In 2023, Chat AI, TikTok, and reels are grabbing all the headlines. The term blog, or even the concept of a blog, can seem dated. But blogs are still very much alive, widely read, and hugely relevant for consumers of all ages.
Adding a blog, or engaging content to your existing blog, is an effective way to boost traffic, visibility, and revenue for your business.
In this article, we’ll explain why blogging for SEO is so effective and how you can use it to improve your search engine rankings.
What is a blog?
A blog is the personal or professional communications of a business or individual that are published in text-entry format online. They are commonly 500 to 2,500 words in length, but you can find blog articles that are 5,000 – 20,000 words long.
A blog can exist on a brand or business website as part of its subdirectory or as a separate subdomain.
In the early years of internet adoption, blogs were seen as diary-style posts by individual writers. Most people contend the first blog, Links.net, was introduced in 1994. With no existing word for a blog, creator Justin Hall just referred to it as his homepage. The term weblog was coined a few years later and in 1999, the term blog was introduced.
Blogs enabled individuals to contribute and self-publish their own content online. While many early blogs had a personal diary quality, professional blogs have been around for decades. Notable professional blogs include:
- Thrillist – founded in 2004
- TechCrunch – founded in 2005
- Huffington Post – founded in 2005
- Refinery29 – founded in 2005
- Mashable – founded in 2005
- Twitter – founded in 2006 (this micro-blog site is arguably a major news publisher)
- The Verge – founded in 2011
- Vox – founded in 2014
Generally, people think of personal stories as blogs (i.e., mommy confessional) and think of stories on TechCrunch or Vox being more newsworthy and creditable. And this may be true, but it’s not because they are or aren’t blogs. It’s because TechCrunch and Vox are professionally run media sites with nearly 1,000 combined employees. It’s not just a mom, cranked up on coffee pounding out a one-author post at 3 o’clock in the morning (which I may have done once or twice before).
Virtually every large global, national, or regional business has a blog. And many smaller businesses do too. It’s an easy way to increase your footprint on the web. You can add more pages about your business and services, increasing your opportunity for exposure in Google.
Creating helpful and informative blog content — relevant to your brand and useful to the searcher’s query — delivers major search engine optimization (SEO) benefits. For many companies, covering a variety of related topics in blog articles and continually updating them (so they do not become outdated and irrelevant) is a core component of their digital marketing and SEO strategy.
Do people still read blogs?
Yes! According to research in HubSpot and SERPwatch, 77% of people in the U.S. read blogs. And while Zoomers (Generation Z) are known for their love of videos and reels, nearly 70% of this cohort reads blogs too. As Gen Z ages, that figure will likely increase. Because at its core, a blog is just reading text information put online. Even a tweet is a micro-blog.
While for a brief period of time (a few years back) blogs declined in popularity, blogs have always been prevalent. And in recent years, bloggers have benefited from newer technologies, with more ways to create and push out their content — and to monetize it.
And right now, with everyone hyped up for Chat AI technology, blogs are at the center of it. There’s an increased interest in pushing the limits of automation and blog and content creation.
Reasons why people still read blogs in 2023
People read blogs for the same reason they use Bing or Google Search: to find answers to their questions. In fact, many (often most) queries will lead you to a blog article from the search results page, whether the blog is on the FinanceBuzz, Harvard Business Review, or the Mayo Clinic website.
People search primarily for information, not for blogs.
- To obtain breaking news — about current events or any other number of topics.
- To get advice — from other bloggers or from experts. Liked reading a blog article about tax deductions from a CPA on TurboTax.
- To acquire a new skill by reading a comprehensive guide.
- To stay current or up-to-date in your current industry or field.
- To view a tutorial that guides you step-by-step through the process of accomplishing a specific task.
- To look up a quick fact (i.e., “What is the population of Minneapolis?”)
- To read a review of a business, product, or service.
- To help them make up their minds on whether or not to purchase something.
- To be entertained. Many people turn to blog posts — highlighting funny memes, reels, and inspirational quotes — when they need a break.
- To get medical information (i.e., Find out what that rash is on your child’s shoulder).
Blog articles on high-domain authority sites, like the Mayo Clinic, may be more useful and more accurate than a private individual’s blog about their homemade rash cream. That’s where human judgment and search engine algorithms (and common sense) come into play.
2023 blogs meet the needs and habits of 2023 readers
The majority of web readers don’t read an article in full from start to finish. They skim through the page, looking for content that answers their question.
