Yes, adding a blog to your website can drive traffic – but only if you do the job right!
Is your business website like a paper catalog from the 20th century?
Don’t feel too bad if it is; you’re not alone! Many businesses still use their website much as they would have used a printed catalog 30 years ago. A little bit of information about the company, maybe a message from the CEO, some contact info, and then a vast amount of product information and, possibly, a shopping cart.
That’s great for a thick, glossy, catalog that can sit on a purchasing manager’s desk for a few months until its eventual replacement with the spring or fall version of much the same information. The problem is, the Internet is alive, always changing, new replaces old at a prodigious rate and a static site that might see a few updates as the seasons change is doing your brand and business no favours! Right now, your website is becoming invisible to the world and to your prospects.
Keeping Your Online Brand Visible And Vibrant Sustains Your Business
There’s a proviso in all of this: if you pay for all your traffic through Facebook, Twitter, Google and the rest then, by all means, skip the blog. However, if you want to save money, grow a new crop of prospects, build commitment from your clients, and even create product and brand evangelists then everything that follows is for you.
When I started my first online business, almost 20 years ago practically all traffic came from search engines, links from other sites and directories. Advertising was in its infancy. To get traffic to my product pages I built sites designed to communicate with readers using particular search terms, and I wrote content designed to help them to understand how the products we were offering solved readers needs better than those of our competitors. Those pages, I refer to as my ‘Silent Salesmen’. Once I had invested in creating the pages, writing copy to address the needs, concerns and fears of my audience, then the work was largely done. Those pages could last for years, bringing in new clients at no extra cost. Some of those pages are still working a decade or more after being written.
Here’s a pair of charts that illustrate the benefits of investing in content as opposed to buying traffic:
Figure 1: ROI on content creation and PPC compared.
Thanks to Krystian Włodarczyk at unamo.com for the work in his article about the relative benefits of SEO compared to PPC. In this case though, for SEO, substitute blogging. Once your content is created, it does its work for as long as the page exists. With advertising, while the campaign runs, traffic will be present, but will not increase over time – unless your budget is increased. Of course, as soon as the campaign inevitably ends the traffic drops away.
Here’s Why Blogging Works To Increase Traffic
Search engines are ravening beasts that feed on the new and different. They will gobble up fresh, original content and present it to an almost equally hungry audience of human readers through the results to search queries. If your content is measured by the search engine algorithms to be authoritative and fresh (worth reading in human terms) then your blog posts can be expected to be presented to searchers, and thus you will see traffic to your pages. Well-targeted, well-written content can be indexed in the major search engines within seconds of being posted to your company’s blog and website. Yes – seconds! That’s how hungry the ‘bots of Google, Bing et al. are!
For context, I had a content heavy website to which the team was posting multiple items of fresh content every day. We could see our work indexed within 30 seconds for hot, trending topics. Of course, most of the time, you won’t expect to see such rapid results, but timely information will be presented to your audience in a very timely fashion – if you produce the right kind of content.
Internal Traffic And External Traffic – Both Are Good, Both Necessary
Up until now, I have been writing about traffic from search engines bringing new readers to your site, but that’s only a part of the story. All that new traffic is only going to be of benefit if you convert that external traffic to internal traffic.
So, what does that mean? In simple terms you need to get the people who hit your blog pages (external traffic) to move onto your product pages, creating internal traffic – the kind of traffic that earns money. Getting that movement needs some thought and planning. In simple terms, every blog post that you create should have as its purpose the goal of turning a reader into a prospect and then into a buyer. The content your team puts on the blog should inform readers about their problems, about how your company can address those problems and show them where to go to solve those problems – that will often mean preselling your offers and then providing a link to either more information (reports, white papers etc.) or directly to a product page.
Your Blog Is A Funnel
Your ultimate goal is, in most cases, to increase the amount of traffic to your product pages and convert that traffic into profitable sales. Adding a blog to your website will add traffic to the site and enable you to increase the volume of traffic to various other parts of your site.
Your new blog becomes a part of your marketing/sales funnel serving to qualify your readers, to increase the confidence of your qualified readers, and make them into prospects. The newly qualified and confident prospects are then directed to relevant pages that enable them to carry out profitable actions elsewhere on your site.
The next part of the puzzle is how to create the content that will be most effective at helping your new visitors to get to your product pages to spend their money. We probably need some posts on that subject, including how to add video content to your pages productively and profitably.
At this point, some might be saying ‘what about the Search Engine Optimization (SEO)?’ and that’s a great point. There are two responses: first is that you should already have a person, or team, tasked with managing the visibility of your site in the search engines, your blog becomes a part of their ongoing workflow.
Secondly, if your site was already being crawled and indexed by the search engines then new, fresh, well-written content will, in large part, take care of itself.
Well written content will already contain relevant keywords and their authority adding synonyms. You probably link out to relevant other pages which show you are part of a viable ecosystem and, hopefully, some of those to whom you link are already linking back and referring to your content.
So, there you have it. Adding a blog to your company’s website will drive traffic and in ways that might not be immediately apparent.
Please let me know in the comments about your experiences with adding a blog to your site. Were there any unexpected pitfalls? Did you get much extra traffic, or more importantly, was the traffic profitable?