Conversations vs SEO

Daniel Hindin, over at SpinSucks wrote an interesting post about business blogs and conversations. I chimed in with my own two cents this morning because being the sceptic that I am, I couldn’t help wonder if that kind of B2B blogging strategy means you’re less likely to turn your traffic into customers if you put the emphasis on conversation rather than lead generation.

Perhaps lead generation is too crude a term but you know what I mean. There’s this whole school of thought that blogs are:

  • great for SEO
  • get you near the top of Google
  • can help you target keywords
  • and provide traffic to your website.

And as any blog marketer knows, traffic is a prerequisite for sales.

My own approach to business blogging is a combination of blogging whatever takes my fancy, coupled with a mirrored with a hefty dose of SEO strategy and the desire to make a living.

I used to blog as purely a means of creative, self-expression but that died away after I changed career and started my own business.

I’m yet to consciously set out to be more conversational on this site. I try and do that on Twitter. But I have taken considerable steps over the last year to increase my traffic through SEO and keywords.

WP Scribe SEO Plugin

As I’ve noted before, since I installed the SEO plugin the weekend it launched, I’ve seen a considerable rise in traffic to this site. I also get better results in Google and, as it happens, better conversion rates.

Although I love the conversations I have and witness on blogs, I tend to regard blogs as a strategic channel for business growth (and a way of making new friends interested in the online communications industry)! That’s why I was interested in Danny Brown’s post last week recommending Arkayne, a similar plugin to Scribe that seemed good for business.

Straight from the Horse’s Mouth

Even my customers seem to see business blogs as a stepping stone to business. For instance, I always ask new customers how they found me and last week’s response was fairly typical:

“You were at the top of Google for the phrase I searched for,” the client told me. “And your blog offered what I was looking for. That’s why I contacted you.”

She was a first time visitor to my site, hadn’t joined the conversation and simply “purchased” my services. Which was nice.

Her decision had nothing to do with community or conversation.

Don’t Get Me Wrong

I’m Not Knocking Conversations. Not per se. My own motivation for reading blogs is that I love the commentary and discussion that goes on because I follow many that relate to my interests.

What’s more, I believe a blog that has a conversational tone, that strikes a chord with a reader is always going to be more successful than one that comes across as stuffed with keyword phrases, and lacks commitment and engagement.

What About Our Customers?

If, nevertheless, we’re going to go out there and pimp business blogs as an essential (or highly valuable) B2B marketing tool, I think we have to identify with real world case studies just how blogs help build a business.

Is it the conversation that leads to sales? Or is the combination of a conversational tone combined with great SEO, call-to-actions and well-crafted landing pages?

I find it easier to demonstrate that SEO leads to sales, but it’s harder to show how conversations convert. Or what do you think ?