Blogging has completely stirred up the situation on the internet. It has been something that people were getting used to during the 1990s, but as of 2000s, the online world completely changed due to the influence of blogging.
As more and more blogs started to emerge, so did the number of blogging tools. The approaches also began to evolve. We can trace the origin of blogging back to the online diaries published on the internet during the 1990s via dial-up internet. Over time, the topics of blogs started to expand. Personal blogs as a form of online diaries still exist, but many different types of blogs are now part of the blogosphere.
The number of blogs on the internet has been growing rapidly, as increasingly more people were gaining access to the internet and being able to create and manage their own blogs. Once creating a blog was an endeavor for which you would need to hire a professional, and you would also need training on how to manage and upload content. Nowadays, you can seamlessly create a blog within a few minutes without any technical skill whatsoever.
From the introduction of internet and the appearance of blogging to this day, a lot has changed.
Nowadays, blogging has become commonplace. It has become mainstream from the 2000s. Now people read blog posts every day. In fact, a large percentage of people own a blog (even if they do not have a habit of blogging regularly).
On the one side, we have the online community which has been relying so much on blogging as a source of information, entertainment, ideas, etc. People start following blogs they love and use them to keep up with the topic of their interest. They also interact with blog owners through comments.
Then, on the other side, we have companies. Most companies have one goal in common – reach online users. Due to the massive popularity of blogging and due to one particular search engine update by Google, called Panda (you can read more information on “Panda” later in this book), they have started to realize that blogging has to be taken to an entirely new level. Benefits of blogging are evident, but the craft (or better yet, art) of blogging is what evolved so much over the past years, that companies are focusing a lot of their efforts creating and managing content marketing strategy through blogging.
Content and Panda update
To understand how we have gotten to this point, where blogging is an inseparable part of our lives, you need to learn about content and Google’s Panda update. These two have influenced blogging to become what we know today.
Content has been around from the beginning of the internet. It has been used to position a website for keywords that are relevant to that site. Numerous techniques have been used for this purpose. One of which included notorious, obsolete practice of keyword stuffing. The gap between a website and a blog was much broader. Brands and companies had their websites, while bloggers managed their blogs
The number of internet users have been rapidly increasing, and they were all looking for something on the internet. They were looking for information. To do this, people have been using search engines such as Google, Bing and Yahoo, where they would type a search query. These search queries would represent something, which these users have been interested in. Then, the relevant results would come out in the search engine result pages. These caused two things:
Firstly, companies have started to realize that they are unable to compete with blogging content, as they had too little content, making them less likely to appear in the search engine result pages. This is how blogging has become a part of the business world. Once reserved for journalists, writers and critics, blogging has moved into the business world at full speed. The result of this is still visible to this day. Almost any business wishing to succeed and build a respectable name, will try to do so through blogging.
The second thing that resulted from the rapid expansion of the internet is the fact that content has been starting to pile up. Search engines have been struggling to filter the results, as webmasters were using devious techniques and practices to boost their website to the top of the search results. In many cases search results have become very saturated with keyword stuffed content. The bad thing was that most of that content was actually junk. It was content written with the intention to trick search engines to believe that there is something relevant on that web page, when in reality there was not. It was only a scheme used to reach online users.
It was at this point (back in 2011) that Google rolled out its Panda Update. This was a search engine update that was designed to detect low-quality content pages and banish them from the search engine results pages (SERP). The goal was also to identify high-quality pages and award them with a good ranking. Being able to recognize the quality of the content allows Google to provide better user experience because this way search engine can show really relevant results that can, in fact, provide a meaningful response to a user query. This update has been evolving through the years, but what it ultimately changed is how we perceive website content and blogging in general.
While blogging has become an effective tool for reaching online users, with this update in mind, bloggers are now aware that only quality content can achieve this goal. Tactics such as “keyword stuffing” no longer work. In today’s world the emphasis is on quality content.
Knowing about the current situation on the market is very useful. Below please find some interesting results made by different studies. These studies illustrate the state of blogging and online marketing. It helps you understand the importance of blogging as a business tactic and how it can be integrated into an online business.
