Lee Odden

Survey Results: Impact of Blogging on Search Engine Optimization

Recently I posted a series of informal poll questions about blog SEO on Twitter to gain insights and feedback which were leveraged to construct a more in-depth survey.  I used the longer survey to collect information on how companies are using blogs for search engine optimization purposes and what kind of impact those efforts have. Essentially, I wanted to get opinions on and answers to: “Are blogs still important for SEO and why?”.

The topic of business blogging and search engine optimization as distinct and synergistic tactics have been explored here many times. A large number of companies are familiar with the process of starting a blog, but few have experienced the challenges of maintaining and growing a blog for more than a year.

Understanding long term benefits is key to sustainable business blogging.

Part of the goal was to tap into a variety of experience levels with this survey and capture insight into the SEO impact blogging.

Participants were solicited here, on social networks and vial email that blog. Here’s a simple breakdown of the 326 survey respondents:

  • 28% Internal Corporate: Advertising, Marketing or PR
  • 42% Agency: Advertising, PR, Search Marketing, Social Media, Marketing
  • 30% Independent Consultant or Small Biz CEO

One of the biggest questions we were looking to get insight on was the degree to which marketers are using blogs as a SEO asset.

95% of survey respondents indicated that they do incorporate blogs as part of their search engine optimization efforts

While the majority of respondents  indicated SEO as a benefit to blogging, several comments indicated that there are resource issues:  “We did but resources became an issue. Will be bringing it back in 2010.” And that the applicable use of blogging for SEO outcomes depends on the market:  “Sometimes… depends on client and market and product/service”.

Blogs at the most basic level are straightforward or “easy” to start. But the real question is whether they deliver on the SEO promise so many blog marketers make. Our survey results show that 87.4% of respondents “successfully increased measurable SEO objectives as a direct result of blogging“. Savvy SEO practioners made comments like, “Absolutely. In fact, we make sure to create a small, quality cluster of blogs on different platforms and Class C IP’s to support their communications initiatives.”

Of the 12.6% that didn’t find measurable SEO results from blogging, comments like “starting to but since we don’t post comments from readers on our blog I think we stall any momentum that we are generating from our posts” and “Site owners are not able to follow through on keeping up with their blog.” provided insight as to possible reasons why.

How important are blogs as part of a SEO strategy? The majority of respondents (90%) cited blogging as important, significantly important or a primary SEO tactic. The remaining 10% rated blogs as somewhat important or irrelevant.

Many company marketers, public relations and communications professionals are not aware of what the SEO benefits of blogging are. We asked, “What SEO functions do blog(s) serve for you?”. While the responses were fairly evenly distributed, the most popular SEO benefit was that blogs provide an easy way to create new, optimized content. Content is the cornerstone for any search engine optimization or social media marketing effort, so it makes sense that content creation was so popular.

Overall, links were the most often cited SEO benefit from blogging: Attracting inbound links from other web sites or cross-linking from blog posts to corporate site content. Community building for content/links promotion and Increase crawl rate/frequency were also indicated as important SEO benefits from blogging. Additional social and SEO benefits from blogging mentioned include:

  • Social Media word of mouth
  • Show a human side to a business and another side to the more “static” web site
  • Communicate back with customers
  • Can surprisingly create evergreen #1 search rankings for odd phrases we might not have necessarily thought about in planning.
  • We’ll serve ads through a network that allows blogs to publish our ads
  • Traffic from twitter and the increased exposure that goes with that
  • Establish authority in the marketplace
  • Promoting products, services, sales, expertise … I come at it from the UX side – credibility, authenticity
  • Blog is ideal for long tail search terms
  • More long tail ranking
  • Blogs dovetail well with social media efforts like twitter
  • Focused silos around specific markets and functions key to the client.

With any new marketing effort, setting expectations for time to see results is crucial for allocating resources and budgeting. We asked, “In what time frame do you typically start to see an increase in measurable SEO performance indicators (links, ranking, traffic) as a result of blogging?” The most common answer was somewhat shorter than expected, 0-3 months.  54% of respondents start to see SEO benefits from blogging very quickly. This short time frame should be very encouraging to those hoping to use blog published content to gain better search engine visibility.

