Current advice is to publish new content on your blog on as close to a daily basis as you can manage. Current wisdom is also to provide as much value to your users as possible. On the other hand, Google says if you’re publishing content unrelated to your business, your blog may falter in terms of SEO. Where do you draw the line? Is publishing articles unrelated to your business a death knell for your SEO?
There are a wide range of subjects you can write about on your blog, but all of them fall roughly into three categories. These are Directly Related, Indirectly Related and Unrelated. To decide which kind of posts are best for your blog, you should understand each category of posts.
Directly related posts are the posts you write about your business itself. They’re your product announcements. They’re your company profiles and promotions. They’re your contests. Anything you write about that’s directly promoting your brand, your business and your shop is a post directly related to you.
These posts are, obviously, perfect for your blog. The only risk you run in publishing them is in being too self-promotional, which isn’t an issue within a single post. No one, not a user, not a search engine, is going to punish you for promoting your business on your own blog. It’s only when you publish self-promotional content constantly that you run into issues.
And there’s the rub. If you’re publishing nothing but directly related posts, you can’t help but be promotional about your business. Why would you write a post about a product you sell without inviting people to see your shop, where you sell it? This is the biggest problem with directly related content. The other problem is the range of topics. If you’re a small business in a small niche without much history, there’s not much you can write about that’s directly related to your business.
Indirectly related posts are the posts you write about things that are somewhat related to your business, but aren’t about your business itself. For example, if you’re in the business of selling shoes, you might write a post about something Nike did recently. You might write something about the most popular colors of shoes. You might write something about an evolution in insole technology. All of these are not necessarily topics you deal with directly – your company didn’t make the insoles you’re writing about – but they are related to your business.
These posts are perfect for your blog for a few reasons. First, they break up the monotony of a blog filled with directly related content. You don’t always need to tie an indirectly related post back into your business. If there’s a natural way to do it, such as if it pertains to a product you’re trying to get to sell, you can mention that. Otherwise, you don’t really need to.
The one potential problem with indirectly related content is that it can start to vary wildly in topic. Again, if your business is related to the sale of shoes, where do you draw the line? Do you write an article about a lawsuit related to a particular shoe brand? Do you write an article about the leather made for shoes and other products? Do you write an article about Chinese sweatshops and how they relate to shoe manufacture? All of these may be indirectly related to your business, but they aren’t really related to each other. An article about a lawsuit and an article about leather on the same blog, at first glance, don’t fit together.
The problem with this is not the topics themselves. Many users like a blog that covers a wide range of issues. You may draw more users from more varied places with a wide range of topics. The problem you may encounter comes in SEO. Specifically, keywords. Keywords determine the sort of queries that your blog will show up in. A more focused site, with everything relating to a small group of keywords, is more likely to rise in the ranks for those keywords. On the other hand, if you’re covering topics as varied as leather and Chinese manufacturing processes, your keywords are likely to be all over the map. Otherwise you’re shoehorning them in and the unnatural keyword use can be harmful to your SEO.
The bottom line with indirectly related posts is to include them, but do so more for user value than for SEO benefit. Avoid spamming your keywords in content that can’t support it. Don’t be afraid to write content that isn’t directly related to your business, if you can tie it in to your industry in some way.
Unrelated blog posts are those posts that have nothing to do with your business or your industry. Again, with the shoe sales example, an unrelated post might be about fast food, jet manufacture, or the moon landing. None of these have anything to do with your business or your industry. It would be impossible to naturally tie your keywords into the content.
There’s no real benefit to publishing unrelated content. Even if it provides some value to someone, that someone is unlikely to be in your audience. People checking the blog of a shoe store are unlikely to be looking for a post about robotics, and so they will skip over it.
That’s the real issue; even if the content is valuable and well written, it doesn’t fit user expectations and will more than likely be ignored. If it is ignored, it’s doing you no good. That same post might be a valuable addition to a robotics blog, but it just doesn’t fit on a shoe store blog.
There’s also the same keyword and focus issue with unrelated content as there is with indirectly related content. The topics grow even more varied, and that means they’re providing even less SEO value. If, for some reason, you still try to tie your keywords back to that content, it looks even more like keyword spam. Scraped articles with non sequitur lines for keywords is a common issue in SEO, and it can incur stiff penalties from the search engines.
So it’s obvious that unrelated content can be detrimental to your site. At the absolute minimum, it’s providing very little value. On the other hand, indirectly related content is not only allowable, it’s vital. A blog based entirely on your business will run out of topics very quickly. Use indirectly related content to vary your posts and give users more value. Teach them something they didn’t know about your industry or your products. Provide use guides and care instructions for your products. Include your keywords when possible, and don’t worry about the SEO penalties of the tertiary topic.