If there’s one single content marketing strategy that has proven to stand the test of time and should, therefore, remain a priority in your marketing budget, it’s none other than blogging.
Don’t believe me? Read on.
A Bit of Background on Content and SEO
The concept of content marketing has been around for decades. Content Marketing Institute traced this discipline to as far back as 1732 when Benjamin Franklin first published the Poor Richard’s Almanack to promote his printing business.
However, it wasn’t until the 1990s when content marketing took the digital form as websites started to proliferate the world wide web, and marketers used direct emailing to advertise their businesses.
Then in 1994, the first ever blog was launched, credited to a certain Swarthmore College student named Justin Hall who created the site Links.net.
In 1997, John Barger coined the term “webblog” and in 1999, Peter Merholz truncated the term to just “blog”.
Around that time, website owners started to figure out how to get more exposure in search engines. Alas, the rise of SEO professionals beginning year 2000.
Google algorithms have changed a lot over time, and as we entered the Penguin and Panda era, we learned that pages are ranked according to relevance and quality.
It’s certainly no secret that a website’s relevance and quality have always revolved around content.
How good your content is determines how people perceive your website’s authority, shareability, and therefore, search visibility. The more authority sites link back to you and the more people talk about your content in social media, coupled with a good grasp and proper implementation of, the greater your visibility in search.
Constantly Changing Content Marketing Trends
First, some trivia: Did you know that each month, roughly 409 million people view more than 20 billion pages on the web?
No wonder, many content marketers have been exploring new, creative ways to do content. Some of the emerging include informational video content, ephemeral video content (the likes of Snapchat), and easy-to-digest mobile content.
In recent years, we’ve seen content marketing trends shift because of the following factors.
- Technological innovations—The introduction of new technology and applications, such as InstaStories and Snapchat that didn’t exist several years back, spurred the growth of new-day content marketing.
- Consumer behavior—This refers to the various ways that people use the internet, socialize online, and consume content. Consumers have more power than ever to choose the types of content that meet their preferences and requirements. As marketers we want to give them the information they need the moment they need it.
- Google algorithms—These are changes in the way Google sorts out content to ensure quality search results. Search engines are still the no. 1 source of website traffic with estimates saying there are about 6 billion searches a day worldwide. Among searchers, an overwhelming 92% use Google.
And yet, amidst evolving trends, blogging has remained a staple. This complete list of blogging statistics will surely have you convinced.
So for 2020, you can expect content marketers and inbound marketers to bet on their blogging strategy and continue to publish more content via this channel.
Investing in Blog Content Has Long-Term Gains
There are important differences between blogging and other types of content.
- Video content stays relevant for a significant period of time, but it usually requires more investment to create. Unless video content is important to your industry or business model, creating videos is quite an investment in both in time and in money.
- Ephemeral video content like on Snapchat and InstaStories, meanwhile, is still widely an experiment. While these short-lived videos are great ways to humanize your brand and may be effective to very specific industries, video clips only last 24 hours.
- Visual content (still images) is also a totally different beast. Unless you’re a photographer or a creative professional, this type of content is not really as effective as text content when it comes to ranking in search engines and building up credibility.
Blog content may also require a lot of time and creativity and usually doesn’t give you immediate results. However, the long-term gains of blogging in terms of brand awareness, lead generation, and conversions are guaranteed.
Blogging has outlasted content marketing trends and algorithmic changes, and I cannot overemphasize that it will remain relevant for years to come.
Why Blogging Will Remain Relevant
Blogging is your best SEO weapon.
Back in the mid-2000s, SEO professionals started to use blogging to improve search engine rankings.
Today, business blogging is more important than ever in terms of SEO. This is because blogging, when done right, accomplishes three important Google ranking factors: keywords, social signals, and links.
Through your blog, you’re able to introduce relevant keywords onto the pages of your site. Then with your blog content, you have something to share on social media and to build up your credibility as an industry leader. Last but not least, by being a blogger, you’re able to reach out to influencers, build relationships, and earn links.