Since many of our respondents were professional search marketers with the ability to properly optimize a blog and promote content to attract links, time frames for results would be very different than someone who does not know how to implement blog SEO tactics.

94% of bloggers reported seeing measurable SEO benefits from blogging within 12 months

Measuring impact is important and certainly, the definitions of success from blogging will vary according to the purpose of the blog. We asked, “What are the most important measures of success when using blogs as part of a SEO effort?”. The responses to this question were fairly evenly divided with increasing company site traffic at the top closely followed by a desire to increase company leads/sales. Other important metrics included inbound links, referrals or leads directly from the blog, web site rankings and blog traffic.

Additional success measures from blogging included many benefits besides search engine optimization, which is very important in our opinion. Starting a blog purely for SEO reasons will make content sustainability difficult in the long run. A blogging strategy must meet meet other goals as well, especially those that involve engaging customers or interactions with readers. Other success measures from blogging include:

  • Increase overall online exposure. They won’t know about you if you don’t say anything, participate
  • Contribute to company’s bottom line goals in at least a semi-direct way
  • Branding and owning SERPS
  • Increase quality of site traffic
  • Improve visibility and prominence in search engine results is by far the most important, it’s all about search
  • Branding
  • Incease visibility and demonstrate the company is “up to date”
  • Increase of Peoples (incl. existing customers) awareness of things and what you (the business) does and can do for them. It is not really quantifyable, but noticable and very important. It impacts all other figures mentioned, but indirectly.
  • Increase positive blog mentions
  • Increase Transparency which in turn builds loyalty.
  • Puts a face on company; great customer service signal; illustrates USP over competitors
  • Depends totally on strategic objectives – for some it’s leads/sales, for others it’s thought leadership
  • Increase overall community interaction
  • All – It depends on the objectives of the campaigns – be it traffic, sales, awareness, etc.
  • The only real measure of success is conversions linked to organization goals (sales or whatever)
  • Increased engagement on the blog or elsewhere
  • All of these are important measures, but sales has to be number one.
  • I don’t believe that blogs take the place of traditional marketing/sales tactics… they just make them easier and more credible
  • Increase colloquial “voice” of the CEO/CMO/CTO/Social Marketing specialist. Finding and amplifying the voice of the company/founder/visionary.

Getting a blog implemented in a company is not always an easy task. Resources can be slim as well as expertise and confidence in the ability to achieve a return on effort within a given period of time. We asked, “What have been the most common objections from internal or external clients to implement blogs (with or without SEO benefit)?” This question received the most comments of all in the survey.

67.2% cited resource issues as the most common objection to implementing a blog

Other reasons cited included issues with content sourcing (42%) or simply not seeing the benefit (35%). Regulated industry or legal issues got in the way for 19.3% and lack of measurement round up the answers with 12.9%. Many of the comments about obstacles to blogging centered around time, resources, measurement and a lack of awareness.

On the surface, implementing a blog is straightforward, once you gain approval. The trick is sustainability and reaching measurable goals. Staying on top of what strategies and tactics are successful blogging also takes time and therefore it’s important what resources marketers depend on. We asked, “How do you stay current with blog SEO best practices?”. The overwhelming most popular answer was Other SEO blogs. The good news about that answer is that we publish a list of over 500 SEO and Internet Marketing related blogs on the TopRank BIGLIST.

Other popular resources for staying current with blogging and SEO include: Social Networks & Groups, Conferences, Observations from Testing, Newsletters, Forums and books. Interestingly, Paid Subscription Communities ranked lowest which is a niche community.

92% of respondents feel blogging will continue to be an important content optimization and marketing tactic for the next 3+ years

Interestingly, 8.3% feel blogging will only be important for the rest of 2010.

What is your opinion on the longevity of blogging as an online communications and marketing tool? Do you think the death of blogs is imminent in 2010?  What blogging benefits have you experienced and how have you overcome objections to implementing a blog in your company?

