Blogging regularly—and diversifying your keywords—will help grow organic web traffic.
Any content marketer worth their salt takes it as given that blogging is good for SEO. But for many business owners, the link between regular blogging and increased search traffic is less obvious. Their primary instinct is to sell, because this is what they’ve always done, and because so far it’s worked. And, in so far as they have any interest in prioritizing SEO, they want to drive traffic to their home page. How are blog posts supposed to do that?
In many ways, the effect of blogging on organic search traffic is a bit counter-intuitive. However, by looking more carefully at searcher intent, it is possible to make the picture a little clearer. And to understand searcher intent, we have to look to keywords.
What keyword search terms tell us about searcher intent.
You have the chance to claim the #1 spot on Google for one of two search terms. One search term is queried 5,000 times a month. The other is queried a mere 50. Which would you rather rank for?
Based on that information, most of us might pretty quickly op for the 5K search term. After all, what could be wrong with that many potential leads to a website? Isn’t this what SEO is all about?
Well, if you know anything about keywords, you’ve probably heard people talk about the “fat head” and the “long tail” before. Fat-head keywords are terms with high search volume. They’re only one or two words in length, and individually, they can pull a lot of volume. But long-tail keywords—highly-specific 4 to 6-word phrases—account for more total web traffic, when put together.
They also include a lot more information about what the searcher is looking for. We all probably know this from our own experience using Google. If your search term is too broad, you’re going to have more difficulty finding what you’re looking for. The more you refine your search, the more likely you will find the results you’re looking for.
Consequently, while long-tail keywords have relatively low search volume, a lot better at converting than their overly broad, fat-head counterparts. How much better? Let’s try some off-the-cuff math to work it out.
How well do your keywords convert?
We started off posing a question about two different keywords: one that is queried 5K a month, and one that is queried 50. Now let’s say that 80% of those 5K leads will bounce off your site within the first couple seconds, and that of the remaining leads, only 2% will result in actual sales.
On the other hand, for the 50-querry search term, only 30% will bounce in the first few seconds, and 15% of the rest will convert to a sale.
If you’ve done the math, you know that the difference between the 5K query-per-month keyword and the 50 query-per-month keyword has dropped to sales conversions rates of 20 and 5, respectively. The 5K keyword is still looking better, but only by a magnitude of 4 rather than 100.
One final question: what if I now told you that in order to rank #1 for the 5K keyword, you had to invest $1000 of resources. But, that for the same amount of money, you could rank #1 for 10 different 50 query-per-month keywords, each with similar conversion rates.
Now the equation is that, for $1000 of your resources, you could invest in either one keyword that will bring you 20 closed sales, or 10 keywords that will result in 50 closed sales. Which do you want now?
Of course, I’ve made up a lot of these numbers for convenience, and anyone who is guaranteeing you a #1 rank on Google is not to be trusted. But while the exact numbers involved vary, the results are the same: fat head keywords have high volume and high competition, but low conversions. Long-tail keywords have low volume, but also low competition and relatively high conversion.
How does keyword searcher intent apply to blogging?
Long-tail keywords are all well and good, but how do you use them on your site? After all, it’s very hard for any individual page to rank for more than a few keywords. After a certain point, the page loses focus and stops ranking for anything. This means that, if you want to rank for more keywords, you will have to write more pages.
This is what a good blog allows you to do. Rather than writing about too many topics on one page, your blog gives you the space to write about each topic on its own page. While there’s some strategy involved when it comes to page length and topic choice, at a certain point, the link between organic traffic and blogging becomes just a matter of math.
And since we’ve already done our fair share of table napkin math in this post, here’s another story problem for you:
Let’s say you blog twice a week.
If each blog targets a different long-tail keyword, then over the course of a year you’ll be targeting over a hundred different long-tail keywords (as well as several hundred more keyword variations).
The search volume per keyword may be fairly low, and you won’t rank for all of them. But let’s say someone searches for your keyword 10–50 times a month. That’s 120–600 times a year. And if you multiply that by all your blogs, then a year’s worth of posts could raise your visibility in search engine rankings into the tens of thousands.
Only a fraction of those searchers need to click through to bring organic search traffic to your website. And even when someone doesn’t click through, seeing your name and meta-description in the search results can still improve brand recognition down the road.
Don’t let your home page mislead you.
As we said before, part of the reason most site owners struggle to see the link between blogging and organic search is that they envision traffic coming to their website through their home page. And, to a large extent, Google Analytics will back this up. They’ll look at their numbers, see that their Home page generates the most traffic, see that a typical blog post only generates a fraction of that, and wonder what the point is.
By now, you can probably recognize how this perspective ignores the cumulative power of regular blogging. While each individual blog post may only generate a few new visitors a month, multiply that by all the blog posts you do over the course of the year and the picture changes.
The power of a good blog lies in its ability to address niche needs, highly specific questions, and a diverse audience. Not every post needs to appeal to everyone’s interests. With enough time, you can address them all.
Furthermore, the influence of these posts only grows with time. You can’t find new ways to attract more people to your home page without constantly updating and changing it. But blogs allow you to post new content without discarding the old. And if you use your new blogs to link back to older posts, those pages will only draw more traffic as time goes by.
The bottom line is, your home page will primarily draw visitors from people who already know your brand. But through your blog posts, you can cast a wider net, drawing in new visitors who didn’t know what they were searching for, until they found you.