Everybody wants to see a quick return when they invest their time into something, but that rarely ends up being the outcome. In fact, the strategy that produces an immediate ROI is seldom the best strategy because the investments of time, energy, or money that you make for your business tend to be the ones that yield significant and sustained returns.
Slow and steady ultimately wins the race in content marketing, and this is widely misunderstood among marketers who go into their content campaign expecting people to flock to their business website after posting a few blog articles. This is one of the primary reasons why business owners and online marketers don’t see the conversions from content that they want.
We hope to dispel here some harmful illusions people have about content marketing, so that you can have real success with a longer-term campaign.
Don’t Expect Overnight Results
If you’re just starting out with a new business blog, then you need to understand right off the bat that it’s not going to start working right away. Your blog content most likely won’t get any significant traffic for about 12 months, at least, and that’s if you do everything right.
There are a lot of factors that play into the amount of web traffic you get, most of which affect content indiscriminately, no matter how interesting or visually appealing your articles are. If you can reach the point where you’re posting 4-5 articles per week, then that certainly doesn’t hurt, but it will still take time to progress.
Persistence is the Single Most Important Factor
When you start your content marketing blog, you have to go into it with patience and the willingness to publish blog posts, at whatever frequency you decide you can handle, without stopping for at least a year. That’s about the time you will only just begin to see really positive results.
Content marketing is a strategy that definitely yields rewards over time if you keep at it consistently, but it yields almost no results at all during the first few months, outside of one or two articles that rank a little better than your others and gain some nominal traffic. That’s going to be the exception and not the rule.
This is not to say that you won’t bring in new business through your blog in the first few months because you will; it just won’t likely amount to a return that is greater than the investment that you’re putting in by creating the content. Remember that this is an investment that requires some commitment of time on your part, not a get-rich-quick scheme.
It’s a universal quality of any campaign for online content. Blog content, social media, podcasts, or other types all require consistency over time to be successful. The longer you’re in the game, the more success you’re going to have.
As in any creative field, you can think of this period of building and waiting as a form of paying your dues which, once you’re through that time, earns you the results for which you’ve been waiting.
What Will Success Look Like?
Obviously, when you can trace new sales back to the blog, you know it’s working; but what are the signs that you’re heading in the right direction? One of the most telling metrics that you can look at is your click-through rate (CTR).
When you see that people are navigating from your blog articles to your website, even if they don’t convert to a sale when they get there, that’s a great sign that you’re on the right track. For one, it probably means that you’re targeting the right kinds of people with the blog posts you’re publishing because when they got to the blog page, they saw that this is a product for which they may be in the market.
A very obvious sign that it’s going well is when more visitors end up subscribing to the blog. Be sure to keep an eye on the amount of subscribers you have and whether that number is increasing or falling, so you can know when to pivot the content from time to time if needed. By the way, if you don’t already, clearly provide an option on every blog post to subscribe; it’s pretty much the first step you want to take after you create a blog.
And naturally, you’re going to be watching how well each post is ranking in Google search to see where your site is at with SEO, which is an accurate general indicator of whether or not your content campaign is progressing.
Obtaining a page 1 rank is the goal, of course, but that’s pretty tough to get if you haven’t been publishing content for very long. At first, it’s completely reasonable to set your sites on getting a few of your blog articles to hit page 2 in Google.
Then, after you’ve been consistently posting for 6-9 months, shoot for getting one article to rank on page 1, which is within your reach after that amount of time, as long as you don’t focus on keywords and phrases that every other blog on the planet is competing for, like, “how to make money”, or, “10 steps to a successful business”.
Those kind of mainstream keywords are not really feasible for you to attempt when your blog is new because you’ll simply get buried on page 85 in Google. This will make a little more sense in the next section.
Domain Authority & Google Ranking
Domain Authority (DA) is the one thing you should remember after you’re finished reading this post because it’s probably the most useful metric at your disposal as you build your blog. Here’s what it is.
DA was created by Moz, an SEO tracking and research tool available online–which you should definitely be using, by the way–but this basically just allows you to attach a number to something that was already being executed by Google.
