Business blogging is broken.

That was my hypothesis anyway. After about a decade writing website content for lawyers, plumbers, hospitals, and countless others, I started to wonder how much of an impact my work was actually making.

When I was first starting out, I never even stopped to consider what I was blogging for. Our clients paid us money and asked us for posts, so I wrote them. As my maturity in the industry grew, so did my skepticism that all this blogging was worthwhile.

Since then, I’ve run blog traffic analyses on countless business’s websites. Typically, those studies revealed a large percentage of blog posts getting no traffic from the Organic channel.

A large percentage of blog posts get no traffic from the Organic channel.

Because we know that lots of low-quality content can harm a site’s overall Organic performance, I usually opted to either improve, remove, or consolidate these posts. Lots of industry studies show that this type of content pruning results in traffic improvements, sometimes substantial.

Even with all this analysis telling me that a large portion of business blogs don’t get any Organic traffic, and some large industry studies corroborating that theory, I had never run my own study.

So it was time to change that.

Methodology

Disclaimer: This is a simple study evaluating a fairly small number of business blogs. Although that may not be considered “statistically significant” enough to warrant a sweeping generalization, I believe the randomness of the sampling is enough to at least support the hypothesis that there is a serious problem with business blogs.

What I did was pick 20 business websites at random. My only criteria was that they had to have a blog.

I picked from a variety of industries, including law firms, plumbing companies, CPAs, medical offices, landscaping companies, and various retail shops.

I also varied the markets in which these businesses are located: Santa Clarita, Reno NV, Provo UT, Boulder CO, Topeka KS, Omaha NE, Des Moines IA, Springfield IL, Louisville KY, Charlotte NC, Montgomery AL, Jacksonville FL, Austin TX, and Tacoma WA.

To evaluate traffic, I used Moz Keyword Explorer. Without access to each blog’s analytics data, I can’t know traffic with 100% certainty. However, with Moz KWE I’m able to see whether the business’s blog URLs are ranking on page 1 for any keywords with measurable search volume.

It’s safe to assume that URLs ranking on page 2 receive little-to-no clicks, so blogs ranking on page 2 of Google or greater are assumed to have no measurable organic traffic.

Findings

I’m not interested in calling out any businesses, so while the domain names have been removed, I have listed the city and industry of every business blog evaluated:

  1. Santa Clarita Law Firm – 4% of blog URLs ranking
  2. Santa Clarita Doctor – 0%
  3. Reno Landscaper – 0%
  4. Reno CPA – 0%
  5. Provo Clothing Boutique – 0%
  6. Provo Dentist Office – 0%
  7. Boulder Landscaping Company – 0%
  8. Topeka Law Firm – 25%
  9. Omaha Physical Therapist – <1%
  10. Omaha CPA – 0%
  11. Des Moines Law Firm – 2%
  12. Springfield Plumbers – 0%
  13. Springfield CPA – 13%
  14. Louisville Law Firm – 3%
  15. Louisville HVAC – 0%
  16. Charlotte Dental Office – 47%
  17. Montgomery Plastic Surgeon – 0%
  18. Jacksonville Law Firm – 0%
  19. Austin Landscaping Company – <1%
  20. Tacoma Law Firm – 9%

Key Insights

  • 65% of the business blogs had fewer than 1% of keywords ranking on page 1 – safe to assume their blog is drawing no traffic from the Organic channel.

65% of the business blogs had fewer than 1% of keywords ranking on page 1
  • 85% had fewer than 10% of keywords ranking on page 1 – assumption is very low Organic traffic to their blog posts.

85% had fewer than 10% of keywords ranking on page 1
  • The best business blog out of the random sample had 47% of its blog posts ranking for at least one keyword on page 1 of Google, and that was a dental office’s blog. That just goes to show that no industry is too boring to have a successful blog!

Why are so many business blogs failing to draw Organic traffic?

In 1996, Microsoft founder Bill Gates penned the words “content is king.” Even in the early days of the Internet, Gates foresaw the web as a marketplace for content.

Content is King” – Bill Gates, 1996

That phrase became the anthem of every digital marketer, who expanded the phrase to mean that the success of a website is inextricably tied to the content it produces.

While there is truth in that, it’s just vague enough to cause problems.

Companies began churning out content as a tactic to achieve success in this new digital landscape. While it worked for a time, search engines like Google soon cracked down on low-quality content, aiming to reward only websites that produced quality content that would provide true value to the searcher (ex: Panda in 2011).

“Content is King” = just vague enough to cause problems.

That “content is king” mentality lives on today, either as the modus operandi of some old-school digital marketers or in the archives of countless business blogs that were never cleaned up.

The Internet is a graveyard of countless “10 Ways to Know if Your Plumbing is Broken” posts. Many of them are so stale, ordinary, and shallow that they don’t even earn a place in Google’s index.

What should we do about it?

This is not an irreversible problem. Business blogs can add value!

In fact, I’d venture to say that high-quality business blogging is one of the highest ROI channels businesses are ignoring.

Business blogging is one of the highest ROI channels businesses are ignoring.

If you run or manage a business’s blog, I recommend the following:

Audit your content: Using Google Analytics, see which of your business’s blog posts has gotten little-to-no Organic traffic in the last year.  

content audit

Delete worthless posts: If the post isn’t ranking for any keywords, doesn’t have any backlinks, gets little-to-no Organic traffic, and doesn’t serve a business purpose, delete it. You don’t need to 301 redirect these because you’re not moving them anywhere. Just delete them.

delete posts

Consolidate redundant posts: Consider consolidating any posts that are substantially similar, or you think would be stronger together than they would be apart. Add the content from the weaker posts to the stronger post and 301 the weaker posts’ URLs to the stronger post’s URL.

merge posts

Improve posts that have potential: If a blog post is getting little-to-no Organic traffic but it’s ranking on page 2 or maybe you just think it has potential to add value to your website, improve it! Freshen up the content and formatting, add updated information, and address other related topics you may have missed.

improve posts

Monitor your Organic traffic: After performing a clean-up project like this, make sure you monitor your Organic traffic for improvements!

improve traffic

If this sounds like something you’ll never have time for (believe me – I understand!) Soapboxly offers content audits where we handle this process for you.

Wouldn’t it be nice if you could write a post once that reaches countless customers for months or even years to come?

It’s possible!