Blogs are an important part of your long-term marketing plan. They keep customers moving through the funnel. They lend authority to your business. And they drive organic traffic to your site.
But when it comes to business blogging—specifically to a B2B crowd—one of the most common SEO strategies can be one of the most damaging to your readership.
Imagine this all too common scenario:
In order to attract an audience to your blog from search engines, you adjust your content to be more SEO friendly. You do everything you've been taught: you strive for the longest posts possible, you do your keyword research, and then cram as many "it" keywords as you can into the body of your text.
But here's the thing: these practices—the same ones that can take hours to implement—make reading your blog unbearable. As a result, the traffic you fought hard for leaves your site within seconds, and your loyal readers start to notice a dip in quality and unsubscribe.
Old Habits Die Hard
Of course, the practices mentioned above are all outdated by now, but still widely used. These days, Google is looking for context—not keywords. The SEO-or-bust approach to blogging is a habit well-meaning content creators struggle to shake, despite the fact it’s a sure-fire way to frustrate readers and send them packing.
There are a couple reasons this approach will ding you: If you're targeting an audience who is already short on time, a keyword-laden blog longer than Atlas Shrugged will have little appeal to most readers. And if you're targeting an audience that actually DOES want specific, in-depth information, a generic blog that tries to rank for every keyword under the sun won't offer much value.
As Jen put it succinctly in her blog about being succinct: people don’t always have the time or patience to read every piece of content you create. And if they’re looking for specific information, they don’t want to wade through a lengthy, generic blog that only tells them what they already know.
Thankfully, there are easy ways around the problem if you’re willing to rethink your approach.
A Cure for the TL;DR—Get Smart with Format
One reason ultra dense blogs don’t get read is because they look intimidating—a long block of text is friendly to no one, no matter how many buzzwords you stuff into it. The quickest fix is to be more concise, but if you need to parse out a difficult or complicated subject, you can break up larger paragraphs into shorter sections or use bullet points to get your point across.
Imagery, infographics and video can also help make your blog more readable. ("Show, don't tell.") Plus, graphics give you a chance to add alt tags—back-end descriptions that help search engines determine what kind of content can be found on your page; let them do the SEO work for you, and let your blogs flow naturally.
A few smart subheads can also work wonders. They give the reader a preview of what that section covers and allow them to quickly skim your article to find what they’re looking for. If you find the sections of your blog are starting to get long—stop writing. Couch the in-depth description for a new blog, and once that’s ready, link back to it.
A Cure for the Overly Generic Blog—Topic Clusters to the Rescue
The other reason your B2B readers click away from your blog is slightly more complicated. Sometimes your readers actually want more information—not less. But in this scenario, a blog that only skims the surface won't cut it. They don't want to learn a little about a variety of topics—they want to know a lot about just one.
A good way to deliver high quality, super-specific content to your audience is to embrace what Hubspot calls "topic clusters." In a nutshell, a topic cluster is like a super-blog composed of all the content you've created on a single topic, housed on a single page of your website called a "pillar page."
Your pillar page should offer a brief explanation of the topic, broken up into clearly divisible sections that link to in-depth blogs, white papers, e-books, etc. It should offer a wealth of valuable knowledge presented in a skimmable way so your reader can stop and come back to your blog without losing their place.
The beauty of topic clusters is that they let your audience absorb information at their own pace. Unlike other blogs where you want your audience to read it once then immediately perform a certain action, you want your pillar page to act as a resource that your readers can keep in their back pocket. The end goal of a normal blog might be getting the reader to click your CTA, but here, the goal is to have them bookmark your page.
Until next time, friends.
We'll talk about topic clusters more in depth next time, but for now take a minute to take stock of your blogging practices: What's going well? What isn't? Shoot us an email if you think it's time to re-strategize. Otherwise, keep your reading streak going with these other blogs about blogging. (Meta, I know.)