There is a massive amount of information about why blogging is good for business available on-line. If you are still unsure or unconvinced then here is a good place to start.
Apart from the branding and customer engagement benefits, blogging can also help your website make friends with the search engines from a technical point of view. This is often discussed in on-line marketing circles but how exactly is blogging good for SEO? Read on….
Google Freshness Update
“Search results, like warm cookies right out of the oven or cool refreshing fruit on a hot summer’s day, are best when they’re fresh. Even if you don’t specify it in your search, you probably want search results that are relevant and recent.” Google Official Blog, Nov 3rd, 2011.
Google released the freshness update to it’s search algorithm toward the tail end of 2011. It was designed to place more importance on fresh new content. It was actually intended to emphasise topical and time-sensitive blog posts but in practice, ended up effecting around 35% of all searches.
So how does this effect my website? In a nutshell, you need to give the search engines a reason to visit your site regularly otherwise they simply won’t spend resources on constantly re-indexing a site that never changes. The best way to do this is by adding content to your site on a regular basis. Most blogging platforms like WordPress allow you to do this easily without requiring any programming skill.
Most will allow you to host your blog on your main domain for example www.mysite.co.uk/blog. This is handy if you have an e-commerce site. This blog will then become the centre of your on-line social activity because you can share this content via social networks like Facebook, Twitter & Pinterest and of course Google’s own Google+ system. Integrating a WordPross blog into an existing site can be a little tricky but well worth it in the long-run. If you just need a brochure site then you can simply build the entire site in WordPress.
Stu’s Tip #1 – If you have an e-commerce site, hosting a blog on your domain is a very smart move. This is because you can get fresh new content (blog posts) on the domain even if you don’t update your main site very often with new products or content. Also, if you write a superb blog post, people are likely to link to it. Back links mean domain authority & page rank, and these mean, you guessed it, better rankings in the search engines.
The Technical Stuff
Google are very cagey about how often they crawl websites. In practice, on average Google appears to index a website every 2 weeks or so unless you give their web crawlers a good reason to return sooner. For example, if you were to publish blog posts everyday that are good enough to make people want to link to them, then theoretically, your site will be indexed on a daily basis. If you don’t update your site regularly then you can be looking at a much longer period between indexes.
“Crawls are based on many factors such as PageRank, links to a page, and crawling constraints such as the number of parameters in a URL. Any number of factors can affect the crawl frequency of individual sites”. Google Webmaster Tools Forum 2012.
Make of that what you will! Google’s crawl process is totally algorithmic and cannot be manipulated. Some Webmasters get confused about this and think they can change the crawl frequency in Google Webmaster Tools or using sitemaps. In fact, you can only slow it down. This is only applicable if Google is hammering your servers bandwidth. Google’s web crawler can easily take down a server if it hits a site at full speed.
Stu’s Tip #2 – Search Engines are pretty smart at automatically finding popular blogs but they are unlikely to pay much attention to your small corporate blog – particularly if it is new. Because of this, it’s a good idea to manually submit your blog to the search engines using the appropriate webmaster tool-set (see Google’s below) . Also, make sure you submit the blogs RSS feed to blog search engines like Technorati.
Let’s say you’ve been doing some legit link building and you’ve managed to get a few valuable back-links to your blog posts from suppliers or guest bloggers and so on. Your site won’t actually benefit from these links in terms of page rank and SEO metrics until the site is re-indexed. Therefore, having a blog on your domain is a must.
Stu’s Tip #3 – You may have the best e-commerce site in the world with an impressive range of products but the fact is that people are much more likely to link to your blog content than your products or categories.
Stu’s Tip #4 – Don’t be tempted to put the blog on a subdomain (unless you have a special reason for doing so). This is because Google will not pass positive SEO metrics from a subdomain to your top level domain so your superbly written prose will be for nothing even if everyone links to it.
Stu’s tip #5 – How do I know when my site was last cached by Google? The quickest way is to search for your business or site name. Your site should be near the top of the search results (if it isn’t then you may be carrying a penalty). Hover your mouse over the listing and then move it over the arrow to the right of the listing. Click on where is says ‘cached’ next to the pages URL. Hey presto.
Incidentally, if you click on the text only option, you can see the page pretty much how Google sees it. Also, this page view will highlight the keywords that you searched for as they appear on the page. This is really handy if you are targeting a specific search term with that page. Happy days!
To sum up then…
Regular blog posts are likely to get the search engines attention and your site indexed more often – and the reason you want your site indexed more often is to benefit from all those lovely back-links that you’ve been getting from people linking to your excellent blog posts. So as well as all the branding and engagement benefits, having a blog on your domain is a win win situation.