We frequently get the question, “Should I be blogging?”. The general answer is “yes”, but for the purpose of leveraging a blog to help users (primary importance) and then rank in search engines for target keywords (secondary importance), there are some good rules of thumb to follow in setting up a blog and posting (aka, “blogging”).
Following is a mini “case study” featuring an online office chair retail site (http://www.sitbetter.com) that has used blogging effectively to (i) inform and help users and (ii) increase their rankings in search engines.
Note: In this example, the blog is on a subdirectory of the domain (vs. on a subdomain). For clarity, since the domain is Sitbetter.com, having the blog on a subdirectory looks like sitbetter.com/blog; if the blog were on a subdomain, it would look like blog.sitbetter.com (for example).
1) Sitbetter posts ‘product reviews’ using their blog. The blog is setup to post the blog title in the url as well. The blog title and url convention is ‘Office Chair Review: [full product name]‘. ‘Office chair’ is a primary target keyword for Sitbetter.com.
2) The review structure is ‘standardized’ so that they all follow the same format, including a clever rating guide, etc. (Sitbetter uses chair icons – see: http://www.sitbetter.com/blog/2009/05/08/office-chair-review-cherryman-respond-31/)
3) A few weeks ago, the review was for The Ray Leather Office Chair:
Note: The blog title and url includes the target keywords ‘office chair’ and ‘the ray leather office chair’ (product name).
4) The review was posted on a Monday and within a few days the blog post ranked #1 for the search term ‘ray leather office chair”.
5) Today, the (chair review) blog post stills ranks #1, above a competitor site (Sit4less.com) and other high-ranking sites. In addition, there are 11 adwords on the Google search results page indicating the highly competitive nature of this term – in this case, ‘leather office chair’.
Although ‘ray leather office chair” is not a huge traffic term (like ‘office chair’) it does get those people who are looking for that specific chair – and who are most likely to buy that chair. (The ‘longtail’ at work!)
6) What’s more, the review title/url structure (‘Office Chair Review:…”) is boosting the site’s rankings for the term ‘office chair’, a few months ago it wasn’t in the top 10 pages for that term, now it’s middle of page 2 on Google.
7) Since The Ray Leather Office Chair review was technically a “preview” (the chair is not for sale yet), let’s look at a review for a product that is also sold on Sitbetter.com. Following is the product review post for the Inertia High Back Mesh Chair:
Searching for ‘Inertia mesh chair’, the Sitbetter.com product review post is #3 and the product purchase page is #4. This means that Sitbetter.com has two listings in Google for the product search term – one for the review and one for the product purchase page.
What does this mean for other sites, especially online retailers?
Regular posting of product reviews using a similar format and structure as outlined above ([top level term] Review: [full product name]), can help push product review posts and product purchase pages to the top of page 1 Google…plus gradually increasing the site’s ranking for the top level term.
In addition, it’s very important that the blog post url uses the blog title. For example, the Sitbetter blog that ranks for ‘ray leather office chair’ is http://www.sitbetter.com/blog/2009/06/22/office-chair-preview-the-ray-leather-office-chair/. Note: it includes the blog title, thus also including the target keywords.
Lastly, bear in mind that Sitbetter.com sees such immediate results partly because it is a relatively established site (over one year old) that has over 6,000 inbound links, PR 3, alexa rank 470,070 and domain trust ranking (seomoz) of 3.86 (out of 10).
Based on a website’s overall ‘authority’, indexed content, crawlability, internal linking structure, and other factors, effective blogging will have varied results in regard to ranking. However, regardless of the ‘seo strength’ of a website, regular blogging (including product reviews for an online retail site) will have significant impact on how users interact with the site, and how well the site ranks in the search engines.