shutterstock_178135424Generating inbound links to a company website has always been the linchpin of off-site SEO efforts. However, over the past few years, Google has taken away many of the off-site SEO activities companies engaged in to generate inbound links. For the most part, Google’s restrictive algorithmic actions have been constructive, as the Panda and Penguin updates (most notably) encourage high-quality content and discourage the mechanical, manipulative creation of non-substantive inbound links. In short, in today’s SEO environment, high-quality content earns links by having intrinsic value.

Company Blogs Demonstrate Commitment to Content Quality

Because outstanding content is so important to online publishers — not just for SEO, but also and more importantly for serving their audiences — having a company blog can make the difference between placing a piece of off-site content on a highly desirable website or settling for second- (or third-) best.

Top publishers are concerned about the credibility of their contributors. There is no better way for a company to showcase its expertise, relevance and insight than through a strong company blog. Top online publishers receive pitches from potential contributors by the score every day; giving them a company blog to review in their vetting process gives you a strong leg up on the competition and a much stronger chance of getting your articles — and links — placed on publishing sites most relevant and respected in your niche.

Company Blogs Serve as an Entry Point for Social Traffic

A second important value of a company blog: giving traffic from social shares of off-site content is a logical place to enter the company website. For the most part, social media for business use favors blog content over standard company website content. Thus, if off-site articles contain links to company blog posts, social media consumers of those articles are more likely to click on them than they would be to click on links to the company’s product or service pages. Social media users don’t want to be sold to; they infer they will be sold to on standard product and service pages.

In addition, some online publishers are reluctant to include links to standard Web pages, particularly product and service pages, for the same reason. Articles that are too overtly self-promotional get a bad reaction from audiences; thus, having company blog posts that are highly informational in tone and content provides publishers with an acceptable link option. Result: more off-site content placed.

Of course, all of this means the company blog should be designed with a conversion funnel that draws visitors into the main website and that gets them interested in learning more about the company’s products, services and, yes, being sold to. Carefully placed calls to action and offers on the blog post template will bring qualified prospects deeper into the website — just take care not to overdo it, as it will turn off qualified and unqualified visitors alike.

Company Blogs Generate Natural Links

Beyond supporting article-writing campaigns for SEO, company blogs also have great potential to generate natural links: the very best kind. By creating true evergreen content on the company blog — that is, content of strong, long-lasting value — companies give publishers in their niche and related niches content they want to link to, without any encouragement from the source. Creating evergreen content takes a lot of skill and effort, but has the capacity to generate links far greater in quantity and quality than what can be achieved through a one-off article-writing campaign.

To Blog or Not to Blog?

Can off-site SEO succeed without a company blog? Yes, but success will come harder. True, maintaining a company blog takes a big effort, but companies should factor into the equation the many other benefits of a company blog in addition to supporting off-site SEO. First, a company blog improves on-site SEO, by virtue of adding fresh, relevant, high-quality content to the website. Second, it helps establish credibility and engagement with customers and prospects. Third, it supports brand awareness and brand image by communicating key messages in a personal style with subscribers and social media users.

Add all of this up and a company blog is a marketing opportunity too good to ignore.