Blogging may be an elder statesman when it comes to the formats content marketers have at their disposal, but that doesn’t mean the technique is ready to go the way of the dinosaur. In fact, CMI’s 2016 B2B Benchmarks, Budgets, and Trends report found that 81% of content marketers include blogging among their techniques.81% of content marketers include #blogging among their techniques via @cmicontent research Click To Tweet
But, as with any tactic, blogging has been impacted by many shifts in marketing best practices, consumer behaviors, and technological advances. What are the latest trends in blog creation and usage, and how do these shifts impact blogging’s role in your content marketing strategy?
Orbit Media’s second annual survey of 1,000 bloggers aimed to answer these questions. While Orbit Media co-founder Andy Crestodina’s own summary focuses on changes over the past year, the results also reveal some trends that gradually have been gaining momentum over a longer time. Below are some of the findings that we at CMI found to be particularly intriguing, along with some actions that we suggest to help you take full advantage of this powerful content marketing format.
Long-form posts are becoming the norm
Finding No. 1: A typical blog post is almost 900 words – 10% longer than in 2014.According to an @orbiteers survey, a typical blog post is almost 900 words – 10% longer than in 2014 Click To Tweet
Our perspective: Google continually tweaks its algorithm and its recommended best practices emphasize quality over quantity when it comes to getting your content to rank highly. But beyond search engine considerations is the fact that longer content is often more detailed content – and the greater the detail, the more likely it is to be able to address audience interests, provide useful information, and answer the questions readers may have when they arrive on your blog.
Our recommendation: Consider following Orbit Media’s recommendations on ideal lengths for various content formats: Search-optimized blog posts should be approximately 1,500 words. These best practices also are supported by the results of a study by serpIQ, which found that longer content ranks higher in Google search results than shorter content.
Image courtesy of Orbit Media
Frequency is increasing, but daily posts are still a struggle for some
Finding No. 2: While more bloggers reported publishing on a daily basis in 2015 compared to 2014, the majority of bloggers (two-thirds) are still publishing less often than daily but more often than monthly.
Our perspective: Marketers may believe they need to create more content, more often, to be more successful. But, in fact, the opposite often seems to be the case. As Joe Pulizzi has emphasized time and time again, the goal is not to create more content but to create enough content to influence a desired behavior.
Our recommendation: Not every business has the resources to publish new content on a daily basis, but that doesn’t mean it can’t make a similar impact if it publishes less frequently. But remember, consistency is key when it comes to building a successful content marketing program (so important, in fact, that we made it part of CMI’s definition of the discipline). So whether you publish every day, every week, or every month, make sure you deliver your content on a regular schedule on which your audience can rely.
Learn more: An editorial calendar is essential to maintaining a consistent schedule for your blog content. Here’s everything you need to build one.
Bloggers are realizing the power of collaboration
Finding No. 3: Guest blogging doesn’t seem to be declining in popularity though only 6% of bloggers publish the majority of their original content as guest posts.
Our perspective: As Andy’s analysis points out, most bloggers (64%) write for more than one blog; so even though the majority of their content lands on their own site, they recognize the benefits that guest posting offers to help them build authority and expand their audience beyond their own blog readers.
Our recommendation: In addition to the thought leadership benefits, guest blogging can help secure backlinks from influential and authoritative websites – a great way to raise your own blog’s search rankings. Getting guest posts published on top sites in your niche is not as difficult to accomplish as you might think (in fact, CMI is always looking for good contributors). Here’s a simple process for guest blogging that can help get you started.
Bloggers are marketing their marketing
Finding No. 4: Bloggers are increasing their use of promotion techniques that drive traffic to their posts – including paid promotions, the use of which increased by 93% over the past year.
Our perspective: Social media continues to be the most common promotional technique used by bloggers – 93% reported that they share their posts on social networks. But social isn’t the only promotion option that bloggers are leveraging. As the Orbit Media study shows, the use of SEO, email marketing, influencer outreach, and even paid promotional techniques all experienced a surge in popularity compared to 2014. This indicates that, while posting on social media remains one of the easiest ways to promote blog content (not to mention, it can be done for free), bloggers are realizing how important it is to take extra steps to get their writing into the hands of the target audience and help it stand apart from everything else competing for the audience’s attention.
Our recommendation: As Neil Patel reminds us, overlooking the importance of marketing your blog content is one of the top mistakes that can derail the success of your program. To ensure that your posts get seen and stand apart from your competition, try some of the non-obvious promotion tips recommended by Arnie Kuenn.
Images offer an oasis on a text-heavy landscape
Finding No. 5: Use of visual content formats – including images, lists, charts, embedded social media, and SlideShare decks – in blog posts is on the rise.
Our perspective: Adding visual content to your blog posts helps draw the eye and can help your audience engage with your content on a deeper level than with text alone – particularly for viewers who prefer to scan articles rather than read long blocks of text. In fact, studies have shown that your content can generate up to 94% more views if you add compelling visual elements and graphics.
Our recommendation: Creating unique, powerful visual content for your blog posts doesn’t need to be a prohibitively complex process – even if you don’t have a team of designers at the ready. Want some help? Give some of these visual content creation tools a try.
Did you find any of the results of Orbit Media’s survey to be surprising? What other techniques would you recommend to optimize the value of your blog content? Let us know in the comments.
Looking to score big points with your target audience? CMI’s 2016 Content Marketing Playbook has tips, insights, and ideas that can help increase your success with 24 of the top content marketing tactics.
Cover image by Joseph Kalinowski/Content Marketing Institute