We hope this survey and results have been helpful to you and plan on conducting many other surveys in 2010 to provide additional insights into digital marketing and PR topics. Clearly, there is interest and a need for companies to better understand the strategic and practical applications of business blogging. Specifically, there is benefit in understanding how search and social channels can be combined with core blog content publishing to reach business goals.  We hope to continue providing such insight here at Online Marketing Blog as well as the conferences and corporate training events we’re engaged to speak at.

PoorSo SoOKGoodAwesome (9 votes, average: 5.00 out of 5)
Loading...

  • SUBSCRIBE TO TOPRANK'S TIPS NEWSLETTER
  • This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.

Related Posts You May Enjoy Reading:

Please read the Online Marketing Blog comment policy

Lee Odden About Lee Odden

@LeeOdden is the CEO of TopRank Marketing and editor of Online Marketing Blog. Cited for his expertise by The Economist, Forbes and the Wall Street Journal, he's the author of the book Optimize and presents internationally on integrated content, search, social media and influencer marketing. When not at conferences, consulting, or working with his talented team, he's likely on a beach somewhere doing absolutely nothing.

Comments

  1. cathydunham says:

    Excellent, valid arguments – which will be useful to convince companies of the multiple values of adding more content to their website on an ongoing basis. I'd like to add one more key benefit: By adding quality content on a regular basis (whether to a blog or website), your readers will discover a strong incentive to return. The more they return, the more loyalty they will develop toward you and your brand. Loyal followers can ultimately become powerful brand advocates, especially when they recommend your brand within social media streams.

  2. jeffbullas says:

    Hi Lee
    Great Post, almost too much information to digest. I blog all the time and I have seen my traffic and SEO increase at levels that have surprised me. I also blog for my company and we are seeing significant increases in traffic and SEO. Cheers and keep blogging

    • Thanks Jeff, I agree it is a lot of info. Debated putting this into a downloadable report and may still do that so we can include more survey respondent comments.

      Great to hear your blogging efforts are successful!

  3. Great stats here Lee, The most compelling ones for the companies should be that blogs act as the bottom of a funnel of all social media channels because the traffic coming from the social media sites is hungry for content and knowledge, The other point is that blogs show that the brands can personify themselves by sharing thoughts on what they do and what they really want to improve.

  4. michelletee says:

    Blogging is the best. My problem is I have too many of them because I love blogging so much it becomes truly hard to keep up.

    Update your blog daily, comment on others blogs, and write some good articles on your niche and you will be well on your way.

    Be patient, because this truly takes a lot of time. It will pay off.. trust me!

  5. I have just started blogging in the last month and have seen great SEO results, even in that short timeline. I have been able to take some of my posts, re-direct them into news releases and a couple of ezinemagazine articles. The first few posts were easy, content wise. I now find myself always looking for a good subject matter. This analysis that you provided is great ammunition to keep it up when I start to wonder whether this effort is worth it. Thanks

  6. I think blogging will be popular/effective as long as there are problems to solve within your community. Plus, there are certain questions you find yourself answering for clients over and over again. Writing a great blog post on a topic is fun way to write it once and let you knowledge scale as your community grows. Plus, while my direct, campaign and referral traffic is growing, most visits are coming from search right now. Go blogs!

    • I suppose one could boil it down to being a tool – it's as effective as the people using it are talented. We could add a lot to that of course, including having something interesting to say, listening and knowing what customers want and the ability to create a feedback loop.

  7. very nice and informative article and I guess it is a great reference source for future blogging. Although the article is self explanatory enough but my concluding thoughts are that, blogging is much more diverse than using it merely for SEO. Also for large companies or ones with diverse products and services, they might require multiple blogs. One such example is google.
    I have found blogging very beneficial for variety of purposes.

    • mohsin:
      How right you are – not just for SEO, but for personal branding and brand building in general, developing a following, pursuing a passion, building a community, expressing an opinion, etc. etc. etc. Isn't social media amazing?

  8. Jim Rudnick says:

    Whew….lots to ponder here, Lee…and thanks on behalf of SEO practitioners everywhere for this study! Will blog about same myownself and after first reading I’d think that some of my clients will get this URL in our monthly SEO Newsletter too!
    😉
    Jim

    • Thanks Jim, I'm glad it's helpful. There's a lot of trepidation by companies about blogging due to resources and know-how, but with the right partner, it's easier and more rewarding by far.

