This week’s post is an answer to a reader’s question.
SuZen Marie asks: My brother has no interest in blogging on the website I built for him and I know this is not helping the site’s SEO. Is guest blogging or a featured column the way to go? Does “borrowed” content count to boost SEO ranking as well as original content?
You’re right to worry about having content on your brother’s website. In today’s competitive landscape, excellent content is the way to win at SEO.
That being said, since you have a site that provides a local service, local SEO tactics, can get you pretty far. Ideally, though, you want to rank in both the “map” results as well as with a pure organic listing so that you have multiple opportunities to get the click.
It all comes down to how competitive your niche is. With some niches, some basic on page optimization and enough citations (local SEO listings) might be enough. But those niches are getting rarer and rarer, especially if you are in a bigger city.
Here’s what I would look at:
- Check out your competition: Are your competitors mostly “brochure” 5 page websites, or have they invested more into their online presence?
- What is the level of their social media activity? The site itself may not have a lot going for it, but your competitor could have a strong Facebook page that could be helping their site. Keep in mind that winning at social media requires some content, even if it is just quotes on a Canva image.
- No blog? Ok what about your foundational content? Not every successful site has a blog. But successful websites usually have content that address frequently asked questions and common objections. For example I was looking at the Farmer’s Insurance web site the other day. I couldn’t find a blog, but they have a series of guides and articles called “Farmers Inner Circle”. If you have been doing your business long enough (or you have done market research), you’ll find that most of your prospective clients have common frustrations that are driving them to consider your service, as well as common concerns about that service. Having content that addresses that is what I call “foundational” content. Not only is it great for your site’s SEO, because you can rank for more searches and also gives your site a larger content footprint, but it also helps with your sales process. If a prospective client can get most of their concerns and questions addressed before they pick up the phone, that’s a win for you. So even if you decide against a blog, a collection of evergreen articles that you create from keyword and market research could be a win. And be less of an effort to maintain on an ongoing basis.
Using other’s people content on your site
If you really hate creating content, all is not lost. You can curate content and/or take guest posts.
- Curating content: While I wouldn’t recommend using curated content for 100% of your site’s content, it can fill in the gaps. I would aim for 30-40%. Curating content means publishing content from another source and then adding value by adding your unique perspective. So instead of having to write a full blog post, you write a paragraph or two commenting on the content. Of course it is best to not copy and paste the entire article, and it is good etiquette to link to the source article. One way to do this is to set up a Google alert that tracks news on your niche, you publish the news and your comments on it.
- Non text content: Don’t forget that we have evolved to a multi-media web experience. Maybe your brother hates writing, but doesn’t mind chatting in front of a camera or sharing pictures of happy clients. Sure, it’s stronger for SEO if you surround the video or image with explanatory text content, and you’ll want to do the optimization of the video/image. But lots of people who hate to write don’t mind expressing themselves in another way. Video blogs can share well on social media too.
- Guest posts: As SuZen points out, guest posts and columns can fill in a content gap. Ideally you want that post to be unique to your site and not published anywhere else. This will mean that you either have to give the writer an attribution link back to their site or pay them. Republishing an article that already been published elsewhere will not help your site very much. When Google finds the first copy of that article, that becomes the source and Google won’t give any credit to sites that have duplicates of the article. It doesn’t matter too much for SEOif the duplicate credits the original or not – although a link is the right thing to do. So if all possible, if you take guest posts, make sure that the content is original and unique. Copyscape is one tool that bloggers use to verify uniqueness of guest posts.
Blogging is not everyone’s thing, and that’s Ok, but to win at SEO consider creating at least some unique content on your site that Googlebot and your visitors find useful. It doesn’t have to be you that writes it but the key is that it has to be unique and of good value for your site’s visitors.