Content marketing has become something of a buzzword over the last few years, and for good reason. It’s one of the best ways to increase traffic to your website and it’s easy to measure with Google Analytics. Every brand should engage in content marketing in some way, shape or form, but to what extent?

Blogs are often the first medium that comes to mind when a brand is looking to jump into content marketing. They provide a platform to publish content and are therefore thought of as the key to a successful content marketing strategy. What most brands neglect, especially after creating a blog, is the content opportunities that exist on their current websites. Often there are so many gaps in content on the site’s product and service pages that a blog should be delayed until those gaps are filled.

Think of what you want to achieve with your content. Do you want to build a vibrant community around your brand? Or do you just want to increase conversion rates and traffic from Google?

The primary purpose of a blog is to build a community and increase repeat business from existing customers. If these things are not important to your brand, you have no business pursuing a blog. Remember, you can create content to increase conversion rates and traffic to your website without being tied to a blog that will need a never-ending stream of new content to remain relevant.

Is a blog right for your business?

I previously worked at a marketing agency with a variety of clients in different industries. I once worked with a criminal defense lawyer who was convinced he needed a blog to increase business. We advised against it but were eventually overruled. Over the next two years, we published 103 articles for his blog until we finally convinced him to turn it off. The blog failed to bring in business and did not lead to any social shares or links back to his website.

The blog was wrong for his business. For one, the lawyer was only licensed to practice in Ohio. There is only so much content worth creating that is specific to Ohio laws, and those topics usually had very low search volume on Google. Secondly, a criminal defense lawyer is one example of a professional who doesn’t need an online social community. When someone needs an attorney, they typically don’t go on social media to share everything about their case. (At least, the smart ones don’t.) With no one sharing the content or searching for it on Google, the blog barely garnered any views. The lawyer wasn’t going to pay for advertising to get more blog readers; that ad budget was better spent on paid online advertising outlets such as AdWords.

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This lawyer would have been better served by focusing on the gaps of content on his current site, as well as looking for guest publishing opportunities where he could give his opinion on third-party local websites with already established reader bases. We could have written about his settlements and verdicts, the different practice areas he covers and his success rates with those areas. This content would have helped increase traffic from Google back to his website and increased conversion rates on the service pages of his site. Additionally, just one guest post on a local news site would have exposed his firm to more readers than the 103 blog posts we published on his site.

There is no sense in building a community around your brand if your customers don’t want to be publicly associated with you. Consider your business and your clientele: People don’t typically want to be publicly associated with their criminal defense lawyers, doctors, psychologists and other confidential service providers.

Fresh content is not a complete marketing strategy.

It’s true that Google loves fresh content, but that content doesn’t only need to live on your own website. Just a few guest posts on other websites that link back to your website can often do much more for your brand than a half-hearted blog on your site that is not promoted with ad dollars or blogger and journalist outreach.

Before embarking on a new content marketing campaign, remember to think about what you want to achieve with your content.