- Featuring a blog as a key part of your website will give you a 434% better chance of being ranked highly on search engines. (Tech Client)
- B2B marketers are much more likely to use blogging (75%) when compared to B2C marketers (61%). (Social Media Examiner)
- 65% of marketers plan to increase the use of blogging. (Social Media Examiner)
- Companies that published 16+ blog posts per month got almost 3.5X more traffic than companies that published 0-4 monthly posts. (HubSpot)
- Most bloggers (53%) are publishing at least weekly. (OrbitMedia)
- Most bloggers (64%) write for more than one blog. (OrbitMedia)
- The average word count of top ranked content in Google is between 1,140-1285 words (SearchMetrics)
- Over 409 million people view more than 22.2 billion pages each month. (WordPress)
- There are over 4 million blog posts written each day. (InternetLiveStats)
- 85% of B2B marketers contribute their increased success over the last year to content creation. (Content Marketing Institute)
- 52% of B2B marketers say that blogging is a tactic that will be most critical to the overall content marketing success in 2017. (Content Marketing Institute)
- Ninety-two percent of respondents said their organization views content as a business asset. (Content Marketing Institute)
- Most common ways to generate revenue through blogging is using display ads, affiliate marketing links and search ads. (Tech Client)
- There is a general increase in the use of promotion channels. Search, email, paid and influencer marketing are all up. Social media is still by far the most common method for getting the word out. 93% of bloggers share their content on social networks. (OrbitMedia)
- Small businesses with blogs generate 126% more leads. (Tech Client)
- Websites with blogs have 97% more indexed links. (Tech Client)
- After reading recommendations on a blog, 61% of U.S. online consumers made a purchase. (Content Marketing Institute)
- 43% of people admit to skimming blog posts. (HubSpot)
- Three out of four (76%) respondents use email marketing technology to manage content marketing efforts. Other digital content marketing technologies used include CMS, content collaboration/workflow software, marketing automation software, etc. (Content Marketing Institute)
The highlights that can be concluded from all of these statistics are the following:
- The number of blog posts published each day is enormous. Quality has become a necessity to get noticed and reach your audience through blog content.
- Blogging is more popular among B2B companies that among B2C businesses.
- Blogging regularly can significantly help you improve your business objectives.
- Blogging affects buying decisions.
As you continue with reading this blog, you will see even more benefits of blogging. You will see how this online marketing strategy is slowly becoming the number one method to reach and affect online users.
What Is Blogging?
What once began as a platform for sharing personal thoughts in online form has now grown into one of the essential and the most effective tools marketers use for online promotion. The way blogging has evolved over the past decade has blown everyone’s mind. During the last couple of years we have been witnessing thousands of blogs around the globe, both businesses, and personal, turning into very profitable activities. It’s safe to say, that blogging has become “big business”.
History of blogging
Today’s blogging started with something called weblog. The term was created by Jorn Barger in 1997, and it was used to describe a personal weblog, an online journal or a diary. It was primarily used by journalists and writers as a way to express themselves. To understand this need to share one’s thoughts this way, you have to realize that this was the time without forums and social networks, the time before Twitter and Facebook.
The term was shortened to blog by Peter Merholz in 1999, and this term is now used both as a noun (to describe an online platform that is used for blogging) and as a verb (to write or to have a blog).
Having a blog in that period meant that you had the technical know-how to create and set up that blog. Optimization of that blog was not something people gave much thought, because search engine algorithms were just getting started to index the web, and had yet to learn how to interpret online content.
The late 1990s were also the period when blogging started to take off. By 2004 blogging had become completely mainstream. This was largely fueled by the introduction of the well-known content management system called WordPress in 2003. WordPress is a free platform that makes blogging available to everyone. Even to people, who don’t have many technical skills. More and more people were starting a blog, and increasingly more were reading those blogs. This trend grew so rapidly over the next few years that we now have a new blog coming up each second.
What has affected this rapid expansion is the following:
- Creating a blog is now much simpler and cheaper than it used to be
- The number of people using the internet is continuously rising, so the online audience is increasing
- Blogging has been recognized as a desirable profession in the 21st century
- Plenty of opportunities for monetization of blogging
- A possibility to expand networking opportunities
- Blogging has become a supporting activity for both online and offline businesses
What is a blog?
A blog is a website or a web page that is regularly updated with new content. Content is displayed as blog articles or posts, which are usually shown in reverse chronological order, so the newest are visible first.
When blogging was still new in the online community, blogs were usually run by individuals or a small group. Apart from blogs run by individuals, today we also have joint blogging projects which gather multiple authors. Companies have recognized the importance of blogging as well, so many of them have been implementing blogging as a part of their website. Often companies either have employed a full-time blogger or a team of bloggers that are in charge of content creation and blog promotion.
Most blogs allow visitors to leave their comments and to share blog posts on social media. This is what mainly differentiates blog posts from static website pages. It is also one of the reasons why blogging is considered a type of social networking platform. It enables connection with the author and his or her audience. Blog posts provide that social aspect, which is also why they are such an important asset in engaging online visitors.
The blogosphere is the term coined to include all blogs and the way these blogs are interconnected. As blogging started to be adopted by the masses and the number of bloggers has gradually been increasing, bloggers began to see themselves as a part of a large community, which is how the term blogosphere was introduced in 2002. It is used to imply that all blogs are connected and comprise a community. This understanding of blogging being part of the blogosphere is another reason why blogging is considered a type of social network.
Unlike website owners, which are usually focused on the interaction between owner and visitors, and only during the last couple of year have been thinking in terms of social media, blogging has had a social aspect from the beginning. Bloggers interact with each other, they share each other’s content, they comment, they even have blogrolls (the list of blogs they read and recommend). In general, blogging is more focused on the individual level and on these individuals becoming members of the blogosphere.
Blog vs. website
It is essential to differentiate between a blog and a website as this is something most people find difficult to do. Perhaps the most confusing part is the fact, that both are used for publishing content. However, how this content is presented and the purpose it serves is what makes a distinction between the two.