Needless to say, schemy SEO tricks won’t do your blog any good. What you need is a well-thought out and consistent blogging strategy, so that Google will continue to crawl your pages and increase your website’s visibility.
Blogging builds your authority as a thought leader and credibility as a service provider.
Let’s say you’re trying to rank for the keywords “SEO service provider” or “content marketing agency” but you’re not really performing well as much as you want. Your top queries will most likely be branded keywords—meaning, you rank really well, but only for keywords that have your brand name.
When people search for brand keywords, it can be assumed that they’re already looking for your brand. Sometimes, people hear about your brand through word-of-mouth or through the referrals of previous or existing clients. Sometimes, they chance upon your blog content through social media.
When people come to your website with a background knowledge of your company and they find quality blog content on your pages, then you’re already getting the job done as far as your brand’s credibility is concerned.
A blog serves as a portfolio, more specifically for B2B companies, who offer a highly specialized product or service. A regularly updated blog, with content that is relevant to a specific business or industry, will give potential customers a good impression of your brand.
Blog content is a gateway to your sales funnel.
When a visitor lands on your blog and finds your content relevant, but still isn’t sure if they’re ready to purchase your product or service, there’s a good chance that they’ll subscribe to your blog instead.
Every email address that gets added to your contact list enters your marketing funnel. With the right lead nurturing strategy, you can drive these leads towards becoming future customers.
Blog content stays within your website; therefore you have control over it for years to come.
Remember Friendster? How about Multiply? Remember all the hours you invested creating content for your Friendster and Multiply accounts and how all of that disappeared?
How about when Facebook started limiting feed exposure to fan pages, forcing you to pay to boost your content?
Social media is a good place to connect with people and promote content, and sometimes social media pages rank in search engines too. However, what happens on those pages is totally beyond your control.
With your own hosted blog, you get to keep your arsenal of content available and accessible for as long as your business exists, not to mention you can always update your older posts or repurpose them to make your blog a steady source of information for content consumers.
How to Win at Blogging
Follow the 3Cs: Clarity, commitment, consistency
We talked about this thoroughly in this post. The only way your blog content strategy will stand out this 2020 is if you are very clear with what you want to achieve with your blog and how to get there, if you’re committed to your strategy, and if you are consistent in your process.
This, or don’t blog at all as Joe Pulizzi suggests. This is the only way to win at blogging.
Know your audience.
Once you’ve decided to use blogging as a marketing strategy, make sure that you know who you’re blogging for. When you have a clear idea of your target audience, it will be easier for you to create relevant content for them, so it’s also important that you’re aware what their challenges, questions, or problems are.
Support your blog content with other content types.
As I’ve just discussed, video content and social media content are pretty big these days. These content types will most likely give you immediate results which, if combined with compelling and valuable blog content, will give you a more solid content strategy.
Integrate your blog into your sales funnel.
With blog content, you don’t just want your website traffic to increase, but you also want blog readers to become leads. One way to do this is to create more advanced content that you can “gate”.
Gated content refers to premium white papers, articles, or videos that require users to fill out a form before they can access them for free. These are proven ways to get people to give you information in exchange for your content.
Don’t forget your CTA.
Whatever marketing goal you’re looking to achieve through your blog, you’ll need to place a call-to-action (CTA) at the end of every post.
After reading your blog, you want your readers to take action: create an account, download your mobile app, share your content, sign up for your email alerts, make an actual purchase, or so on. But before any of these could happen, you may have to give your audience a little push. With the right kind of messaging—one that clearly tells your visitors what value they’re getting from taking action—it won’t be that hard for you to persuade your readers to click on your CTA.
Regardless of your industry, blogging does offer your business effective organic benefits. It's up to you to create and implement a blog strategy that will work for your business, and to commit to it.