Study Finds Lots of Blogs Have Basic Structural Problems

A new study looked at how blogs tend to be structured. While the data sample is small, it does suggest 2 concrete takeaways that can undermine your legal blog’s potential on the SEO (search engine optimization) front.

Ensuring that you are not making these same mistakes can drastically help the strength of your law firm’s legal blog in online marketing.

Study: Overhead Pages and Self-Aging Blogs are Prevalent

The study was done by Perficient Digital, an online marketing company. The study looked at 100 blogs and found 2 things that were disturbingly common:

  1. There were lots of non-blog-post pages in a blog, and
  2. Of the blog posts that did exist, there were lots of them that were extremely far from the site’s home page.

Over Half of Blogs are Filled With Non-Blog Posts

A big finding in the study was that lots of blogs are made up of content that comes in non-blog-post form: In 54% of blogs at least 7 in 10 pages were not a blog post.

This sounds strange in theory, so let’s look at it, in practice.

On the Myers Freelance blog, we’ve published 233 posts since we started in October, 2015. However, there are more than 233 pages in our blog. There are also pages for:

These pages are not blog posts, per se. In the end, the Myers Freelance blog contains these 321 pages, plus a few others that work behind the scenes.

That makes our blog-post-to-not-blog-post ratio quite good: 73% of our blog’s content is in the form of a blog post.

The study, however, found that other blogs are often the opposite – more than half of them contain content that is less than 30% in the form of a blog post. This poses a problem because these non-blog posts have to be crawled by search engines, but will likely never be ranked.

There are plenty of potential reasons for a blog to fail in this regard:

  • Tags are duplicated or used inefficiently,
  • The blog’s overarching topic is ill-defined so there’s too much breadth in the posts, leading to an overabundance of categories and tags,
  • There are multiple authors and no editors, so tags proliferate, or
  • The blog died soon after its inception, keeping the blog post number down.

Blogs Become Distant from the Home Page Over Time

The study also found that out of the 1,073,417 blog posts it covered, two-thirds of them had a link depth greater than 5 clicks.

This meant that, to find these blog posts, you’d have to make at least 5 clicks from the home page. Readers really have to dig to find them.

Digging for old blog posts hurts your SEO

Again, an example would help. Imagine you were looking for our old blog post on click-through-rate statistics. You start at our home page, click on the Our Blog link in the top right, and then scroll to the bottom of every page to click on the “Older posts” link and manually move through our old posts until you found the article.

If you did this, you would click 22 times before you could read the post. 22 would be the post’s link depth; so long this was the quickest way to the article.

Of course, it isn’t the quickest way to this old article. Instead, we added the archive section on the right side of our blog. With the archive feature, you could click and move from the homepage:

  1. To Our Blog,
  2. To November 2015,
  3. To the article on click-through-rate.

In short, our archive feature cut the link depth of this old article from 22 down to 3.

Most blogs, however, don’t have features like our archive listing set up to help people (and search engine crawlers) quickly find older posts. In active blogs, an old post’s link depth gradually increases as it gets buried further and further from the home page with new content. The study found that 2.5% of blog posts had become so buried that it would take more than 100 clicks to find it. 0.3% of posts took more than a thousand clicks.

Solutions to Link Depth and Non-Blog Content

Solutions to SEO problems are often complicated, nuanced, and time-intensive.

Cleaning unnecessary non-blog content from your legal blog is one of them, especially if you have been running your legal blog for some time. It can take some soul searching to decide what, exactly, your legal blog covers, come up with relevant categories in that subject, and then wrestle every (yes, every) single blog post into one of those categories. It can take less soul searching but far more drudge work to combine duplicative tags and make sure your existing blog posts fit into them.

But streamlining your blog and taking away dead ends can pay dividends in the long run. Search engines will be able to crawl your blog more quickly and make connections between posts more easily.

Fixing link depth is, thankfully, one of the easiest things you can do, even for a legal blog that has been running for years.

Add a sitemap to your home page. Hide it in the footer, if you have to (we did). It does not have to be pretty (ours isn’t) because human readers will hardly ever go there. It does, however, have to list all of your legal blog posts.

Boom.

All of your legal blog posts have a link depth of 2.

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