Frequency of updates
The first significant distinction between a blog and a website is the frequency of updates. Blog content is regularly updated, which means that the pages (also called “blog posts”) are more dynamic than website pages. Blog updates can be published at shorter or longer intervals. For example, new blog posts can be published once or twice a week, or even a couple of times during the day. This depends on the type of blog and the author(s).
On the other hand, a website features static pages with content that can occasionally be altered, but it usually stays the same over an extended period.
When it comes to engagement level, website pages hardly generate any engagement. Their main purpose is to provide information, to present a particular concept, etc. This communication is considered a one-to-many type of communication, which means that a page is designed to show the same content to all of the visitors.
Blogs enable better connection between an author and the visitors. It does not matter if the interaction is done through subscribing to RSS, commenting on a blog post, or participating in a poll, the important thing is that blogs encourage this interaction and thus increase the engagement level. The benefits of engagement are numerous, starting from generating interest in your brand, to improving the credibility and online influence.
Search engine friendliness
Blogs are considered to be more search engine friendly due to several reasons.
Updates: Search engines love new content, and they keep returning new pages to index when they notice that there is a pattern of frequent updates. Google confirms that 15% of searches have never been searched before, which means that new content updates are always welcome. Updated content enable search engines to extend their database and find genuinely relevant content to show in the search engine result pages. New content is most often provided to the search engines through the use of blogging.
Traffic: Blog topics are much more diverse and provide a range of topics that can be presented as organic traffic results. For example, when there is a search query “how to optimize a blog post,” it is more likely that there will be a blog post relevant to this query than a website. The concept of blogging also provides an opportunity to publish content which includes related phrases, synonyms, or to coin different phrases related to that topic. In all, this offers a tremendous potential to grow the amount of organic traffic your blog receives on topics that leverage the use of keywords and relevant phrases, that would attract the audience interested in your brand.
Links: Another reason for blogs being considered search engine friendly is the link building potential of their blog’s content. Content of high quality in a blog post is more likely to generate interest and links from other websites or blogs (also called “backlinks”) than static web pages. Additionally, blog content usually contains a significant number of links, both internal and external, which makes discovering and indexing new content by search engines through this page much easier.
Types of blogs
Types of blogs can range as much as types of topics can.
There are a lot of blog types you can find online, but some of the most popular are the following:
The entire concept of blogging evolved from the personal blogs created in the 1990s. This content format is still something that persists to this day as one of the most popular blogging types you can find.
The idea with a personal blog is to share your experience and thoughts about a particular topic. Content is published by an individual, who may or may not be an expert on the topic but is certainly someone who has experience and opinions about it. A person could be earning money through this type of blogging, but this is not a general rule. For example, the person could approach blogging as a hobby.
A type of a personal blog can be one about playing the guitar or running. Another example would be a parenting blog featuring insights of a parent raising his/her child. There are lots of travel blogs run by individuals. As you can see, topics can be quite diverse.
Blogging for business has become a predominant type of blogs nowadays, and it includes two major concepts.
The business blog could be run by an individual blogger who works for a company and promotes this company through a blog. The second option is for a company to run a business blog and then include multiple writers who contribute with content for that company’s blog. In this case, they represent a team of bloggers who blog for the company.
A business blog is usually focused on a particular topic that is related to the company’s business strategy in some way. An example is a company that sells software to other companies and agencies. This company can create a blog about running a business, increasing sales, as well as how this particular software can be integrated into a business.
The idea with niche blogging is to focus on a single topic. This approach gives an opportunity to specialize in a specific topic and attract highly targeted visitors. When creating a niche blog, it is essential to choose a topic you are passionate about. A topic, which you know a lot about and which is related to your business (if blogging is a part of a business strategy).
Examples of niche blogs are food blogs, parenting blogs, tech blogs, teacher’s blogs, beauty blogs, etc. Different monetization tactics can be a part of this type of blogging.
The greatest advantage of niche blogging is tailored content to the specific target group with better conversion potential.
With this type of blog, the owner focuses blogging activity on an affiliate marketing strategy. This means that the goal is to recommend products or services through affiliate links, encourage visitors to click on these links, and eventually buy the products. This enables the blogger to earn commission without having to own products or services to sell. Product reviews are typically shared on this type of blog, but other content types such as lists, how-to guides and tutorials can also feature affiliate links.
To maximize the efficiency of an affiliate blog, it is recommended to create a niche affiliate blog. This means that you need to choose a topic to write about and then create an affiliate marketing strategy to combine with this blog and its topic. It is necessary to choose affiliate programs that include products related to the blog niche. One example could be a tennis blog, where you would promote gear for tennis players through affiliate links.
Knowing what blogging is and being aware of the types of blogs out there is helpful to explore the potential of blogging in your situation. Regardless if this is a hobby for you or a career you want to focus on, blogging offers many opportunities to reach online users. Blogging has been evolving throughout the years, and it will continue to do so in the future. This means that it is possible to discover even new opportunities to promote and get promoted in the online world through blogs.