Do Blogs Drive SEO Rankings? [Case Study]
In the summer between high school and college I got a job doing social work in the inner city. The one bright spot in that devastated neighborhood was a corner restaurant that served delicious chili. I ate there often after work, sweaty and spattered with paint, and in keeping with the impoverished surroundings, I left lousy tips. The waitress there was my age, but I assumed that she and I had nothing in common. After all, I was college bound.
Assumptions can get us into trouble. A few months later, a hundred miles away, I bumped into her on campus. I wanted to crawl under a rock!
Sometimes we marketers do the same thing: we make decisions based on the information around us but we fail to question the underlying assumptions. That’s why I was both impressed and apprehensive when a client asked me to prove something I had simply accepted on faith: that blogging boosts rankings in search engines.
Sure, we’ve heard that in seminars. We’ve heard it from Google. But how do we really know? How do we measure it?
My client said that he never saw his blog posts come up in searches, nor did they show up in his Google Alerts. He wondered if we had set up his blog correctly, or if blog posts were worth the effort. As an executive, he had little time to devote to blogging. Like all of us, he struggled to get keywords into his posts and to make his posts interesting.
His skepticism was a good thing. It forced us to measure the effect that a blog post has on search engine rankings. In fact, our client was so skeptical that we did the test twice, measuring rank before and two weeks after a properly optimized blog post.
In Google search results, the relevant page on the website soared from rank 11 to rank 4 on the keyword “IP65 enclosure,” and from rank 12 to rank 2 on the keyword “din rail enclosure.” That’s a huge increase, one that could impact traffic, leads, and revenue.
Remarkably, the posts themselves didn’t rank well at all (although we did see a small increase in traffic to the blog). The link juice passes from the blog to the website.
Why does blogging work for rankings?
- Each time you post, Google indexes a new page.
- If the post has been properly optimized around a keyword, and if it links to the relevant page on your website (the page optimized for that keyword), then Google gives that page increased page authority.
- The algorithm favors fresh content, and so – for a while at least – that page of your website jumps up the search engine rankings.
According to a survey (Survey Results: Impact of Blogging on Search Engine Optimization ) conducted by Lee Oden of TopRank Online Marketing, 95 percent of respondents incorporate blogs as part of their search engine optimization efforts and 87 percent “successfully increased measurable SEO objectives as a direct result of blogging.“
Although search engine ranking was one of the reasons that respondents cited for having a blog, it ranked behind other goals, such as:
- attracting inbound links,
- increasing traffic, and
- generating leads.
That’s a little surprising to me, as our tests showed blogs are remarkably effective for search engine rankings.
My advice is simple. Don’t assume that you will get the same results that we did. Maybe your keywords are more competitive, or maybe your posts are not optimized completely. Instead, test for yourself.
See where you rank now for a keyword, put up a post, and then measure again. (You’ll need to use an SEO tool like Web Position Pro or HubSpot’s keyword tool.) Then you can tell your boss, your stakeholders, and those colleagues who grumble about writing blog posts that you are not making assumptions; you actually have the numbers!
If you want to learn more about SEO for your website, then get our 12-page audit ”Roadmap for Boosting Your Search Engine Rankings.”
Written by Mark Johnson: Goldstein Group agency vice president who helps companies find and keep customers.