Why Your Website Needs a Blog
In recent years microsites have become more popular, for specific campaigns. However, some tech or B2B SaaS startups have decided to follow suit using basic microsites for their startup site. It is vital that these sites include a blog as this article outlines.
Co-Founder / CEO
November 29, 2023
A growing number of starter tech and B2B SaaS websites are waiting too long to add a blog section to their site. This may save some short-term pain (in terms of needing to create content) especially when you are time-pressed, but it undermines their very chance of survival as this blog will argue.
The Purpose of a Blog
A blog represents a key constituent part of any startup website. It is designed to house slightly longer form content - and in a B2B or tech website context is a vehicle to share your story, and to educate your target buyers.
Having reviewed several starter sites recently I was struck by the absence of a blog section on several of them.
As a startup founder myself I get it - blogging is not easy. It is an extra job, where the payoff is uncertain.
You are faced with prioritizing from a long list of jobs that need to be done.
Skipping a blog seems like a sensible call.
Unfortunately, it's not.
Firstly a brand new website tends to have a low “domain authority”. While some people debate the precise relevance of this, it is a directionally accurate concept. It represents an attempt to score a website based on domain longevity, number of backlinks etc. The general point is that it is much harder for a brand-new site to “outrank” a more established website.
One way to start improving your domain authority is to ensure you are regularly adding content and updating your website. The publication of long-form blog content represents an obvious route towards achieving this.
At the core of this activity is the need to rank organically on Google. And Google tends to reward “long form content” over pages lacking content (aim for 1500-2000 words if possible).
Attracting visitors to your website is a vitally important activity for all B2B SaaS companies. The different ways you can do this are pretty limited. At the most basic level you either (1) earn the eyeballs or (2) you pay for them. A compelling content strategy with blogging at the heart of it helps you earn them.
For VC-backed companies, paid acquisition represents a common route to attract visitors (an added advantage of this approach is you can target based on “commercial intent” also). However, Google is the only show in town and the cost to acquire “clicks” in most categories is only going one way. Unless you have very deep pockets, relying solely on this route is not a sensible strategy.
Inbound marketing refers to the concept of seeking to attract a relevant audience via a content strategy. “Relevant” is an important distinction here. Ideally, you are clear on who your solution is designed for (known as the Ideal Customer Profile (ICP) or persona).
Writing content that helps your ICP, represents a sensible strategy, and by writing content on specific keywords, and following best SEO practices it helps ensure you rank for relevant search terms.
There is no doubt this strategy is getting more difficult (in part due to intense competition, but also due to how Google has changed the results pages offering more and more slots to paid results over time). But that doesn’t mean a content lead approach should not be a core part of your startup's marketing strategy. It should. And that means blogging.
Most startup companies utilize blogging in some form and it can be tempting to ignore it as being too hard, or too time-consuming to prioritize. But without a strong blog section, you remove a key route to bringing qualified traffic to your site, and also remove the ability to educate the market about the challenges you see and the unique perspective you bring to bear.
Having clarity as to the broad topics you should write about is also important. This should start with a clear understanding of the primary set of keywords that you’d like to rank for, ensuring that these topics are covered by you, and the content is optimized for SEO.
In short, you need to write about topics closely related to the core proposition you are offering.
When Not to Blog?
There are a few scenarios when blogging is generally not needed.
If your microsite or landing page is for a specific purpose e.g. a campaign, or paid acquisition (a stand alone landing page for a Google Ad campaign)
If you have an offering that is not international and is for one geographic market only (otherwise you run the risk of educating lots of people who can’t buy from you which doesn’t make commercial sense)
Your main “route to market” is outbound e.g. cold email
You have a very strong referral channel
You are focused on guest blogging on 3rd party websites who have a similar ICP (but already have an established web presence and thus already have traffic)
You don’t want to attract any traffic to your site - perhaps you are in stealth or test mode
These represent the main “good” reasons you may not prioritize blogging for your startup. However, for those who want to attract attention then a blog is a pre requisite for success.
In short, if the reasons you don’t have a blog are due to a lack of time, or in-house capability you need to fix this. Otherwise, when you “lift the hood” and look at Google Analytics 4 (GA4) or a similar analytics platform you might be surprised at how small the visitor numbers on your site are. B2B sites generate a lot less traffic than B2C ones in general, so the last thing you want to be forced into is having to dial up your spend on paid acquisition as your only route to get some traffic.
Afterall, leads are a function of traffic volumes. No traffic = no leads.
Does Blogging Work?
There is no doubt that blogging is an effective way to bring traffic to a website, especially for those who do not want to blow the (often limited) budget on paid acquisition (either because of cash management or because they are pre product-market fit).
It does take time to pay off though, and that is one of the most frustrating issues with it, and it can also be difficult to rank if you are in a category that is saturated with more established competitors with deeper pockets, and a much higher domain authority who are cranking out content also.
If this is the case, the best route is to avoid competing on the main keyword set that your competitors do, and instead look for opportunities where the search volumes may be lower, but where the search term is still related to your core offering.
For blogging to work though you need to ensure the fundamentals are in place. These include:
Offering real value with the content (educational or strong perspectives)
Long form content trumps short blogs (aim for 1500 words plus)
Ensure the SEO elements are in place incl Meta title, description, H1 and URL (they should all consistently align on the keyword being targeted by the article)
Index all new content via Google Search Console
Add internal links to all blog content so you create a network effect
Amplify the published content by promoting on social media
Target 2-3 articles a week if you can. Once a month is not enough to make a dent.
Repurpose audio transcripts from senior leaders to help stay on message
It is also worth noting that for many early stage companies it can be very hard to attribute effectively. While GA4 and Google Search Console (GSC) can help, it can be very difficult to tie specific content to actual leads (a primary goal of most tech sites). In a data-driven world this is far from ideal. Afterall, we all want to ensure that our areas of focus are generating results.
By way of an example, blogging has been effective for me over many years as a primary source of traffic to various sites I was responsible for (when I had no budget for paid acquisition).
As this following chart from Google Search Console illustrates, here at Contento, we’ve been slowly but steadily gaining increased traffic (without undertaking any paid acquisition) largely on the back of a twin strategy of (a) blog content and (b) directory listings (backlinks are another important factor as you seek to boost your domain authority in your formative years). As is evident in the illustration it has almost taken a year to generate traffic from organic search, and even still the growth is relatively modest.
Use of AI
If resource constraints (either time or capability) are an issue it may be tempting to use AI to take a shortcut to create some blogs. I’d argue against going down this route. While AI can help with topic ideation, or with what sections you should cover, it should not be used to produce the actual content.
Firstly, AI generated content is primarily regurgitating content from other sources (without attribution or without “fact checking”).
Secondly, the style can be hard to engage with - AI generated content lacks examples, perspective or nuance.
Finally, I suspect at some stage Google will penalize AI generated content. Is it worth taking the risk? I’d argue not.
If you are the founder of a tech startup it is tempting to skip blogging as a strategy that is no longer as effective as it once was and thus worth discounting for now. As this blog has argued, by not blogging on your site you significantly inhibit the ability of your site to generate meaningful traffic without paying for it. While it takes time to see the fruits of your labor, starting early and sticking with it will pay dividends before too long.