. So when you answer them, you’ve got a good chance to pop to the top of search.
So how can you create articles that answer questions? It all starts with the headline. Below we’ll show you how to write headlines that answer questions, using some of ours and our clients’ most popular blogs as examples:
Whose blog is this: A client of Pronto
Traffic: 439 organic visitors in 6 months
Let’s start off with an easy one. The above article is from a client of ours that launched their blog in February 2018. And as you can see from the traffic stat above, this individual blog has done pretty well.
Why is it so effective?
It answered a question on readers’ minds. And the title shows you don’t necessarily need to get fancy with your headlines — you can simply write the literal question your reader may be wondering. In this case, “What’s the life expectancy of a typical office PC?”
How can you use this formula in your headline?
Make your headline your clients’ literal question.
Whose blog is this: A client of Pronto
Traffic: 558 organic visitors in 6 months
Above is another blog we wrote for one of our clients. From the stat above, you can see it gets slightly more traffic than the first example in this section.
As for the question this blog answers, what do you think it is?
It shouldn’t be too difficult to guess. I imagine the question would be something like this: “How can I protect my computer from hardware failure?”
How can you use this formula in your headline?
Use a list post to answer one question in multiple ways. For example, the headline above provides four answers to the question, “How can I protect my computer from hardware failure?”
Whose blog is this: Pronto’s
Traffic: 2,089 organic visitors in 6 months
You probably noticed that the blog above reels in a substantially higher amount of traffic than the previous two. I’ll explain why shortly, but first, let’s examine the headline.
What question is being asked?
Just add a question/interrogative word to the beginning and punctuate the end with a question mark, and you’ll get something like this: “How can I increase my sales with social media?”
How can you use this headline formula?
When you answer a question, you solve a problem; or in other words, you offer a benefit. So ask yourself, “What benefit is my article offering the reader?”
Whatever your answer is, put that benefit in your headline and elaborate on it in your blog. As you can see, the headline “Increase sales with social media” answers a question and offers a clear benefit to the reader.
Why does this last blog get the most traffic?
The main reason is the sheer amount of blogs we’ve written. Since 2011, Pronto has published 450+ articles, whereas the two client blogs have been in existence for a year and posted less than 50 articles each. In the world of blogging, numbers matter. And remember what I mentioned earlier about website entry points?
Every blog is a potential doorway into your website. And the more blogs you have, the more opportunities you have to be found online. If the two clients above stick with our Custom Blogging program or continue blogging on their own, in the coming years, they’ll likely see the same kind of traffic numbers as our social media blog.
Also, bear in mind that when multiple blogs on your website start attracting regular visitors (like the examples above), then your traffic really begins to snowball as your cumulative website visitors and ranking increase exponentially.
Learn how to read your client’s mind
Now that you see the effectiveness of answering questions, how do you figure out what searchers are wondering? Well, you need to read their minds. And while this may sound difficult, it’s not as hard as you think.
Below are four ways to do just this:
1. Ask them. Yes, it’s that simple
Years ago, I was teaching a class on goal-setting to a group of high school students. And one of the first lessons I taught was this: tell people your goal and ask for help.
One student’s goal was to get an iPhone, and the very next lesson after I taught this principle, she walked into class sporting a new phone. What did she do? She asked her parents, and they granted her wish. While I certainly didn’t teach this young lady the importance of hard work, I did illustrate the point that sometimes to get what you want, all you need to do is open your mouth and ask.
When it comes to reading your clients’ minds, why can’t you do the same? Just email your clients and ask them what they need help with. But let’s be honest, getting people to reply online is a challenge, which is why you need to make the response-process easy. How do you do that?
I recommend you create a survey. No matter what email marketing platform you use (Mail Chimp, Aweber, Convert Kit, etc.), making a survey is super simple. To learn, type “how to create a survey in [platform name]” into Google or your email marketing service, and you’ll find an answer in minutes.
Next, devise a handful of potential customer questions, insert them into the survey, and give recipients an option to enter their own query. As long as you have at least a hundred engaged members on your subscriber list, a good response is almost certain.
