The Importance and Benefits of a Blog, Illustrated by Google Analytics

importance of blog(Google Trends search on the term "blog" - Click to enlarge)More and more evidence is showing the importance of investing in tools like blogs and social media as a vital part of your online marketing strategy.  Benefits of a blog include building an ever-growing source of lower-than-average cost leads and standing out as an expert in your industry.  This week's post centers on some recent industry blog stats supported by some Google Analytics and Google Trends parlor tricks to highlight the growing importance having a blog.

Blogging has been around for quite a few years now but it's just now starting to really take off for companies, according to some recent articles by eMarketer.  Companies increased blog participation from 16% to 22% between 2008 and 2009. And bolstered by a lower-than-average cost-per-lead, companies are "spiraling" their spending towards blogs and social media as they realize the growing importance of the blog.

Benefits of a blog include promoting yourself in a friendly way by educating and entertaining the people researching your topic of expertise.  The goal of each post is to help solve a problem or answer a question, not to shill your product or service. Don't be afraid to point out the occasional chuckle, epiphany or brain-teaser in your industry. Ultimately, bringing your niche together on your website to have a conversation about something interesting also means potentially creating a lot of traffic on your blog.

Successful blog posts pull in tons of traffic from search engines, and other blogs/websites.  They can also provide huge spikes in traffic when they "go viral," which occurs when many people quickly spread a link to an Internet destination through social networks like Youtube, Twitter and Facebook.  That traffic can then be routed through your company's online goal funnels to seriously move the revenue needle.  Just look at how easy Twin Cities Online Marketing firm Top Rank makes it look in their recent case study on a client's online revenue cycle.

benefit of blogSometimes it just takes the right tweet to generate a large spike in traffic to your site.

Not every topic is going to be worthy of a conversation, though. That's why it's important to use a web analytics platform like Google Analytics to see which posts are creating the most results.  Over time, you'll see how consistently creating new blogs posts pulls in more and more traffic to your site. Think of it as planting seeds throughout the internet, growing into nice little streams of traffic, new leads and business. The brief little video that follows, courtesy of the Motion Charts feature of Google Analytic's Top Content reports, illustrates this effect by looking at some of Big Picture Web's recent traffic.

Big Picture Web's Blog Post Pageviews Per Day, 12/5/09 - 3/7/10 (via Google Analytics Motion Charts):

As you watch the video, you'll see the number of pageviews each article received over time. As I added more posts to Big Picture Web, I slowly built my overall website traffic. Posts like my short review of Squarespace (the yellow bar on the chart) delivered a steady trickle of pageviews by consistently ranking in search engines for searches like "squarespace review." On the other hand, you can also see when Twitter delivered a spike of traffic to my blog when Avinash Kaushik (a Web Metrics Ninja) tweeted a link to my post on using Google Analytics to track comments on your blog (the orange bar on the chart).

In the end, blogs help build the most important aspect of any relationship, trust.  It may be days or months after someone reads your how-to article until they decide they want to call in the pro's.  But when it finally comes time for them to make a purchase, they're remember that you were the expert that helped them. You demonstrated your skills through all your helpful blog posts and have overcome a major hurdle to new business just by consistently sharing your thoughts. And therein lies the importance and benefits of a blog.

What tips could you share about your industry through a blog to help to your community? And how are you using your web analytics platform to gauge your success? Leave a comment below to continue the conversation.