With the rising popularity of platforms such as Facebook and Twitter — and now, Google+ — there has been lots of discussion about whether a company still needs to start or maintain a blog on its corporate site. The three biggest arguments against blogging that I encounter run as follows:
- Social media conversations reduce blog commenting. Companies that want to interact with customers can do so more easily via one of the big public platforms.
- From an SEO perspective, blogs, in and of themselves, add less value than they once did. Since other SEO activities can improve rankings more effectively, why exert energy maintaining a blog?
- Blogging requires a great deal of time: researching, writing, editing, promoting, responding to comments, building a community around the blog. With marketing budgets being slashed, with personnel forced to wear a hundred hats, marketing efforts must be focused on where the return is greatest, and with blogs, the ROI is difficult to calculate, at best.
There is an element of truth in all of these points. However, I continue to feel very strongly that blogging is very much alive and well. Yes, the days are gone when any old blog could have some measure of success; today the blogging bar is set quite a bit higher. But business blogging is not dead, IF certain things are done. Here are the most important IFs to execute, IFs that correspond directly to the three objections noted above.
A business blog works IF it is socially integrated. While it’s true that social media platforms have captured a lot of conversation formerly held on blogs, a lot of the conversation revolves around …blog posts. That being the case, a business blog is a firm’s centerpiece for social media engagement. Blog-driven conversations are occurring now on a scale far greater than when they were confined to blog comments alone, but in order for a company to participate, it must have an active presence on Twitter, Facebook, and perhaps a few other platforms.
A business blog works IF it is properly optimized. In the old days, Google loved blogs in and of themselves, and gave blogs the algorithmic benefit of the doubt. As spammy blogs increased in number, Google’s love affair with blogs began to wane. However, the pendulum is now swinging in the other direction: Google has recently increased the reward for fresh content, making quality blog posts more valuable.
Quality is indeed the other part of the Blog-SEO-IF equation. Google’s recent “Panda” update was introduced as part of its ongoing effort to penalize spam content and reward quality content. If blog posts are a meaningless regurgitation of keywords, Google is now smart enough to ignore them no matter how frequent they are. But, if a company’s blog is relevant, informative, insightful, useful — Google will recognize and reward it.
A business blog works IF it has a strategy behind it. A major reason why firms feel the ROI of a blog is rather fuzzy is that they neglected to establish a proper strategy for a blog to begin with. Blogs can serve a multitude of marketing purposes, from thought leadership to lead generation. Each goal has a set of metrics attached to it, and the ability to gather accurate data is steadily improving. If a blog’s purpose is wisely and clearly defined, and then pursued intensely, a blog should be able to carry its weight in the marketing mix, and then some.
Brad Shorr is Director of Content and Social Media for Straight North, a Chicago Internet marketing agency. The firm specializes in helping middle market B2B firms, with clients that do everything from block glass design to merchant credit card processing. Brad has been blogging since 2005 and writes frequently on social media topics. Follow Brad on Twitter and connect with Straight North on Google+.