In the last decade, blogs have become an integral part of our online culture and an important tool for businesses. Even with the introduction of social media channels such as Facebook, Twitter and Instagram, blogs remained a relevant tactic for businesses due to the measurable benefits they offer.
Blogs have a relatively short history. The first-ever blog is considered to be Links.net, created by student Justin Hall in 1994 (and still active today!). Yet the word blog wasn’t officially coined until 1999 by Programmer Peter Merholz (who shortened the term “Weblog” first said by Jorn Barger in 1997 to describe a log of his internet activity). In 1999 there were 23 blogs on the Internet. By 2011, that number jumped to 173 million. With the rise of services like Tumblr, WordPress, Squarespace, Medium and more there are no longer reliable statistics on exactly how many blogs there are in the world, but the current estimate is hundreds of millions.
In 2018, it has become essential – more than ever – that blogging and thought leadership play an important role in the business growth and perception of your brand. Here’s a breakdown of why:
Blogs are entirely under your control.
With many social media channels now embracing a pay-to-play model, blogs have become more important than ever to ensure online visibility. Working with a shared media channel such as Facebook means that any change in their processes could result in an increased cost to your business and a shift in strategy. We saw this happen in early January when Facebook changed their News Feed algorithm to favor content from friends and family over brand content – ultimately making it even more competitive to reach your audience. Establishing an owned channel like a blog and concentrating on driving traffic from numerous sources, such as PR, influencers and various shared media channels (Facebook, LinkedIn, Instagram, etc.), means you’re less at risk of having changes by these channels impact your business.
Blogs drive website traffic.
Companies who blog receive 97% more links to their website. Each blog post provides content that can be shared and helps to build authority among your audience. Your blog will also fuel SEO. Every time you write a blog post, it’s one more indexed page on your website, which means another opportunity to show up in search engines and drive traffic. Blogging also helps you generate an organic presence on social media, as you’re creating content that can be shared which helps to capture a new audience that may not be familiar with you yet.
Blogs drive long term results.
Every post you publish is a long-term asset that helps build brand awareness and promote your expertise, products and services. In fact, it’s possible for a singular post to see traffic grow steadily over time, which is called a compounding post. To maximize the chance of creating a compounding post, focus on articles that solve readers’ problems, are easy to scan and feature words like “how” and “why” in the title. Over time, you’ll be able to count on a predictable amount of traffic without as much investment in content creation as the work to generate it is already done.
Blogs showcase brand personality.
Blogging provides the opportunity to create an online personality and offer insight into your company values, philosophy, employees, and ideas – all of which can drive ROI. In fact, due to their personal nature, blogs have been rated as the 5th most trusted source for accurate online information. Studies show that people appreciate a genuine relationship to the brands with which they do business, with 63 percent claiming they would buy from an authentic brand over a brand that isn’t perceived as honest. Authenticity is often evaluated by a company’s communications tools, including (you guessed it!) their blog and social media channels.
While blogging is not a new concept for 2018, the level of opportunity it provides as well as the overall impact cannot be ignored when it comes to long-term marketing plans.