Is it the Content or the Author that Matters for a Blog?

St Jerome

If, like me, you subscribe to a lot of marketing RSS feeds, then you can’t have failed to notice the almost overwhelming proportion of posts about content marketing/SEO and how choosing appropriate and useful content for, say, your blog is a killer way of drawing in early stage leads. This SEOMoz post is a good guide to improving your blog reach, for example.

Hard to disagree with that. However, we’ve been working on a blog at our company recently (The Future of Deployment if anyone is interested!) and, if I look at the traffic on that site over time, it struck me that actually there were three primary things that affected the impact/success of any given post (NB: the blog is at an early stage, so we’re talking about the generation of new traffic here, rather than reads from existing subscribers). In approximate order of importance (IMHO):

  1. Who the author is,
  2. Whether people link to it (because it’s interesting),
  3. The SEO credentials of the content.

To explain these a little further – the first is reasonably obvious. We’re lucky at Red Gate to have prominent, well known people who can write for us. When they blog, they promote their posts, everyone thinks “Hey, Joe Bloggs has written something new, I’ll check that out” and we get good traffic.

The second source of traffic is, as it says, about whether the community out there, or others (for example our sales people), find the content useful enough to either link to the post, or send links to the post out to the public.

And third is the rather narrow task of using a tool like Yoast’s SEO tool for WordPress (which I love BTW) to get the SEO right on your blog post.

Of course, if you can, you work on all of these – you get great people writing for you, you reach out to the community to get the word out, and you work on your SEO representation. But, as ever, we only have limited time, and my conclusion, from looking at what works, is that, basically, it’s the 1st item which has seemed to work best for us. So, if you want traffic, it’s not what you write that matters but more who writes it. This then leads to the next logical conclusion which is that, perhaps, if you want to really make a success of a blog, time directed at making friends in your community, particularly with people who are already very well known, may be considerably more valuable than time spent trying to get your content just-so.

Of course what your doing here is buying in their reputation, hoping some of it will rub off on your blog, then your company. But this seems reasonable – there’s an awful lot of great content out there (a good post here, from Hubspot about how “Everyone’s doing it, so you’d better be good”) and actually a lot of it is reasonably obvious “no-brainer” stuff (e.g. I must have read 100 times, “Make your content interesting if you want people to read it” – thanks for that). So how can you differentiate? If someone who you respect, who you trust, and who you know is an expert in his/her field is telling you something, you’re far more likely to listen, and hear what’s being said above the noise.

So may be your time is better spent taking some of the hot dogs in your industry out for expensive lunches, rather than hunching over a laptop trying to craft the perfect erudite post on a given topic. Ah, the sacrifices we have to make as marketers…




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