Why Should I be Blogging and using Social Media for SEO?
Both blogging and social media allow you to publish and share new content with your target market and promote the idea of recency. Recency is another SEO important ranking factor which looks at how recently you’ve updated your content on your website or the other online properties you control which is directly linked to your website. This idea of recency feeds directly into relevancy for certain keywords, which is why in some search results (for example, news related searches) you would see the most recent news or content about that issue at the top ranking.
There are also some SEO professionals who have provided evidence of correlation between websites which have high social media activity and those which rank strongly. Although correlation doesn’t necessarily mean causation as this could alternatively mean that the websites which are active on social are the key players in that particular niche and just coincidentally were active on social as well.
But let’s bring it back to basics: Google loves content, especially when it’s fresh and relevant and Google also loves links, lots of relevant links (and with both blogging and social media you’ll be linking to your own website as well as relevant external sources). Given that both blogs and social media build these assets that Google loves to see, it’s a no-brainer to be blogging and updating your social media.
What is Blogging?
A blog is a website which publishes individual and separate posts which are usually presented in a reverse chronological order. Blogs have evolved from publications written by a single author to multi-author blogs as well as micro-blogging. Other types of blogs include vlogs (video blogs), podcasts (audio blogs), MP3 blogs, photoblogs and art blogs.
A blog is a noun and a verb because as a noun it refers to the website publication and as a verb it means to write content to publish on the blog. “Blog” is a truncation of two words: “Web Log”.
Blogging Platforms and SEO Considerations during Setup
There are quite a number of blogging platforms available, some of them are on the cloud and some of which are applications that would need to be installed on a server and maintained. Many blogging platforms can also double up as a Content Management System (CMS) which is a fancy word for a piece of software that can run your website, from storing your content, administration to publishing it on the internet. There is a plethora of solutions out there from open source to enterprise level software. There are some solutions out there which are simple and text based with no database (a database is essentially like a massive spreadsheet which stores all your data, the majority of websites use this system – and if you’re wondering how it’s possible not to have a database well these websites store the data as either individual text files or a delimited file instead of a traditional database). The popular blogging platforms include: Tumblr, WordPress and Blogger (owned by Google).
Depending on your setup and business requirements you could have any number of solutions implemented on your site. The main player in the blogging space is WordPress. WordPress is also often used as a CMS for small to medium business. Other big players include Drupal and Joomla which are both application based and will need you to maintain it on a server. WordPress can either be self-hosted or you can pay for it to be managed on the cloud so you won’t worry about the technical details.
Many e-commerce websites are run on either the likes of Magento or others which are both pieces of software which requires a server; or on a cloud solution of which there are many like Shopify, Big Cartel and Big Commerce. Some of these solutions may have an in-built blogging solution, or may need an install of WordPress and have it accessible as a part of your domain.
It’s important that you have your blog located on the same domain as your website. If you locate your blog on a separate domain or as a subdomain, your blog will be treated as a separate website and all your efforts would be diluted. To gain traction, a blog on a different domain or subdomain needs additional work to build its own individual relevancy, popularity and trust separate to your main website.
However, if you do hit a wall on technical issues, a compromise may be required and the blog located outside your main domain – but this should be a last resort. A lot of CMS’ should be able to handle (static) content and a blog attached as a subdomain. For e-commerce platforms which typically don’t have a great in-built blogging solution, a talented development team should be able to setup a blog accessible and running as a subfolder to your website’s main domain.
More SEO tips with Blogging
Blogging is a very powerful part of your SEO strategy. Blogging is an important ongoing activity which allows you to keep sharing content to your current and potential customers. Adding more pages via your blogs to your website provides you with more opportunities to rank for your target keywords.
In terms of pure SEO, your website should be architected in a way that it promotes your main target keywords. Your blog however provides you with an opportunity to support that strategy by allowing you to create internal links (complete with relevant and contextual anchor text) wherever it is relevant. Also it is a chance to rank for your long tail keywords and other target keywords which couldn’t fit into your website hierarchy. Your client, brand manager, product manager or other stakeholders may not sympathize with your purely SEO approach so some compromises in your strategy may could be agreed upon.
Whilst you maintain your blog, keep in mind the underlying SEO principles: keyword research, on-page optimization and link building. Having a content plan for your blog will help you formulate a longer term and consistent plan to grow your visibility across your portfolio of target keywords. Align your keyword research with your content plan by creating a spreadsheet with proposed topics with draft titles, the blog category it will be located as well as the target keyword it will be focusing on as well as the search potential for that keyword.
With blogs and on-page optimization, ensure that you’ve ticked the boxes around the technical website of your blog. Ensure that the sitemap for your blog is also linked from the robots.txt for the whole website and also submitted to Google and Bing Webmaster Tools. Whichever on-page optimization you would run for your website, run it again for your blog.
Your blog posts can also be link bait – if it is interesting or engaging enough to start a dialogue or to motivate someone to share, it will add to your link building strategy. Ensure that you link back to relevant blog posts and key pages on your website – but don’t overdo it, a handful of links should do which if you were to put a figure on it around a link per 100 words. Also make sure that the link is relevant and with its anchor text written within the context of the paragraph and not simply one of those links that says “click here”.
What is Social Media?
Social Media in a nutshell is a group of internet applications which allow the publication of user generated content. The social media ecosystem is a quite large and diverse group of online websites which includes Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Pinterest, Instagram, TikTok and many more!
This post isn’t about social media strategy so any in-depth look at executing social media strategy would be outside the scope of this post.
Should I maintain a Social Media Presence for SEO?
Yes and no. It depends on your competitors. There has been studies and feedback from the SEO community that there is some correlation for companies which have great rankings and have a strong social media activity and following. However, that’s a very general finding and the only way you can answer it for yourself is to examine your competitor’s online presence.
You can score your competitor’s social media presence to rank them objectively. How can you do this? Social media usually have the following variables: followers, likes, your posts, people’s responses as well as their number of shares and comments. To score someone’s social media you could multiply together these components to get one score: [For a month’s worth of data] (number of your posts * number of comments * number of likes * number of shares). You can use this score to compare the activity levels of your social media against your competitors. The number of followers metric can be used as a separate number to compare the number of people who actually have some affinity with the brand.
Another perspective about social media and websites which allow you to upload your own generated content is that it gives you an opportunity to share links back to your own website (and hance generate a backlink to your own website).
If you do decide to use social media as a part of your SEO strategy, you will most likely require relevant resources to maintain your social media. Your business or Your client may risk losing customers if prospects and clients were to start a conversation through social media and no one responds in a timely manner.