Read Content Marketing blogs and you’ll see that social media and video are the most important content marketing trends this year, and perhaps they are right. After all, we are in the age of mobile technology which, let’s face it, lends itself well to social media and video content types.
However, there’s one strategy that has proven to stand the test of time and should therefore remain a priority in your marketing budget.
The single most effective content marketing strategy is,
wait for it..
Don’t believe me? Read on.
A bit of Content Marketing history
The concept of Content Marketing has been around for decades. Content Marketing Institute traces 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 90s when Content Marketing took the digital form--when websites started to proliferate the world wide web and marketers used direct emailing to advertise their businesses.
It was in 1994 when 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”.
Later on, blogs have become an integral part of Content Marketing and SEO.
A bit of SEO backgrounder
Search Engine Optimization’s early beginnings can be traced back to the 90s as well, when search engines started to proliferate the web.
Yes, there are quite a number of search engines in the 90s. However, it was in 1996 when Google debuted and, about half-a-decade later, completely changed the way information is searched and sorted out in the web.
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 (NOT the Arctic creatures, just thought I'd say), 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 SEO, the greater your visibility in search.
Constantly changing Content Marketing trends
This year, many Content Marketers are exploring new creative ways to do content. Some of the emerging Content Marketing trends include informational video content, ephemeral video content (the likes of Snapchat) and easy-to-digest mobile content.
In the recent years, we’ve seen Content Marketing trends shift according to the following factors.
- Technological innovations -- the introduction of new technology and applications. For example: InstaStories and Snapchat didn’t exist 5 years ago.
- Consumer behaviour -- the various ways that people use the internet, socialize online, and consume content. Consumers have more power than ever to choose the type of content that meet their taste and requirements, and as marketers we want to give them the information they need the moment they need it.
- Google algorithm -- the changes in the way Google sorts out content to ensure quality search results. Search engines is still the number one source of website traffic with over 6 billion of searches a day worldwide, and of this number, almost 70% use Google.
And yet, through all these years of evolving trends, blogging has remained staple.
Even with the massive influx of blog content in the past year, blogging is still the number one tactic that is perceived to be crucial this 2017. This is evident both in CMI’s 2017 B2B Content Marketing Benchmarkmark Report, and Hubspot’s 2017 State of Inbound.
Top Content Marketers and Inbound Marketers bet on blogging and will continue to create more blog content this year and beyond.
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 both in time and in money.
Short-form content like 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, on the other hand, also requires a lot of time and creativity and usually don’t give you immediate results. The long-term gains of blogging, however, are guaranteed.
Blogging has outlasted Content Marketing trends and algorithmic changes
..and I have no doubts that blogging will remain relevant for years to come.
These are the reasons why:
1. Blogging is your best SEO weapon.
Back in mid-2000s, SEO Professionals already 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 3 important Google ranking factors: keywords, social signals, links.
Through your blog, you’re able to introduce relevant keywords onto the pages of your site.
With your blog content, you have something to share on social media and to build up your credibility as an industry leader.
By being a blogger, you’re able to reach out to influencers, build relationships, and earn links.
It’s no surprise that blogging has stood the test of algorithm changes, sans those schemy SEO tricks you used to implement on your blog. With a well-thought and a consistent content marketing strategy, Google continues to cache your pages and increase your website’s visibility.
2. Blogging builds your authority as a thought leader and credibility as a service provider.
Let’s say you’re an “SEO Service provider” or a “Content Marketing agency” but you don’t really rank well for those money-making keywords. However, your top queries are most likely branded keywords; meaning, you rank really well for keywords that have your brand name.
Example: For us, as a company offering digital marketing in Nottingham, UK, Philippines, and the USA, it’s no brainer to rank and gain traffic from the following brand keywords, especially since “Spiralytics” is such a unique brand:
- Spiralytics, Inc
- Spiralytics UK
- Spiralytics careers
- Spiralytics blog
This only means one thing-- people are already looking for our brand.
This must be true for your business as well. When people search for brand keywords, it can be assumed that they’re already researching about your brand.
Sometimes, people hear 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, what they find on your pages will make or break your brand’s credibility.
A blog usually serves as 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.
3. Blog content is a gateway to your sales funnel.
When a visitor lands on your blog and finds your content relevant but still not sure if he’s ready to purchase your product or business, there’s a good chance that he would 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, these leads may just be your next customers.
4. 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 fanpages, 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 in those pages are totally beyond your control. With your hosted blog, you get to keep your arsenal of content available and accessible for as long as your business exists.
How to win at blogging
1. Clarity, commitment, consistency.
We talked about this thoroughly in this post. The only way your blog content strategy will stand out this 2017 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.
2. Support your blog content with other content types.
As I have just discussed, video content and social media content is pretty big this year. These content types will most likely give you immediate results which, if combined with blog content, will give you a more solid content strategy.
3. Integrate your blog to your sales funnel.
With blog content, you don’t just want your website traffic to increase, you want blog readers to become leads. One way to do this is to create more advanced content that you can “gate”.
Gated content only means premium white papers, articles or videos that require users to fill out a form before they can access them for free. These are proven effective ways to get people to give you information in exchange for your content.
Regardless of the industry, blogging has proven 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.