As defined by Moz on their website, domain authority is, “a search engine ranking score that predicts how well a website will rank on search engine result pages (SERPs)”. The score ranges from 0 to 100, 40-50 being a pretty decent score; 80 being a damn good score.
The criteria that factor into your website’s DA are numerous and include things like the number of outside sites that link back to your site (backlinks), and Moz’ own logarithm is using all of those factors to produce your score. You can learn more about how to influence your DA score by visiting their website.
DA attempts to tell you how much power, or “weight” your website has to rank highly in Google search, but it’s important to remember that DA is an approximation. Google uses a ton of different criteria to calculate how well it is going to rank your content in search, and those factors it uses to determine your ranking position are constantly in flux; so, it’s really impossible to put an absolute value on a prediction of how well you can rank.
That said, DA is just about the most accurate metric available to tell you how much weight your blog posts have in SEO to beat competitors, which is why it’s an extremely useful indicator.
Page #1 Rankings Will Take Time
No matter how good your content is, it’s basically impossible to perform well in SEO immediately when you start a blog, unless your website already gets a massive number of daily unique visitors. A good way to understand Google’s methods of ranking online content is to think of it like our national credit system.
Everything you do is reported to the credit bureaus (just one instead of three, in this case), and over time, you can build up your score, similar to your domain authority with SEO. There are penalties for screwing up in the real world, and there are also penalties for screwing up with your online content.
Google actually does penalize sites for violating their policies for posting content, and they will definitely take your rank down a notch or two for those violations until you resolve it. FYI, you really don’t have to worry about those if you’re just creating blog articles and posting them; any site that gets penalized probably knew what they were doing.
Have you ever wondered how Google gathers all this information that they use to decide how well they will rank your blog articles? To profoundly oversimplify it, they essentially have algorithms in place which are constantly analyzing all online content, unnervingly called Google’s “spiders”, whose only purpose is to crawl every piece of content on the web and analyze it for specific elements.
The spiders are looking for things like articles’ subject matter and subheadings which match the headline, the number of backlinks to the site, and content that is truly relevant to people searching for that topic.
Backlinks are something especially important that you need for improved SEO ranking. You can learn all about backlinks in our recent post about this very thing, here:
Building a Base of Subscribers
Subscribers to your blog are a crucial part of your content marketing campaign. When someone clicks that subscribe button, that means the content you are putting out holds real value with them, which makes them more likely to buy from you, as well as encourage their friends and family to check out your site.
When you build your blog post pages, start with a simple CTA to prompt visitors to subscribe if they want to, but definitely don’t harangue people for a subscription. Let them know that they will receive an email for every new post, while selling it by telling them how the content you post will help them with a given subject, entertain them, or whatever is the focus of your blog.
As your posts become more visible in Google search when you start to make more headway with SEO, more people will be subscribing, building your base over time which then contributes to some social proof of the value of your content. Once you begin to gain traction with the blog, it’s also a good idea to organize an email marketing campaign to fuel it further.
To rank well in Google search and create a successful content marketing campaign is actually relatively simple. In a nutshell, all you need to do is create quality, actionable content from which people can extract real value, get it in front of as many pairs of eyes as possible, and keep doing it consistently over a long period of time without any lapse in frequency or quality.
Another final tip for winning the attention of Google searchers and ranking better is to simply think about what you would click on if it were you, what would make you click away and avoid that, and what would stand out to you from other content. This goes not only for the headlines of your blog articles, but for the articles’ content, itself.
If you still need more direction and ideas about how to create a great business blog, please go back and check out the previous articles in this series for proven tips that you can use today. Thanks for reading, and we’ll see you soon!
Check out all of the articles in our series, Building Your Blog 101:
Stephanie is the Marketing Director at Talkroute and has been featured in Forbes, Inc, and Entrepreneur as a leading authority on business and telecommunications.
Stephanie is also the chief editor and contributing author for the Talkroute blog helping more than 100k entrepreneurs to start, run, and grow their businesses.