Blogging as a Content Strategy for Local SEO? – You’re Doing it Wrong!
Posted on September 28th, 2011
I just read a great post by Yousaf Sekander, a local SEO colleague based in the UK. He was speaking about the conundrum faced by many small businesses who’s expertise is in running their business, not in being a blogger and spewing out content to satisfy the search engines and that silly internet mantra of “content is king”.
Think about it, what is the prerequisite of being a good locksmith or a mechanic or a painter decorator? Is the prerequisite being “good content” creators? I don’t think so.
I know this is an issue many small local business owners struggle with. I’ve had this conversation over and over with clients. They don’t know where to start with blogging, nor are they sure they have the time. Not to mention the fact that they get inundated with bad advice on the topic of how to blog for their business.
Now, I originally was going to write this as a comment on Yousaf’s post but it got long winded and I felt it deserved to be a full blog post instead. It’ll also illustrate my point better as a stand alone post. Read on.
Hello – You’re Blogging to the Wrong People
Where most local businesses fail on content generation (additional blog content – not the home page, services, about us, and contact pages) is targeting the wrong audience.
Take the locksmith example. Typical blog posts you’ll often see might be things like;
- 5 things to ask before hiring a locksmith
- How to recognize a reputable locksmith
- The Chicago locksmiths people trust most is AAA Locksmiths, LLC
- just another self promotional fluffy fluff blog post, powered by wordpress
What these locksmiths, or their hired gun seo’s, don’t realize is NOBODY CARES. Really they don’t. You see the same crappy stuff over and over from plumbers, lawyers, or just about any local business trying to go down the content creation route. Boring topics. Crappy writing. Keyword stuffing. They’re just doing it wrong.
Don’t blog to customers, they don’t care. Is your average Joe local customer gonna come back and read a locksmith’s, or plumber’s blog again and again? Will they subscribe to the RSS feed for that? Pfft! Fat chance of that.
Who Then is Your Blog Audience?
I tell most my clients, those that are thinking about going down the blogging road, the blog should be a separate portion of the site and is primarily NOT a marketing channel. Instead it is an authority building tool that should be directed to their peers, not their customers.
Blog about the industry you are in. Trends, changes, challenges in marketing, hiring, taxation, regulations, education, etc… It is the professional development arm of your website. Engage primarily with others in your industry (maybe not those in your immediate competitive local, but that rule is not set in stone).
This kind of approach will make that locksmith a better locksmith and a better business person through information exchange with others in the same industry. It’ll foster link building far better than the crappy self promotional blogging that nobody wants to link to, at least not naturally link to. Others in your industry who are blogging, serious industry blogging not crappy self promo blogging, can be engaged, linked too, and they may link back as well. Industry level controversies may get covered by the press. If you’re at the forefront of blogging about those issues you may get a mention, and possibly a link from a local, regional, state or even national newspaper, or a prominent industry website, or even government website.
I stumbled across a rather stellar example of this recently. The people at Energy Vanguard, an HVAC training, consulting and design firm in Decatur, GA are doing a top notch job of blogging about technical issues and standards for high performance and energy efficient home cooling and heating. Their home page is a common Page Rank 3 yet their blog page is a PR5 – that’s link authority for you!
Look at a few of their posts and check out whose commenting – other HVAC professionals from around North America. Look at the content of the posts. Often quite technical stuff – not quite what the average homeowner in need of a new HVAC system needs, or even wants, to actually know. And it’s working for them. Check out what they wrote about blogging over the past year and half, what they learned and how it’s been great for business.
Freshness is a Stale SEO Tactic
I hear fresh content mentioned as an SEO factor far too often. I don’t believe it! Well, not entirely.
A new blog post can get some extra ranking love for its freshness, but freshness wears off – rather quickly. And that blog post is not ranking for the primary search terms customers are using to find a local business. In the case of a locksmith, or any other kind of local business (landscaper, painter, lawyer, dentist, plumber, restaurant, etc…..) it is usually the home page of the website that is ranking for these primary terms. Separate internal service pages may target other offshoot phrase variants and related business services. These static pages can rank and continue to rank for years and years without ever so much as a single edit, providing they are worthy of ranking in the first place (good on-page SEO, keyworded anchor text linking to them, domain age, etc…). A fresh blog post just won’t be outranking those pages for those kinds of terms.
It’s in the long tail you may see a blog post get great rankings the day of posting it only to see it slowly slip away, to where it actually deserves to rank in the grander scheme of things, over the next days and weeks.
So if you’re thinking you need a blog on your local business website solely for satisfying the “freshness requirement of SEO” and that it’s somehow going to help you rank better for your primary search terms just because it’s fresh, well, you’re probably wasting your time.
Oh, I See What you Did There
Dear reader, let me guess, you are probably a fellow SEO practitioner, most likely in the local search marketing space. I’d bet money on it. I’d probably win that bet far greater than 50% of the time, making it a profitable bet. Why? Because my audience here on my blog is mostly other SEO’s. Look at all the other prominent SEO blogs out there. Who is reading them? Who is commenting? Who is sharing links to those posts on twitter? Who is taking the discussion further on their own blogs, and linking back to their sources of inspiration for the topic? It’s other SEO’s!
My blog builds my authority in the industry. It’s mostly other SEO’s that interact with my posts here. I gain a few links here and there that way too. These are internal links to the specific blog posts, but that link juice flows through the site and in turn helps my service pages rank for terms my potential customers can find me with. Some customers, small business owners looking to hire an SEO, mention that they checked out the site and even looked at some blog posts. They didn’t actually read them so much as just scanned through them. The content of the blog posts is often over their head but those that mention it say it seems like I know what I’m talking about. And that’s authority, real authority that goes beyond what Google interprets as authority based on link profiles.
See, this is why I ended up writing this as a post instead of a comment. Yousaf got himself a couple links out of it. I might too. There’ll be a few comments from some of my local seo colleagues, and it’ll make the rounds on Twitter for a bit. There’s a good chance the majority of potential customers that find my website will never read this post, and that’s just fine. I’m not really blogging to them anyways.