Recently I was speaking to a good friend of mine, Joe Putnam, who does blogging for major online brands in the online marketing world, and I got to learn a lot about why people pay him so much to write articles for them.
I knew about this before, but blogging can be a great way to generate traffic to your site. Not only do Search Engines pick up on, but also it creates “sharing value” on your site. The things that people will share with their friends on Facebook, Twitter, and other social networks are the articles they find with useful content to them. They are not as likely to share about your company’s services or pages that sell to their friends, but if they read something useful, or interesting, or even funny, they are very likely to share that on their social networks, especially if a sharing button is right in front of them to make it easy to do so.
The ROI was calculated when my friend figured out what people could be paying for 1 click on Google Adwords, and then we discovered the reasoning behind the ROI in investing in a blog article instead. He explained it like this:
“The basic idea is that the ROI on blog posts gets higher over time compared to AdWords ads that are a one-time cost. For example, if an AdWord ad costs $0.50 per click, which is quite low and varies by niche, then 1,000 visitors costs $500, 2,000 costs $1000, etc. Companies end up paying for every visitor that comes to the site. But when it comes to content, websites only pay $X per post, and then don’t pay for additional traffic. In this scenario, if a company pays $150 for a post and 1,000 people read it in the first week based on e-mail distribution and social sharing, then the “cost-per-click” is $0.15 for that first week. However, as the post gets picked up by search engines and continues to get shared, then the “cost-per-click” goes down. So if two years later that post gets viewed a total 2,500 times (or possibly more), then the “cpc” goes down to $0.06.
The numbers will obviously vary from company to company, but this is basically what people like Neil Patel are doing with companies like Crazy Egg and KISSmetrics. They pay content creators to write posts that get shared and picked up by search engines. Over time, the total traffic from social sharing, e-mail distribution, and search engines greatly exceeds what they would have received from paying for every single click. It becomes a cost efficient way to generate traffic, if the company is able to do the work it takes to write and publish posts, and that work goes down significantly by investing in outside writers who can produce the content (so long as they are qualified writers who create awesome stuff). So it’s an investment and a commitment, but it ends up being cheaper than AdWords with the right amount of time and energy. With that said, some people are better off paying for clicks because they won’t have the time to manage a blog.”
That was a very convincing calculation to me. As a smaller, localized company with less traffic, you may not get 500 visitors to one blog post, but the lifetime value of one post is worth a lot. Also, it doesn’t have to cost you $150 for one blog post. If you do it yourself, as the expert in your own industry, it’s simply an hour or two of your time. BUT – you’ve got to keep up with it, and most people find blogs a hard thing to manage. If realistically you don’t think you can keep up with regular blogging, it is much better to pay someone to do it, or nothing will get off the ground.
People land on PAGES not Web sites – blog posts help reach target niches
The way to look at the ROI in blogging is in the customers it can generate for you, after you factor in the amount of traffic you get. I learned from the Blogging for Startups video on Appsumo that Hiten Shaw of Kiss Metrics converts 1% of visitors to his blog into actual customers. So the premise goes that if they land on a useful blog post, they may click around your web site and if you market your product well enough on your blog, people will see you have something to sell, and may be interested in buying.
However, in my own experience, I get business from particular blog posts that I write, not from my site overall. It’s because of their ranking on Google for long tail, or very specific keywords. So for example, my home page talks about how I am an SEO and web developer in Vancouver. But I have, more than once, generated business from portfolio-type posts where I talk about a specific writing skill, such as press release writing, or technology writing. People don’t find me for these jobs from my home page, but from specific content I write to a niche audience, that is even more targeted than my home page. So the point here is that blog posts specificity work well in generating traffic from search engines, and results in a higher conversion rate from that post itself, because the people who land on the very specific content in a post are likely going to be more interested in what you have to say (especially if there is not a lot out there already for that search term).
The thing to know is that with SEO, it is pages that rank, not sites.
So for example, in the past I had two serious leads because they typed in something related to “WordPress e-commerce” and “big commerce” together in the same search term. They landed on this blog post: https://www.joycegrace.ca/2011/08/joyce%e2%80%99s-e-commerce-throw-down-bigcommerce-zencart-wp-e-commerce-shopp-for-wordpress/
One lead was ready to buy right away. Blogging accomplished two things:
1) It got me ranking for those keywords.
2) It showed credibility and expertise so that by the time I got the sales call I didn’t have to do any convincing – they said outright to me that they thought I knew what I was doing and they wanted a quote.
A blogging idea: turning your portfolio into blog posts for more sales mileage online
One of the hardest things about keeping up to date with a blog is finding things to write about. I have found that by virtue of my writing extensively about my own portfolio, I was able to generate traffic, and specifically customers, from the portfolio items that I turned into blog posts.
For example, this is a case study I did of one of the web sites I made, and it is full of paragraphs not just bullet points or short sentences: https://www.joycegrace.ca/2012/01/seo-and-web-development-for-tutoring-company/#axzz24ncWbgg7
Another one is https://www.joycegrace.ca/2011/12/psychologist-web-site-in-vancouver/#axzz24ncWbgg7
If you read these carefully, keywords are woven into that content, such as “Web site customization” or “WordPress widget” (those would be theme-related keywords, so even if they’re not core keywords I want to rank for, they can help SEO).
Then the titles of each of these used a keyword as well. So instead of me talking about the “Dr. Jennifer Newman site”, the title was “Psychologist’s web site development in Vancouver.” Notice the keyword “web site development” is in the title, but is still topical to the post itself?
I once got a client who typed in “press kits vancouver” or something similar and landed on this page: https://www.joycegrace.ca/2011/03/press-kit-writing-and-production-for-shoo-foo-eco-linens/
A large company hired me for a few projects because they typed in “technology writer vancouver” and came across this post: https://www.joycegrace.ca/2011/03/technology–writing/
What I’m trying to demonstrate is that for every service you offer, if you want it to give you more mileage in terms of selling your services to qualified leads online, there needs to be A LOT of writing about it in order for it to rank well on search engines. Your site can be large, having a lot of pages or posts, but if at the heart of it, it is mostly short sentences and a lot of photos, then you probably won’t see the benefit of the SEO or ROI on blogging. Try to aim to make your portfolio piece write ups at least 350 words, if not more, to get the benefit of SEO on them.
A concluding word about the ROI on blogging
So to conclude, we have learned that
- The lifetime value of a blog post is likely going to be higher than paying for an Adwords click IF the blog offers great content that people will actually want to share. In other words, it’s much cheaper to blog than to use Adwords if you’re in it for the long-term benefits.
- Blogging is good for search engine optimization (SEO).
- Blogging about specific topics helps reign in traffic for long tail keywords. In other words, topics that target specific niche markets.
- Targeting niche markets by optimizing individual posts can help generate business for those specific topics.
- As a way to accomplish blog posting on specific topics, you can turn your portfolio into blog posts, as I have done, which can generate business from the post itself, not only from the idea that 1% of people will click around your site to see what you have to sell.