The Commercial Value of Educational SEO


Once upon a time, we wrote a blog post that didn’t generate much attention.

It should have, because it was a good topic and our writer did a great job tackling the very serious matter of funny email sign-offs.

We did some digging, and decided to do two things that we know work for bolstering blog performance:

  1. We re-optimized the blog post using a Search Performance Brief.
  2. We created an infographic.

We were so excited to see the results — which, by the way, included loads more traffic, effortless backlinks and an organic traffic value that soared to $52.5K — that we wrote an email about it.

And that’s when it happened: A skeptic emailed us back. Here’s what this Negative Nathan (his name isn’t Nathan) had to say:

“Trouble is, there is obviously no commercial intent from anyone interested in services using that phrase. It just looks like you worked really hard to get clicks nobody wants. Where is the commercial value? … Secondly, value is what you get, not what you pay. Unless you tell me there was revenue associated then the blog is worth nothing. I believe this example to demo your services could be a shot towards the foot.”

Ouch. There’s a lot to unpack here, so let’s take this bit by bit.

Why Marketers Doubt the Value of Educational SEO Blogging

First: “There is obviously no commercial intent from anyone interested in services using that phrase.”

Really? No one who’s ever shopped for content marketing services has ever wondered how they can brush up their email copywriting? Somehow, I seriously question that notion.

Second: “It just looks like you worked really hard to get clicks nobody wants.”

We want those clicks. Because we know that they are valuable. Speaking of value:

Third: “Where is the commercial value?”

This person’s cynicism aside, this is a legitimate question. All content marketers should ask themselves, where is the commercial value in what I’m doing?

He’s right in that “value is what you get, not what you pay.” In this case, what we got was the attention of a future lead at a moment in time when they were looking for genuine help, not a sales pitch.

Which brings us to …

Fourth: “Unless you tell me there was revenue associated then the blog is worth nothing.”

As mentioned, we have actually spoken with leads who have visited that blog post. In the past year alone, 12 people from 4 companies that became leads viewed that particular blog post.

But the Brafton Blog is, obviously, so much more than a single post. The point of having a blog is never any single post; it’s the collective whole that underscores your expertise and presents you as an authority in your industry.

Beyond that individual blog post, in the past year, 514 people from 352 companies who became leads viewed our blog. Out of those, 40 of them are clients, and hundreds more are active leads.

Is it a specific blog post that’s converting them? No — it’s the whole of our marketing presence. A single asset like a blog post, or an email bragging about it, is just one item that contributes to your larger sales funnel.

Finding the Value in Your Business Blog

So, how does informational or educational SEO bring in commercial-intent leads?

This is a complex question, so let’s dive in. Here are 2 commercial justifications for educational SEO:

1. Your Future Customers Aren’t Always Shopping

This is the conundrum that our Negative Nathan can’t get past, and he’s not alone (so I really can’t blame him too much). It’s a common misconception in digital marketing, because it sounds logical at first: Commercial SEO brings in buyers; educational SEO brings in readers.

Here’s where that logic fails: No one is in shopping mode 100% of the time. There will be times when your current and future customers will be surfing the web with zero intention of spending money or making purchase decisions.

In those moments, you still want your brand to be on their mind. When a social media marketer wants to learn, for example, how to create killer social media content on their own, they will not be interested in Brafton’s social media services. But they would likely be interested in our Complete Guide to Social Media mega-resource or our blog post about social advertising benchmarks.

2. People Explore Websites Before They Make Decisions

It’s extremely rare for a person to convert as soon as they hit your website. Naturally, they’ll click around a little bit to make sure that you’re legitimate, and also that you know your stuff.

Brands need to be prepared for that exploration by ensuring their website has good UX, so visitors don’t get lost or frustrated. If they do, they’ll just leave your site.

Beyond good UX, you’ll also want to have something interesting for them to consume while they’re exploring, and that’s where content creation comes in. Having an educational or informational blog is the perfect opportunity to give your visitors good information that they can read on their own time and become more informed about your industry or your solutions.

When you’re able to give your current and future customers quality advice or helpful information — without the pressure to convert — you’re presenting your brand as a trusted organization that they can turn to for help.

Business blogging does take time and energy: It’s true. But I firmly believe that it’s worth it. People carry out so much of their lives online, that it really does make sense to have friendly, approachable content available for your target audience at any point in their buyer journey.

Sometimes, they’ll find your conversion landing page, and it’ll be the right place and the right time for them to convert. But in so many other instances, they’ll find your website and they’ll be ready to read something, but not talk to you.

We dive even deeper into this topic — you guessed it — on our blog. Check out these posts for more information:

Finally: “I believe this example to demo your services could be a shot towards the foot.”

I’m happy to report that our feet are just fine, sir.


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