Jeremy Durant
Jeremy Durant 20 November 2018

Thought Leadership vs. SEO: Your Blogging Objective Matters

You may feel the pressure to start content marketing for your company. The impetus to launch into content marketing may vary. Your competitors are doing it. It seems like everywhere you turn, marketers are talking about it. You have finally decided that it’s time to revamp your digital marketing strategy and content marketing is an area you haven’t delved into yet.

Failing to clearly define the objective of a content marketing strategy, specifically a blogging strategy, is why so many firms either fail at it or don’t elicit the results they expect. Whatever the reason for your interest in content marketing, it’s essential that you determine your expectations before you invest time, money, and resources.

Content is essential to reaching your target audience. Whether you operate in a competitive market or are just looking to grow market share in your industry, content marketing has proven to be a successful avenue for getting results – when executed properly.

Blogging is the natural choice when launching a B2B content marketing strategy. Why? Because it doesn’t require a lot of design hours and draws on the existing knowledge of your internal team. However, to get results, it’s imperative to delineate the objectives of your blogging strategy before you start. Otherwise, your blog posts will end up being a sporadic array of topics without a clear structure.

What is your blogging objective?

The two most common objectives of a B2B blogging strategy are establishing thought leadership and search engine optimization. While they do not need to be mutually exclusive, they can lead to separate outcomes.

Thought leadership

Crafting thought leadership through blogging is an excellent way to achieve the following results:

  • Build credibility in a competitive industry
  • Explain complicated products/services/applications
  • Create trust for a lesser known or new brand
  • Increase brand awareness to grow market share
  • Differentiate your brand and build value

If you are looking to achieve any of the above-mentioned goals, creating thought leadership through blogging requires well-written, thought-provoking articles. To achieve credible thought leadership articles, all you need is a seasoned writer and your team of subject matter experts. It entails focusing on topics that will resonate with your target market and introduces new (not always popular) ideas that will stand out from others in the industry. The ideas don’t need to be ground-breaking, but they need to cover fresh angles or trends.

Search engine optimization (SEO)

Blogging to improve your B2B website’s rankings and visitor traffic is not less meaningful than thought leadership when it is executed properly. While you can create content to attract more visitors to your site, it should also be quality content and not just clickbait or shoddy writing. The objective of blogging for SEO focuses on the following goals:

  • Attracting more quality website visits (not always more, but definitely better)
  • Building visibility online
  • Increasing rankings on search engines
  • Improving website conversions (more website form leads)

It’s essential that blogging for SEO is done properly and is not a bunch of copy slapped together. It should still require the input and insights of your subject matter experts, but it is tailored around an SEO strategy that relies on target keywords. Working with a reliable SEO firm or individual and following best practices is critical to the success of this type of blogging strategy. Unfortunately, there are a lot of folks out there who aren’t following SEO best practices and end up causing more damage to a company’s brand in the long run.

Since one of the objectives of blogging for SEO is to improve website conversions or to get better-qualified website leads, it’s important that the blog posts are optimized for search engines but still providing valuable information for human beings. SEO is worthless if it brings in a bunch of traffic but doesn’t yield quality leads. At the end of the day, quality content is better than a large quantity of content. For example, if you only have the resources to craft two quality blog posts a month, that will garner better quality website visits than publishing eight sub-par blog posts a month.

Your objective defines your strategy

What you want to get out of your blogging determines the roadmap to get there. Once you have determined the main objective of your blogging strategy, you need to do to build out your strategy, either:

  • Crafting a calendar based on current topics/trends for thought leadership
  • Creating a calendar based on a keyword strategy for SEO

Knowing your objective will help you create a consistent flow of blog posts. It will also ensure that the messaging/content of those blogs is cohesive and will build out a loyal audience. Having a clear blogging strategy enables your audience to know what they can expect from you.

The overall goal determines how the content is written as well. For example, thought leadership is often longer form content and may reference trends or research from your industry. On the other hand, blogging for SEO typically includes smaller, accessible content pieces that provide actionable takeaways. You don’t need to hit a certain word count for either type of blogging, but you need to ensure the blog post is long enough to clearly communicate valuable insights without dragging on and boring the reader.

Strategize before you begin

The real takeaway is to spend time in the beginning to determine your objective. Knowing where you want to end up will help you pick the right road to get there. Now, you can have multiple objectives, but there is some give and take. If you want to blog for SEO while also building up thought leadership, you’ll need to be disciplined so that you can post every month. You can’t spend weeks poring over an article. Similarly, if you are only focusing on SEO, make sure you do your due diligence and think through the value your content offers.  

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