  9. randyduermyer says:

    Interesting, but not especially surprising results considering the bulk of respondents are marketers. However, the results do confirm my own observations and experiences that blogs rule, and as great rankings get harder and harder to accomplish, it's good to see that they are likely to continue as a tried and true solution for a while yet. The results may go a long way toward convincing clients that blogs really are worth the commitment.

    • I have to agree. This was a bit of a test survey and in the future, we'll partner will more of a mass audience opportunity to get a larger sample size that can be associated with the greater business population more accurately.

      You've caught on to the intended application for the survey: data to help new bloggers vs providing new information to experienced marketers/bloggers.

  10. As we have seen data that says search queries are getting longer (users are getting smarter) I think blogs or any type of consistent publishing/fresh content to your site becomes more vital.

    Also interesting that more than half of people said resource issues are a problem with blogging. Those organizations need to realize it's not a “chore” to blog, it's a privilege. I.e., you don't have to, you get to – flip the mindset to that thinking and it becomes less a resource issue and more about tapping passionate team members with contributing.

  11. Lots of good and telling info! Blogs are a great way to increase SEO but once you get started you quickly find out that the SEO benefits are only a by-product of a blog that has been properly thought out and has a clear mission and understands it's audience. Company blogs especially can really benefit from a blog when they realize the potential that blogs give them to join the online conversation and tell their brand/company's story, before someone else does.

    • I forget who said this, but content can only be king if there is a kingdom. Blogs are a great platform for publishing content and engaging an audience (kingdom)

  12. lizstrauss says:

    Thanks for this, Lee. The presentation and information is so absolutely accessible and on target that I just passed it on to a client a minute ago. Outstanding research presented in an outstanding post!

  13. Lee, I enjoyed being part of the survey. I am actually teaching a class on blogging and WordPress this Wednesday. We WILL be mentioning your survey results and sending them to check out the results themselves. Great information!

    • Thanks Melissa, I'm glad they were helpful. There are about 100 question's I'd like to ask others on this topic but we'll have to space them out 🙂

  14. Thanks for that very informative post! There are a lot of tremendous resources for everyone that will help them out a lot..The presentation is excellent…and clear understandable

  15. pollypearson says:

    At the FORTUNE 200 company where I work, there are now a few dozen bloggers (and hundreds of micro-bloggers) – willingly donating time and effort to blog because they're passionate about their subject. The vast majority is not affiliated with the Marketing department, and the Marketing dept did not entice them to begin blogging. However, Marketing is wisely leveraging their voices and now treats “the bloggers” like the media, complete with blogger “pre-briefings” on upcoming important announcements.

    An unexpected benefit of having a team of organically grown bloggers –who now communicate with one another continuously — is the connection these bloggers have built with one another, and the common goals of this large company. They work as a virtual team, yet with no “leader,” or mandate beyond the unsaid common goal of making the company more successful. Many have become well-rounded, unofficial spokespeople – who respect PR/Marketing as the ultimate voice and mediator, when necessary, on what is appropriate or inappropriate to share in the public. Many have become top ranked bloggers in our industry –adding a dimension that, I believe, the PR or Marketing group could never have done purely on its own.

    – Polly Pearson
    EMC Corp

    • Thank you Polly, that's priceless insight.

      The organic growth based on interest and feedback is essential. There appears to be a mutual respect between the bloggers and PR/Marketing and that's the kind of relationship that will pay dividends for everyone, especially consumers of your content.

  16. I agree that blogging is huge! But can be dangerous expecially in corporate settings…

  17. Thanks for this great post.

    We're experimenting using blogs for an addition benefits i.e our hypothesis is that bloggers and influent bloggers in a community ( let's say Mommies, Hard Gamers, Cloud Computing expert) invent/ coined the expressions that become popular, name pratices, single out resources, sites, success stories and that this language become mainstream.

    As an example “dell hell” is a classic now in social media and was invented by J Jarvis and the Social Media Community. “frugalista” is another example in the personal finance community aso.

