One of the questions we’re frequently asked is “If I rule out blogging, what’s the best thing I can do for my web site’s organic search results, after the basic optimization has already been done?” There’s an excellent reason for this question: it underscores how important blogging really is. It has to be rejected out of hand before it makes any sense to move on to other methods. Done properly, in other words, the single most important thing you can do for your web site, after a proper design overhaul and search optimization, is blogging. But let’s reject that, rule it out, for reasons that range from not wanting to do it to just not believing in it. In that case, what’s second best? Well normally, we’ll say that anything second best isn’t even a close second. Once you reject social media (blogging is the core form of social media), everything else is sort of piddling. There’s plenty of good marketing still (e-mail marketing, paid advertising), but social marketing is miles ahead. Still, we have come up with an alternate answer that may work, for many people, just as well as “blogging”. It’s a multi-step process, and each piece depends on each other piece. So keep in mind, that doing one or two of these things, without the others, may have insignificant or even negative results. Here goes:
- Generate lots of content: Add lots and lots of written content on your site. Search engines, on the whole, tend to favor sites with more written content over sites with less. Where do you get all this content? Well, if there’s a topic in your field of industry and related to your locality and you’re NOT talking about it, what does that say about how relevant you are to either one? If it’s relevant, write something about it. Just make sure it’s 100% original. Search engines like Google punish harshly for plagiarized content and will bury your site, not reward it, if you copy and paste much.
- Make it consistent: Spread that content over time through numerous updates. From a search engine perspective, adding 30 pieces of content in a day is far less significant (very far) than adding one piece a day for 30 days. Don’t make the mistake of piling on all the content at once. People often ask “how much do I need to do?” If you’re looking for a minimum, give up – people who do the minimum in any aspect of their business – customer service, accounting, marketing, are beyond hope. But if you want to excel, because you respect your business, then do whatever you can do consistently. There’s no limit. The returns will be based, as with every other aspect of our work, on what we put in. The more frequent, if it’s consistent, the better. Start with once a week as a base line.
- Make it sustained: Avoid meaningless spikes. Search engines typically aren’t impressed by 30 days of intensive additions, even if you’re consistent about it, and then silence with bees humming in the background after that. If you’re going to do it, be in for the long haul. Create content at a steady, consistent pace that you can sustain over the *entire* life of your web site, so that it grows continually – so that it never stops growing.
- Link it together: Tie each piece of added content together somehow. One simple search engine optimization tip is to make a link out of whatever the title of each piece is, then put all those links on a page. Think of it like a linked index. If you’re doing items 1-3 above, that page is going to start getting pretty full, so it’s often good to sort those linked titles by date and put them on separate “archives” pages – maybe each page could be named for a month and year (e.g. January 2012, February 2012, etc).
- Borrow wisdom: Steal some of the basic, industry standard tips that bloggers use. Not magic voodoo advice – if it’s just one guru’s special sauce, it’s unlikely to work for you. But take a few of the things that all of them know to do reflexively, and add those to your repertoire. For example: localize every addition to your content (tie it somehow to local places that you service), use a photo or illustration on every content addition, and share the link to each new piece (e.g. the link you made in item 4 above) on any social media sites that you do happen to use (e.g. twitter), because those are also search engines, and meta-search engines like Google will index those too – adding to your overall search benefit, which is what you’re after.
- Stay in the race: Lastly, don’t expect instant results. Expect to build results over time. Everyone who wants something fast, effective, and affordable is a quitter in the making. In reality, you only get 2 of those, never all of them. Your competition may currently be doing better in searches. You won’t fix that with instant solutions, snake oil, special sauce, guru vudu, or magic beans. There’s a reason they’re there and you’re not (even if they’re web sites suck worse than yours). It’s actually quite simple. Sites with existing high search traffic get rewarded by more search traffic (why do you think blogging, or the strategy we’re describing, works? It’s a means of generating lots of traffic over time without useless spikes or irrelevant results). They got there first, and they’ve been there longer, and so they’re going to stay ahead as long as everyone keeps doing the same thing. That means that even if you copied every single trick they’ve pulled, you will never, ever, ever, ever catch up. Not ever. Not even if you wish real hard. No matter who you hire. No matter what they tell you as they run your Visa. You never, ever will. Not unless… you don’t just match what your competition are doing, you *exceed* it. You have to do better. If you merely copy them, you’ll never catch up, because they’ve already built the search engine groundswell. You have to outdo them on the only thing that search engines really care about. Content. So you either blog, or you use this method of content generation. It’s just like the other aspects of competing with other companies – you need to be better (not merely the same) in customer service, in financial wisdom, and certainly in your marketing.
Follow the above strategy, as an alternative to blogging, and you’ll likely kick the snot out of your competition over time, inching forward in a way that is hard to reverse or overcome, by the time they figure out what you’re doing. Then you’ll have set the new bar, the new standard, and be hard to unseat just like they were.
There’s just one more thing that should be added, for the sake of full disclosure (if you haven’t already figured it out). The steps above describe a process that most of us in the industry refer to as “blogging”. We can call it “steps to positive content generation”, or “modern SEO”, or “content-based marketing” – what it’s called doesn’t matter much. A rose by any other name is still the same. The important thing is that search engines want your content, they want it original and local, they want it spread over time not piled on all at once (liked old fashioned web sites), they don’t care about meaningless spikes – they reward consistency, they like the content to be in a linked environment where the titles are important – much better than they do separate pages you get to from some menu, and they respect a lot of the collective wisdom that bloggers have arrived at through experience and information exchange.
When search engines get what they want from your web site, and from you, over time, search engines tend to reward you, over time. That gives *you* the opportunity to become the guy with the groundswell of traffic that’s hard to catch up to, and the well developed marketing approach that’s hard to unseat. Your competition is not currently doing it? Great – that’s exactly why you should. That’s their blind spot. Want to just do what they’re doing? Great. You won’t ever catch up to them. Not ever. But you’ll fit in really well when they get together and talk about marketing, if that turns you on. If you want to treat your marketing the way one hopes we all treat the rest of our business, however, like a priority that involves learning new things, constantly adapting to a changing environment, and exceeding the minimums expected of us an our competition, then these steps should generate what you’re looking for.
Whether you do all of this manually creating page after page, or whether you let a blog engine handle automatic generation of pages (called posts) and the links while you just write the content, shouldn’t make much difference. Bloggers tend to prefer the easy, somewhat automated method. People that hate blogging but want the same results, might wish to simulate the same thing by hand. Both groups of people benefit from a content generation strategy like the one above. Content generation is *the heart* of internet marketing. E-mail marketing is content generation. Social media is content generation. Most people will want to start with a web site that’s presentable, efficiently laid out, and has an underlying base of search engine optimization (which makes it index-able). But there’s only so much that can do, because without a content generation strategy, it’s just sitting there, like a race car that someone built and then leaves in the garage, and it will sink into oblivion like the sands of time in search engines. The question isn’t really whether you want to do content generation or some *other* kind of internet marketing, it’s whether you want to do internet marketing at all – because content generation is what’s involved.
This has been more blunt talk from the Market Moose. And a good time to remember the immortal words of Teddy Roosevelt: “I never gave anybody Hell. I just told the truth and they thought it was Hell.” If you want dreamy unicorn-like advice that make you feel like the world has fallen away and everything is easy, please return to Google and try again. 🙂 If you’re willing to pay a premium for reality, even when it hurts, you’re in the right place. And yeah, this is how we really talk.