In Search of Traffic: How to do all the SEO Tricks in Today’s Wall Street Journal Report with a Business Blog
Today’s Wall Street Journal Report on Search Engine Optimization offers some great advice for businesses that want to boost their search engine rankings. Their approach combines traditional search engine optimization techniques with blog-based evangelism.
But while the article mentions blogs here and there, it never states explicitly that blogs cover most of what the experts they interviewed recommend without a lot of fuss. After the jump, I’ve broken the article down into its basic components and explained why blogs can help you do just about everything the Journal article suggests.
“Search engines like it best when…keywords appear naturally in the site’s text,” says the Report, “so a good strategy is to add a generous amount of useful content that uses the keywords frequently, such as beefier descriptions of informational articles.”
Good advice, to be sure. But they missed two key points:
- Search engines like content that changes frequently. Static content with good keywords is less helpful than dynamic content that is constantly being updated. Since blogs are constantly changing, they’re the best way to pepper your site with keywords the search engines will continue to notice.
- Search engines like easy-to-find content with well-structured HTML. The best practices of blog design already make the content easy to find and because the HTML is dynamically generated, HTML mistakes are less frequent and easier to fix.
Think More Narrowly
“The big choice for small businesses is which search phrases to focus on. Some companies concentrate on just a few phrases, while other tackle 20 or more. The best number [of keywords to focus on] depends on factors such as how many different products are sold on the site, the number of pages on the site…and how much time or money a company is willing to spend redesigning its site to attract search engine’s attention.”
They forgot to mention that blogs really are the most cost-effective way to accomplish this. Bloggers who are conscientious about integrating target search terms with their post titles, category headers, and on their sidebars give search engines the right message about why their site is relevant.
The time and money aspect of this is especially important, since blogs are a bolt-on option that can be easily integrated with the rest of a site’s navigation. Yes, redesigning the rest of your site to be search engine friendly is helpful. But if you do one thing, bolt on a blog at
blog.yourdomain.com and start writing.
Be The Expert
“Search engines are getting more sophisticated, experts say, and increasingly they’re rewarding sites that offer high-quailty, useful consumer content. For instance, becoming an “evangelist” on your industry an posting helpful consumer information on your site is likely to boost its popularity and ranking.”
We can’t argue with that. If your site doesn’t provide people with anything they can use, why would they ever visit? This is what John Battelle meant when he said that all businesses must now be publishers. Again, blogs provide users with lots of handy content, categorized and cross-referenced, and dynamically generated so that they get all the information they want without wasting time scanning through stuff they don’t care about.
Get Lots of Links
“Many Web sites that do well in search rankings spend time ‘link-building,’ or trying to coax related sites to post links to them. Sometimes companies contact Webmasters directly and try to forge relationships, or they get a link in an online search directory such as Yahoo Directory, which costs $299 a year.”
If you buy into this, I have a bridge in Brooklyn to sell you. The best way to get linked to is to provide interesting content that other people find useful. Blogs are all about linking to other useful content. That’s why they’re so handy. If you host your blog at your company’s domain, you’ll get all the inbound links you need without wasting time sending out stupid e-mails that start with, “Dear Webmaster,…” or money on a directory.
Get Some Help
“For many small-business people, optimizing and asking for links can get technical and time-consuming. So an industry has spring up in recent years to help businesses with their search results.”
Guess what? We’re a part of that industry. But we’re not going to spend a bunch of time poking around your company website, adding keywords and cleaning up sloppy code. We’re going to set up a blog engine and get out of your way. With 30 minutes a day and a passion for what you do, you can do most of your own SEO. The rest can be done with plugins.
“Marketing experts advise that most businesses are best served by complementing optimization with some paid ads on search engines. It can also be a faster route to getting good exposure in search engines.”
All true. We recommend that our clients bolster their search results and blog traffic by purchasing ads. But one of the downsides of advertising is that your ads don’t show up in RSS feeds of search results from the major search engines. That means that bloggers — who spend a lot more time in their RSS readers than they do clicking on ads — won’t see your ads or come to your blog. And if they don’t do that, how can they ever link in?
“Small businesses should also consider focusing their efforts on one corner of the Web. Many small, locally-based businesses, such as dry cleaners and restaurants, don’t need Web traffic from around the globe. Instead, they want people in their area to find them easily online. The solution: local search. These listings pop up, sometimes with a map or customer reviews, when someone searches online for a business type in a particular geographic region.”
Local search optimization is a great idea. And the best way to make sure that your local business does better in search against local competitors is to start a blog that features local information your customers care about. If you’re a restauranteur who specializes in seafood, blog about how you select the freshest fish from markets all over the city. If you run a dry cleaning business, blog about all the great little boutiques near your storefront where fashionistas can buy gorgeous clothes with “dry clean only” tags.
I don’t mean to poo-poo search engine optimization. It’s the single most important consideration for any business that cares about Web presence. But gaming the system with SEO tricks can only get you so far. If you’re ready to optimize your site organically, blogging is really the best option.