    So, to make a long story short, there seem to be an SEM benefit in reading or even better mining communities of bloggers for finding long tail expressions with huge advertising and SEO potential.

    This of course on top of all the benefits that you highlighted. That's the cherry on the cake.

    Anyone interested to discuss this ?
    Best

    • That's an interesting perspective dominiq. It's along the lines of doing social media keyword research. With SEO, we have a variety of keyword research tools to do this. For social media, there are ways to mine content and links to identify trending keyword phrases that could be used for social media optimization.

  18. ann | link building services says:

    Company blogs especially can really benefit from a blog when they realize the potential that blogs give them to join the online conversation and tell their brand/company's story, before someone else does.

  19. Wow! Great survey statistic! Yes! I agree that SEO is essential in blogging. I already see the significant result of my SEO effort for my new blog for only 2 months time. Thanks for sharing!

  20. Thanks for a great post.

    Blogs will be important for the next few years because search and conversation will continue to be important for businesses. But we'll continue to see changes in the way businesses use the blog, and I'm sure some New Shiny will emerge to begin replacing the traditional blog.

    Side note: I recently heard that a local organization put on a seminar in which they claimed a blog was simply a place to dump content you didn't want on your website. *sigh*

  21. Great Blog post, insightful analysis and excellent stats. Thanks so much for providing all. We absolutely see tremendous SEO benefits via Blogging for ourselves and clients. One observation, if you map about SEO and Brand Integration on the front end of Blogging (Topics, Keywords, Messaging, etc.) and then develop a topic flow that fits all you will see much more measurable results. Also, the right plug ins makes a tremendous impact on traffic, traction and SEO rankings.

  22. Thanks for this outstanding blog post. The bullet points citing the success measures have open my eyes. I don’t think I’ll be able to blink for the rest of the day.

  23. Thanks for the great informative post. I agree that having a company blog is important for your SEO.

  24. Way to back up the generic “blogging is good fore SEO” argument with some data. Any thoughts on what else those other 94% have in common besides blogging? I'd think those with the ability to keep up are probably a bit better at some other SEO practices as well, so it might no all be the blog.

  25. David Price says:

    Excellent points here. I'm amazed at how many businesses don't utilize the blog or use it properly. The power of blogging is really under appreciated by most businesses, simply because I don't think they fully understand it. Not only does the blog really give out valuable information about the company, product, or service, it can be utilized for linking strategies, but most importantly a long standing blog that is regularly updated with communication to their readers can really be extremely valuable in the long run. Giving their customers the ability to interact and keep up to date with all the latest information regarding the company is and should be a priority.

  26. Great post and very informative I can’t relate to the corporate blogs as I am the owner of a “make money online” blog, but the end result is still the same…SEO. I do however don’t believe that the death of the blog is imminent for 2010 at least for the monetizing bloggers. After reading all that you have mentioned here in your post and some of the comments I don’t believe that companies will stop blogging . Love your post and your list and style of writing. thanks jj

  27. cheekugames says:

    I have been trying to use blogging to promote my puzzles site but with not much effect , is there anything i am missing or i need to be more patient, can anyone please guide me to any link for better SEO practices or some thing similar to that.

  28. Thanks for this survey..

  29. I doubt blogging will die this year. If it does it is another signal that all we can digest is SMS patience. It's like “short attention span theater on reverse steroids.” We have become a sound bite generation, Twitter will need to condense to 70 characters.

  30. davidcarroll says:

    Great content here. Thanks for this really informative post. I tend to think that for the good ones blogging will continue and for a lot of the rest blogging will die out. A lot of people don't take the time or just don't have the ability to continue to develop a blog over the long haul. the folks that do will continue for years and those that don't will die out

  31. articlewriter says:

    This is incredible. I knew blogging was used a lot by big companies, but I did not realize it was to this extent. I guess there are more people than I thought using blogs as marketing and sales generators.

  32. wildnetseo says:

    Great survey, Blogs play a major role to generate more traffic and their back links..

  33. wildnetseo says:

    Great survey, Blogs play a major role to generate more traffic and their back links..