That’s why an SEO blog aims to present content in the easiest, most accessible way possible. The headers, subheaders, bullets, and visual layout of text can make the information quickly digestible.
High-earning, high-performing blogs are the easiest to read. And often the quickest. In fact, search engines will often spit out the reader in the middle of your article in the exact section that answers their question.
This makes solid SEO structuring all the more important for your blog, using headers and subheaders so that Google understands how your article is laid out.
Are blogs good for SEO?
Yes! Blogs are a great way to improve your SEO. Here are some ways a blog can enhance your SEO:
- Establish and demonstrate your expertise in any given field (i.e. medical care, fishing gear, strollers, or enterprise software).
- Improve the overall quality of your website. Having ample, well-structured content on your website can improve its overall quality score in the eyes of search algorithms and site visitors. If you’re searching for information about a stroller, would you buy from a website that shows you 15 different products and has links to buy, and a single paragraph of information on the homepage? Or would you buy from a website that has 15 products and links to buy, detailed information about the company on the homepage, and dozens of in-depth articles or pages about different stroller brands, different styles of strollers, accessories, parts, and tips for how to pick out the best stroller or stroller system?
- Rank higher in Google search results.
- Appear more frequently in Google search results. Using a blog for SEO, you can expand your keyword coverage on many more relevant terms. Instead of ranking in Google search for just 20-30 terms, you. could rank in Google Search for hundreds or thousands of terms.
- Solve the problems of your readers and customers. The more useful and helpful your site, the more appealing you are — to searchers and to search engine algorithms.
B2B blogs for SEO
A B2B blog can help a business — that sells goods and services to other businesses — reach the right influencers and decision-makers.
- Improve your overall domain authority.
- Acquire more backlinks.
- Generate leads and sales calls.
- Gather lists of newsletter subscribers for email marketing lists.
- Nurture existing leads.
- Build brand awareness.
- Build solution awareness.
- Get your company and its solutions in front of the right people.
- Drive sales and revenue.
B2B blog article content can commonly take the form of thought leadership posts, guides, glossaries, case studies, white papers, industry news stories, listicles, and other articles.
Especially helpful resources may be content locked, available only if the reader subscribes to your email newsletter or your business services.
B2C blogs for SEO
A B2C blog can help your brand or business directly reach consumers, and educate them about your products and services.
- Improve your overall domain authority.
- Acquire more backlinks.
- Generate leads (email subscribers and text SMS subscribers).
- Nurture existing leads.
- Build brand awareness.
- Build solution awareness.
- Get your company and its solutions in front of the right people.
- Drive sales and revenue.
B2C blog article content can commonly take the form of product guides, reviews, brand or product information, DIYs, style tips, seasonal trend news, infographics, listicles, and other articles. Generally, the content is not locked (the reader does not have to provide their email or pay to see the content).
What is blogging vs content marketing?
Blogging and content marketing are not entirely the same thing.
Blogging is the act of writing and publishing articles at a regular cadence, whereas content marketing is the creation and distribution of different forms of informational content to reach your audience (potential customers) and convert them into sales prospects and then sales and revenue.
Blogging is one form of content marketing, and it lives on a blog. Other forms of content marketing include:
- White papers (also called whitepapers)
- One-sheeters (also called one-papers)
- Case studies
- Online courses (some forms)
- Social media posts
All blogs are content marketing, but not all content marketing is blogging.
Another key difference is blogging tends to be focused on sharing thought leadership and ideas, while content marketing is more focused on driving a specific, profitable action. Many blog posts, however, do have strong calls to action to complete a revenue-generating action. There are different goals for different forms of blog posts.
What results can a blog deliver for a business?
A well-orchestrated blog can drive numerous, measurable results for your business.
- Increased web traffic. Every time you write an additional blog post, you are adding an additional indexed page (that the search engines crawl) to your website. This gives your business website a greater chance to show up in organic search results.
- Increase your social media presence. With each new blog article you publish, you can share it across various social media channels and add appropriate trending hashtags. You’re increasing your digital footprint, driving brand exposure, social media engagements, and website traffic.
- Increase leads. Through Google Analytics, you can track what your blog traffic does — how they scroll through your blog and interact with your overall website. You can see what other pages they visit, how long they spend there, what pages drive them closer to filling out a sales form, and what pages lead to them immediately exiting your website. You can also gather email addresses for new blog updates.