2. Listen to common questions asked to customer service reps
When it comes to understanding your customers, your customer service and sales reps are at ground zero. They’re in the trenches, listening in on valuable information: concerns and questions of your clients. When you hold meetings with these employees, maybe you’ll notice that some specific client questions or concerns are often brought up. If so, answer them in blog posts. If not?
Return to step one in this section: ask your customer service and sales reps what are the frequently asked questions heard in client or prospect conversations.
To streamline this process between yourself and employees, have your customer support teams keep a shared Google doc (or the like) of questions repeatedly heard in client interactions. Use this list as a source for future blogs.
3. Consult the internet’s most famous sumo wrestler
You may have heard of a little website that analyzes internet trends. In fact, we just cited them in our last article ““What is the most powerful SEO technique? (And how to take advantage)”. The name? Well, it brings up images of one of Japan’s most iconic professional athletes: the sumo wrestler. The site is called BuzzSumo. And their purpose is to help you identify the popular content online. How do you leverage the service?
Follow the four steps below:
- Research blogs that provide products or services similar to yours
- Type the first blog’s URL into BuzzSumo. A list of results will appear that reveal the most popular posts on a given website, the number of article shares on social media platforms, the amount of inbound links pointing to each blog, and more.
An example of data from a BuzzSumo search (using Forbes as the searched site).
- Note the data and the question each popular post’s headline is answering
- Repeat this process with each blog URL
Once you’re done, look for patterns: examine whether the most popular headlines answer the same or a similar question. If yes, then you have a winner. So write a blog post that offers your own take on the question or provides a better, more thorough answer.
Sound like a lot of work? If you’re willing to pay for BuzzSumo’s service, their Plus plan can do the legwork for you. Its Question Analyzer feature finds you the most commonly asked questions on internet forums, Quora, e-commerce sites, and more.
4. Join the online conversation (or become its spokesperson)
Conversations about your customers’ most frustrating questions happen around the internet every day. Where? Well, common places include online communities and Facebook or LinkedIn groups. These hangouts are a gold mine for learning what’s on your target clients’ minds. So get involved.
There are literally thousands of communities online, some free and others paid, and you’re likely to find a group dedicated to your target clients with a quick search of Google, Facebook, or LinkedIn. In the rare case you don’t, then what?
Start a group. Actively managing an online community positions you as an authority and, as a bonus, can produce a consistent stream of customers. But remember, listen to the common questions group members ask. Write them down and you’ll have content for dozens of blog posts.
When it comes to writing high-ranking blogs, hopefully you see there’s no need to reinvent the wheel. Just find the questions already on your customers’ minds, and then answer them.
Be your clients’ hero and you’ll be rewarded tenfold
Be it Batman, Iron Man, or Thor, almost everyone loves a good superhero.
But there’s one group who loves their hero more than anyone — your customers. You make a direct impact on their lives as you solve their real-world problems. And in the end, you stand to benefit.
When you answer customers’ questions in a blog, their trust in you snowballs. You position yourself as an authority, grow a fanbase, and the clients eventually roll in on autopilot.
And, of course, Google and other search engines reward you for your feats, and you’ll fly to the top of search rankings. That’s right — no more cold calls. No more desperate emails begging prospects to choose your business. No more lowering your prices to compete with villainous competitors.
As a superhero, you get to charge superhero prices.
But don’t be fooled. You may have caught a telling word in the last sentences that allude to the challenge ahead: “feat”. The phrase “blogging is dead” is popular not because it’s true, but because building a successful blog is in fact a monumental challenge of persistence, skill, and time.
If you want an easier route to the top of Google, simply follow one of our tried and true tips in this blog: ask.
Give us a call and ask how our Custom Blogging program can help you succeed. Not only does our service provide you consistent, quality content on a monthly basis, but we can also help you transform new visitors into leads and sales. Let our wordsmiths help you by doing what they do best, so you can do what you do best — focus on running your business.
Whether you blog with us or alone, just remember to publish fresh, quality content and answer your clients’ questions. Follow the steps above, and you will reach Google’s mountaintop.