Algorithm Killed the Blog Star, or: How should you integrate content on your site?
If you’ve built a website for your brand and decided to start a blog, hold on for just a second – the blog as content house, so popular only a few years ago, is no longer the best way to serve your brand. The first in a series of articles
“We’re building a new site!” one of our veteran clients announced, “there’s going to be an online store with tons of products, pages of information on each one, and on-site payment. Oh, and a blog too.” Our clients are not alone – commercial companies who own large brands often feature links to the company blog in their headers. This blog will usually contain relevant posts about what the company does, as well as the occasionally buying guide or some other form of marketing content.
The decision to start a blog is the result of an SEO and content policy that was pretty popular a few years back, based on the common notion that the more content on the site, the greater its chances of moving up in search results. But times have changed, Google has changed, and the blog – or more accurately, the way you create content for your site – has to change too.
Let’s start from the beginning. As we see it, today’s blogs have two major problems:
1. Poor execution – The blog, which seemed to be a good idea somewhere back in 2016, is a format that was supposed to help the big brands promote themselves on Google. The presumption was that as more content appeared on the company’s site, the more its assets would be promoted on Google. Or in short: more organic entries mean higher conversion rates. The underlying mechanism was to respond to user queries by connecting to specific user intents – to which the business could not respond on its “main” site – in order to spread out a diverse content array.. For example, on a website that sells lamps, it would make sense to write professional content that explains all about lighting. That’s how you grab consumers as they research the topic, and connect them to the solution offered by your company. So, where’s the problem? Well, the uploaded blog content was often mediocre and amateurish, to the extent that it sometimes seemed to only be there for the sake of, well, being there. It wasn’t connected to user intent, there was no motivation to action, and the level of writing was often substandard. Ultimately, the blog became no more than a marketing tool, which led to users responding cynically to what the blog represented.
2. Separating the business from its content – In many cases, the blog is programmed as a separate content area in the site’s information architecture. The assumption was that anyone reaching one of the site’s pages would read the header, see the world “Blog” and click to read content. Such behavior, which may be true of publishers, does not usually work when it comes to commercial websites. Also, once you move the content to a separate area, it’s forgotten and also treated differently. It’s no longer the main site, it’s “the Blog” – that thing we created because we had to. And that’s how we miss the importance of the blog as content you should create to educate or retain existing consumers and attract potential new clients.
So, is the blog dead?
Our answer would have to be yes and no. In its current form as a storage room for random content articles, there really is no point to the blog. It won’t move you up on Google, it won’t respond to user intent, and it won’t increase conversion rates.
So how should we integrate content on our site?
1. Your content should not be separated from your main site in a non-semantic form like a “blog”. It should be inherently connected to the business, to the brand and its products, in terms of content as well as technically. That’s why we recommend an SEO study that maps your content according to realms of content – topic clusters. For each such cluster we build a comprehensive pillar page, from which smaller content pages are derived to cover all subtopics. We recommend reading the original article on Hubspot, that provides a step-by-step explanation of the rationale behind this method and how it may be used in the most efficient manner.
2. Content is part of an overall strategy that is connected more profoundly to the hierarchy. To put it simply, it should be part of the way your website is organized from the get-go, integrated and merged with your pages and categories on your site.
3. There’s no point in creating a Gantt that mandates X content uploads each month – rather, you should map all your content worlds, from which you can derive an annual content plan that will promote your search engine status.
4. Good content is content that responds to your users’ intents – those who search on Google and those who are your target audience but still don’t know you exist. We think the separation between marketing content and SEO articles is artificial and outdated. A good article will cover both ends, if it has a good understanding of the target audience and sufficiently addresses all relevant professional aspects of the topic.
5. Some content articles were meant to serve big campaigns or marketing moves, and they seem not to have any value as items that can promote your site organically. It’s good and recommended to have these too, but you should understand their purpose and limitations.