- Increase and enhance your link-building efforts. Creating high-value blog articles increases the number of sites that will link to your website — because with each additional blog article published, you’re upping the odds you’ve published content that other websites will want to link to as a resource. Getting these inbound links, or backlinks, are a factor that the Google algorithm considers when ranking sites in its search engine results. Generally, the more backlinks the better. (Google looks for high-quality, non-spam backlinks from legitimate sites.)
- Provides a natural platform to share your business’ updates and stories. This is a way to brag up your business, introduce new hires, spotlight stand-out employees, share product updates, and other content that can showcase your company in a positive light. It could be a powerful relationship-driving tool, as you could use it to highlight the stories of featured vendors and customers.
Which blog platform is best for SEO?
This is a great source of debate, but WordPress is a popular platform for businesses, web developers, and bloggers. WordPress makes it extremely simple to create and publish blog posts with images, videos, and other media. WordPress offers advanced features – including SEO plugins like Yoast – to optimize your SEO with no coding or similar technical ability required.
How many blog posts do I need for SEO?
In the past, blog posts could show up on search engine results pages for search queries or keywords within days. But Google’s algorithm has since evolved. To successfully create a blog that attracts significant traffic, you should get off to a good start by publishing at least 10 to 15 posts.
Regular posting cadence is important so that your readers and search algorithms know what to expect. Publishing solid content 2-3 times a month every single month is much better than publishing 10 posts the next month and then not editing them or publishing any additional content for the next several months or years.
How long should an average blog be for SEO?
The length of an average blog post for SEO depends on the topic you’re writing about. Generally, it should be at least 1,000 words in length, contain relevant keywords, have good structure (with defined sections and subsections), use images and videos, contain relative links (to external sources and other website pages), and be well-formatted for scannability.
For pillar posts — authoritative, comprehensive posts about a lengthy subject (i.e., “how to make money online”) — the blog article can be several thousand words long.
At Henmar Creative, I use tools like Clearscope or Surfer SEO to determine the optimal length. These tools analyze the top search results (Google and Bing) to see what the top-ranking content is for a given topic. Based on other high-performing content, recommendations will be made on the word length needed to be competitive and break into the first page of search results.
So if you were to write a blog post about how to make money online, you would need an article roughly 5,000 to 6,500 words in length in order to be competitive with other top-ranking blog articles. The top-ranking article on Google, from Shopify, is over 6,000 words in length. All of the top 10 results are over 2,500 words in length, with most ranging from 4,000 to 9,000 words.
In addition to a suggested word length, these SEO tools will recommend how many headings, images, and keywords you should use.
Generally, I stay close to Clearscope or Surfer’s recommendations for word length, but if it feels like I’m stuffing keywords unnaturally, then I will increase the post’s length so I can more naturally work in all of the related terms.
How do I get my blog to show up on Google?
There are a number of things you can do to get your blog post to show up on Google.
- Create valuable, original content based on keyword research (of terms that people are searching).
- Make sure your article is structured in a way that is easy for Google to crawl and understand: blog post title, headings, subheadings, internal links, and clean URL structure.
- Intersite links and backlinks. Link to your article from other content that is ranking and showing up on Google. (Do so in a natural way. If you have an article about home repair that ranks and there is a section about roofing, then it would make sense to link to a new article about different kinds of roof shingles within that section.)
- Share blog posts on social media.
- Share blog posts with customers and subscribers via email.
- Make sure the blog settings are optimized for discoverability: keyword tags, categories, meta descriptions, title tags, article index, and correct (public) visibility settings.
- Optimize your image file names and image description. (An image file named “Src–001.jpg” will not help your blog or blog image show up in search results. Something specific and relevant to the blog article, “i.e. Take surveys to make money online with Kashkick” supports the topic and is a helpful descriptor for the reader and the search engine.)
- Submit your sitemap to Google when you make significant changes to your website.
- Set up your blog as part of your website’s subdirectory (instead of its subdomain) to help your articles to show up more in search results. This means setting up the structure like http://www.website.com/blog (subdirectory) and not like blog.website.com (subdomain).
- Submit a new blog post URL to the Google Search Console. (Log in to your Google Search Console and then select “URL Inspection” in the navigation panel. You can then submit your newly published blog URL.)
How do I know if my blog post is SEO-friendly?
Here’s a checklist of questions you can go through to determine if your blog post is SEO-friendly.
- Freelance gig sites like Fiverr and Upwork will be the cheapest, but give you inconsistent results in terms of quality. It takes some trial and error. It may be a slow process in the beginning as you build up your roster of professional freelance writers. Once you have the right team of freelance writers assembled, then you can consistently release relevant blog content. A blog article can cost $5 to $500 depending on the needed length.
