Does Blogging Even Matter in 2021?
For many years, blogging was seen as the be all and end all of online content. Blogging enabled businesses and brands to create a running series of articles on a wide variety of subjects. When paired with rudimentary search engine optimization (SEO), these blog posts often enhanced the ability to rank in search results.
Today, potential customers consume content on a wide variety of different platforms. The types of media have evolved as well, encompassing videos, custom graphics, podcasts, and much more.
All of these changes have made it more difficult for outdated blogging strategies to drive traffic, improve search rankings, and engage your audience. Many brands wonder if it is even worth investing time and energy on blogging.
In 2021, blogging is still a viable content and SEO marketing strategy. However, effectively leveraging your blog requires more thoughtfulness and effort than ever before.
Are You Blogging Wrong?
If you got started with digital marketing 10 or 15 years ago, your website was the focal point of your efforts. In addition to telling customers who you are and generating leads, you could post news-style updates via your blog. Some website platforms had blogging functionality built in, while others relied on a third-party solution like Google’s Blogspot.
To put it charitably, the bad old days of blogging were a mess. Individuals and business owners would push out a high volume of low-quality content, stuff their blogs with keywords, perform little to no optimization, and jump on any trending topic regardless of their experience or the value they could provide.
For a time, such haphazard strategies did seem to improve SEO. Many businesses glommed on to the old adage “content is king.” Most took it to mean that if they pushed out enough content, they would get results.
Eventually, Google and other search engines got wise to this trend. They noted the low quality of results consumers were seeing and took steps to rectify the situation. One of the most decisive moves was the Google Panda update, which cracked down on strategies like keyword stuffing that enabled low-quality content to dominate the top of the SERPs.
The original Google Panda update was unleashed 10 years ago. Somehow, though, some businesses and marketing agencies are still implementing these decade(s)-old content strategies – often to diminishing returns.
As a result of both the diminishing returns and the plethora of newfangled options for creating and delivering content, many brands have begun moving away from blogging as a cornerstone of their search marketing strategy. Such a decision is understandable, but abandoning your blog entirely is a mistake.
Why Blogging Still Matters
Blogging is still a very important marketing strategy in 2021. To achieve results, however, you need to up your game.
Adam Rowan, Content Manager at Twelve Three Media, recently summed up the key points of a blog strategy that actually improves SEO: “Blog posts need to be informative, thorough, and fully address the users’ needs.”
Here are the key components of effective blogging for SEO:
1. Focus on Long-Tail Keywords
Long-tail keywords are the more specific search queries consumers use to gather detailed information on a topic of interest. They are more limited in scope than high-level keywords, often written as phrases or questions in search of a particular answer.
For example, a law firm may target the high-level keyword “Denver car accident lawyer.” Multiple long-tail keywords can support this primary keyword, including “what can a car accident lawyer do for me?”, “why do I need a car accident lawyer?”, etc.
The best way to integrate long-tail keywords into your blogging strategy is to use each search query or phrase as the title of a blog post. Check out the current search results for the long-tail keyword, then create content that answers the question or addresses the topic better than the top-ranking items.
2. Inject Your Expertise
Authority is what separates quality blog posts that rank from the many subpar entries that fail to garner clicks and readers. Google prioritizes delivering the best information to its users. Although “the best” is a vague term, we can assume that it includes content meeting the following criteria:
- Accurately conveys the facts related to a user’s search
- Provides an original answer (i.e., the content is not simply a rehash of information available elsewhere online AND it is not a direct copy of content from another website (duplicate content))
- Demonstrates expertise or knowledge beyond that of a layperson
Many business owners and agencies alike are able to handle the first two elements of blogging with ease but find the third aspect elusive. This last part of blogging, however, is where the magic happens.
Anyone can write a blog post consisting of basic, commonplace information (or hire a writer or agency to do it for them). Content that resonates with readers and provides value in the eyes of search engines gives any brand an edge.
Collaboration is key for harnessing the power of expertise. You may need to interview knowledgeable employees, stakeholders, and/or the founder(s) of your business to get authoritative insights. If you hire an agency to handle your content, it is best to connect the writer with the principal(s) to ensure that your blog posts get the requisite “expert touch.”
3. Emphasize Quality
Everyone has different levels of experience and comfort with writing. For many business owners and in-house marketers, sitting down and typing out an article for a blog is a daunting task. After the post is written, it is essential to ensure that the content flows well, is grammatically correct, and is written in terms that your customers can appreciate.
There is no shame in admitting that you are not a writer. Agencies and freelancers make their living writing and editing blog content for both quality and SEO. In many cases, it is necessary to partner with an agency to help you create content for your blog.
Readers know the difference between poor-quality content and content that is well-written and engaging. Considering the important role blogging plays in other aspects of your digital marketing (such as promoting your brand on social media), it is important to work with people inside your organization or an outside provider to ensure that each article is up to snuff.
4. Be Thoughtful About Topics
One of the biggest mistakes with a blog is to treat it like a repository for any and every idea that comes to mind. Every single blog post you write should have a clear focus, a consistent tone, and – perhaps most importantly – support your brand messaging.
Your blog should be an official, informative channel that puts your business in the best light, not a diary or digital musings column. This thoughtful approach begins with careful selection of topics.
As you get serious about blogging, you should be able to create a content calendar that outlines your topics over several months. Sticking to a schedule is enormously helpful for budgeting time to write, edit, optimize, and incorporate the expertise in your organization while consistently delivering a steady stream of quality content.
Today more than ever, content is about quality, NOT quantity. Publishing one or two excellent blog posts a month is vastly preferable to writing six or eight mediocre pieces.
5. Dive Into the Data
Once your blog strategy is underway, you might eventually run into a wall where you feel like you can’t come up with any more topics. Fortunately, the performance of your website can help you identify new opportunities for blogging.
A combination of free (ex: AnswerThePublic) and paid (ex: SEMRush) SEO tools can help you drill down into keywords, search queries, and the content on your website to develop new ideas for topics to cover on your blog. The big advantage of this data-driven approach is that you can see what consumers are actually asking; if you haven’t covered it yet, these tools can help you come up with any number of great new blog topics.
You should also see what pages on your website are getting the most traffic, especially from organic search results. Trends in website visitors can help you see where users on your site are going and how they get there. You can leverage your blog to nurture these incoming visitors or focus your blogging on other areas to support other parts of your business that aren’t getting the traffic and leads you want.
Analytics and reporting represent one of the most complex areas of digital marketing. Many business owners find it helpful to work with an experienced agency to help them understand the reports and put them to good use.
Start Building Your Blog Strategy Today
Is blogging worth it in 2021? Absolutely! What’s different is the kind and amount of work businesses and agencies have to do to maximize the value of blogs.
Today, the brands that approach SEO right know the importance of quality, authenticity, and data-driven purpose in every piece of content – blogs included. If your business is struggling with the demanding and technical nature of today’s content marketing, it may be time to call in the experts.
The copywriters and content managers at Twelve Three Media are second to none. From topic generation to writing to editing to optimizing for search, we take immense pride in each step of the content creation process for our clients. Contact Twelve Three Media to learn how our team can boost your blog!