- Freelance-writing-specific sites like Clearscope, Compose.ly, or Dashly. Typically the writing quality itself is very good, but not optimized to your brand and style guidelines and less well optimized for SEO in terms of headings and schema markup. A blog article can cost $100 to $500 or more depending on the length and type of contract you have.
- Content writing agencies like Henmar Creative or Rribitz. You get content specifically written to meet your SEO and conversion needs, aligned with your brand’s voice and style, optimized for conversions (lead gen, sales, newsletter signups, or other goals), and expertly crafted for SEO — including internal links, image optimization, schema markups, meta description, and title tag, and search engine and competitor research. Pricing options can vary; you can pay by the project (i.e., 10 articles total and 3 white papers) or per article with rates set by the hour or by word. Costs can range from $200 to thousands of dollars depending on your needs.
- Freelance writers. When you identify blog posts and news stories you like, look for the author’s contact information. For more premium or top-shelf sites — i.e., The Cut, Wall Street Journal, FinanceBuzz — writers may charge up to $3,000 for an article. Typically, these writers don’t have SEO or conversion-writing expertise. These SEO flourishes — structured data, calls-to-action, site links, and sign-up boxes — are added by a web page editor.
- Marketing agencies. This can be a very expensive route to go, but it may make sense if you have a substantial budget and want a broader, more cohesive marketing strategy — like a full-scale marketing campaign for print ads, TV spots, social reels, and blog articles that match. For SEO blog content writing, however, agencies may charge $300 an hour or more. They may use service arbitrage, buying their SEO writing services from a content writing agency and then selling them to clients at a markup.
- Is it focused on keywords that users are actively searching? If your blog post is focused on a term that has nil to very few monthly searches, it will not show up in search results. Tools like Google Keyword Planner, WordStream, or Ahrefs can help you find terms to try and rank for, ideally, balancing search volume against the competition. Higher volume terms are usually the hardest to rank on. Long tail keywords (a string of several words) often are lower volume and easier to rank on.
- Does your primary keyword appear at the beginning and end of the article, as well as in the title, URL, meta description, and image ALT tags?
- Do you have a title tag (that shows up in search results) and meta description (short description of the blog article)? The title tag should be different from the blog article title.
- Do you have headers and subheaders and accurate heading tags (H1, H2, H3, etc.)? Headings help divide a long article into more readable sections. Headings allow readers to skim through your entire blog content and quickly find what they need. This is like when you’re grocery shopping and see each aisle labeled so that you can find your items right away instead of going down every lane. Make sure your article is SEO-friendly by including the correct heading tags and hierarchical structure. Hierarchical structure means the Heading 1 (H1) tag goes to your main title, Heading 2 (H2) for the main article sections, and Heading 3 (H3) to the subsections.
- Are your headings and subheadings related to the blog article and primary keyword? Are they related to the searcher’s intent? (i.e., If the user is searching, “What’s the best dog for my family?” then a section in the blog about “Grain-free dog foods” would probably be irrelevant.)
- Is your blog article content unique, or does it closely mirror or duplicate other similar content on your website? In the case of duplicate content, the search engines will be confused and may not show either page. There may be some overlap in content (i.e., you’re writing several articles about different kinds of marketing) but the general thrust of each blog article should be unique. If you do need to have similar content, then you can use a canonical tag to designate to search engines which of the two similar pages should be displayed in search results.
- Do all the internal and external links work? Click on the outbound links (URLs you are linking to) in your article. Are any of these links broken? Are you linking to competing sites, helping their SEO efforts? Try to not link to competitors, or if you must, you can mark the links as “nofollow” so that it does not help their SEO.
- Is your blog the appropriate length? Ideally, an SEO blog article should be at least 1,000 words but most will be much longer depending on the topic. Is it similar in length to other blog articles ranking on Page 1 for similar content? You can use wordcounter.net for a quick word count.
- Is your article at a readable grade level? You can use tools like wordcalc.com, readable.com, or Clearscope to see what grade reading level your blog post is written at. While the grade level you target will depend on the topic and audience, ideally you want to aim for the sixth to eighth-grade reading level.
- Does your text have visual interest? This will make it more skimmable. This includes bulleted lists, structured data, and a variety of sentence and paragraph lengths to create more visual variation to your post instead of one, huge rectangular block of text.
- How are the blog post’s overall writing quality and grammar? Check for spelling and grammar errors. Keep sentences and paragraphs short. You can also check Google Analytics Data to see how users are reacting to your blog post. (Are they hitting the back button within half a second of reaching your article? Or are they reading it top to bottom and then clicking on additional content?)
- Is your blog article outdated? If the title is “Top Baby Girls’ Names” but the article was published 11 years ago and hasn’t been updated, then the post is in need of a refresh. You can continually optimize blog content to keep it relevant and bring in current search engine traffic.
- Are your images optimized? Blog images improve your text content. They help to make articles, especially those of a longer form, more engaging, and easier to read. Ensure that your SEO-friendly blog post contains ALT text or captions for all images. Include your primary keyword and make the ALT description informative. The reason for a keyword in the description is that search engine crawlers and bots cannot see the image. Also, be sure to optimize the size of your selected images. Photos that are too large can slow down your page load time.
- Does your blog post load quickly, or is the page load speed very slow? Page load speed is the time it takes for your text and images to appear on the page after a user clicks it. The majority of users cannot wait more than a couple of seconds for a web page to load. Some solutions include compressing image files and removing plugins that aren’t crucial. You can use Google PageSpeed Insights to check any URL’s load time — and see recommendations for how to make pages load more quickly.
- Have you correctly added any appropriate schema markup? Schema markup, which is available at Schema.org, is a type of microdata. Schema markup helps search engines precisely what your website’s content intends to convey, like recipes, review scores, or the author’s name. It transforms unstructured data into structured data. Adding schema improves the search engine crawl, thereby increasing your website’s ranking. The crawler explores individual web pages, extracts keywords, and then adds the pages to the database of the search engine.
Beyond this checklist, I also use the SEO audit feature in SurferSEO. I can provide the URL for an article I’ve written and the keywords I want it to rank for. SurferSEO will then give me a quick rundown of how my article compares against other top-ranking articles for “content writing” and let me know about any missed opportunities.
Based on the SEO audit, there are several actions I may take to make the article more SEO-friendly. While not all of the recommendations will make sense, for this particular article there are a handful of changes I can implement.
At Henmar Creative, I leverage this same audit feature when providing blog SEO recommendations for clients and when authoring content for them.
Can I do blog SEO on my own?
Yes, you can most definitely do blog SEO on your own if you’ve got decent writing skills and are willing to spend some time learning about different SEO writing tools. Just exploring Google’s search results for any given keyword is a good place to start.
Learning about search engine optimization and leveraging SEO writing tools can help structure your posts in the most optimized way possible. HubSpot, Google Search Central, and Moz blogs all have excellent blog SEO tips. These tools can help you figure out which related keywords to use, which top sites to emulate (for style), and which related subtopics to cover.
If you’re just getting started, the SEO writing style for a blog post can take time to grasp. Initially, it can take several hours (10 or more) to write a particular blog post structured specifically for SEO. But as you become more practiced, it may only take you 2-3 hours.
Best blog SEO content writing tools
- Jasper AI
- Semrush Writing Assistant
Where can I hire freelance writers for blog SEO?
Assuming you have a budget since you’re looking to hire, you have several options available to you.
How much should blog SEO cost me?
There are free SEO tools available but to use premium plug-ins and SEO tools, you may need to pay a few hundred dollars or more each month.
At Henmar Creative, we utilize these paid tools (monthly subscription) to create SEO blog content:
- WordPress plug-ins
We also leverage many free tools:
- Grammarly (freemium version)
- Google Search Console
- Google Keyword Planner
- Google Doc
Our investment is several hundred dollars a month. If you are a large business, your costs could range from $500 to $2,000+ a month – spending on how many licenses (users) you need and how much data you want to track.
Blog writing costs, on top of these tools, could range from $500 to $20,000 a month depending on how much content you need and how much research and expertise are required. With writing services like Fiverr, you typically will need to pay an additional fee for keyword research, SEO optimization, or topic research. For content writing agencies or marketing agencies, those costs should already be built into the pricing.
Blogging and blog articles are still incredibly relevant and powerful tools to reach your audience, driving awareness, leads, and sales. From small B2C companies to large B2B brands, a blog can help you establish expertise in your industry, improve your SEO performance (so you show up more in search results), and win over new potential customers.
While the modern blog reader has different expectations than the 20th-century blog reader — they want easy-to-skim articles so they can quickly answer their question — the modern blog reader still has just as many problems and your company blog can position itself to swiftly solve them and win their trust.