When done properly, blogging is a powerful way for businesses and individuals to connect with customers. But with billions of blogs online today, just what does it take to get your blog noticed? And is blogging even still relevant in 2021?
Do people still read blogs in 2021?
According to a recent survey conducted by marketing research firm Lucid for Hubspot, 60% of internet users read blogs to some degree.
40% of Internet users never read blogs.However, depending on the exact wording of the survey (which we were unable to obtain), the data may be skewed.
After all, a majority of internet users may not even realize Google has directed them to a blog in search of an answer to their question. A perhaps more useful statistic comes from Demand Metric, who found that 80% of people enjoy learning about companies through custom content—including blogs.
Businesses rely on blog traffic
For many individuals and businesses, the point of a blog is to generate revenue by increasing visibility and engagement. But if we are unsure if people are actually reading blogs, it’s hard to make a convincing argument for why you should spend time on yours.
We took a different approach to this issue. Let’s forget how many internet users are reading blogs, a question that’s somewhat imprecise and superficial. A more important question is: how does having a blog contribute to the success of a website or business?
To answer this question, we looked at some of the top-performing SMBs and enterprises on the web and what their highest-ranking pages were.
While the page with the highest traffic is, of course, the website itself, the next four highest-traffic pages come from—drumroll please…its blog.
Let’s look at another: Habit Nest won Amazon’s award in the category of Small Business Owners Under 30. Besides the homepage, three of the four highest-traffic pages are from the company’s blog.
These are exceptional—though not rare—examples. We found that, among websites we reviewed, at least 3 of the top 15 pages tended to be blog articles.
If you look at enterprises, the trend is much the same. Half of the top 200 Fortune 500 companies have an active blog.
Overall, businesses with blogs generate about 67% more leads per month than those without.
Google reads blogs, too
Finally, it’s important to remember that Google’s web crawler reads blogs, too. It looks at factors like: how many other trustworthy sources are linking to this domain? How much valuable content is associated with this domain? How long are people staying on this website? How old are most of the pages?
In fact, blogs can increase indexed pages by 434% and indexed links by 97%. That generally translates to higher page ranking, more user engagement, and greater conversion.
Bottom line, blogs are an important opportunity to demonstrate both to Google and to your customers that you are knowledgeable, trustworthy, and more than just a faceless corporation.
The mistakes many people make with their blogs
There are more than 1.5 billion blogs on the internet today, and there’s only so much room at the top. Unfortunately, many bloggers and businesses are focusing on the wrong things.
Here are a few key mistakes people make with their blog strategies.
Writing too much, at the expense of everything else
Without content, your blog wouldn’t exist. However, the most successful personal and business blogs in the world aren’t those that put out the most content. Quality and visibility are much more important.
If your content plan calls for a huge number of articles per month, you’d better make sure you have enough quality writers to produce them. Otherwise, readers will quickly come to realize there’s no real substance to your feed.
Many bloggers also mistake quantity for visibility, hoping that if they get enough words on the internet, people will take notice. Unfortunately, that’s not how it works. As you’ll see below, good SEO and marketing takes time, and this aspect deserves your focus too.
Relying solely on SEO
Organic search traffic is certainly an important element of growth. Perhaps the most important element—but it’s not the only one.
Algorithms change — quite regularly, actually. Your blog needs to be able to survive these changes by diversifying how readers find it. This means increasing traffic through (cross) promotion, social media, and guest blogging, all of which we explore in greater detail below.
Misunderstanding the point of your blog
For most people and all businesses, the point of a blog is to generate leads and boost conversion. However, many common key performance indicators (KPIs) actually correlate poorly with this objective.
For example, unless you generate revenue by selling ad banners, overall traffic is a poor KPI. So are the number of pages you publish each month or new email subscribers each month.
What’s a better goal? Ahrefs Academy sums it up this way: Your blog is a customer acquisition channel, not a traffic acquisition channel. Unless you’re selling banner ads, the only KPI that should matter to you is the number of orders or sales per month.
Remember, 5% conversion on 500 visitors—25—is better than 1% conversion on 1000 visitors—10.
9 ways to get your blog noticed
1. Keyword research
90% of pages on the Internet receive no traffic from Google, which means a lot of people are producing content that people will never find.
Without doing keyword research, it’s surprisingly difficult to know what interests your audience and how they try to find it. And, of course, people’s interests change all the time.
Keyword research is an important starting point for writing top-ranking SEO articles. Done properly, keyword research gives you valuable insights into what your readers or customers are looking for, what they associate your subject or product with, and what new topics are trending.
What to do: Start by making a list of topics that are relevant to your business. For each topic, brainstorm subtopics or questions users might ask (how to and what is questions, for example). You can use SEO tools like Ahrefs or Moz to determine how popular each topic or subtopic is and which will be easiest to rank for. Find out what keywords your competitors are ranking for too, and check out Google’s “people also searched for” section for inspiration.
2. Write great content
According to a report by market research firm NewsCred, users spend just 37 seconds on average reading a blog post. In other words, just long enough to skim the headlines, read a few choice sentences, and decide whether it’s worth their time.
Keeping people on your page is not just important for SEO. It also increases the likelihood of a reader sharing your article on social media, and, for businesses, it correlates with conversion.
People gravitate to well-written articles that show depth and mastery of a given topic, and longer content does better on search engine result pages (SERPs) because Google knows it’s more likely to provide answers.
What to do: The skyscraper technique is one of the easiest and surest ways to make sure your content is better than everybody else’s. It goes as follows:
Find the top-ranking pages for your search term—and improve upon them. You can also check out top-performing blogs for your industry.
Make your page: longer or more thorough (go from “50 best…” to “100 best…”); more up-to-date; easier to navigate, read or understand (using on-page assets, clear headings and subheadings, etc). Compare your article to the top-ranking pages and make sure your article is better in every way.
Be warned, though. It takes experience and talent to produce truly exceptional content that demonstrates knowledge and authority and is still enjoyable to read. If you’re not up to the task yourself, a professional writing service can be an excellent investment. Just be sure to avoid content mills and cheap writers, which come with serious limitations.
Further reading: Backlink.io
3. No blog is an island
As mentioned above, backlinks and shares improve your ranking, but they also ensure you have multiple acquisition streams beyond Google.
Sending notifications about new content to email subscribers, social followers, and regular readers is a good way to keep your readers engaged, but it doesn’t help you reach new audiences. Facebook groups and forums are also subject to the law of diminishing returns. Eventually, you’ll stop acquiring new readers.
Word of mouth, in the form of new backlinks and shares, is the only sustainable way to continue expanding your readership. This can happen passively, as people share your content or link back to your domain because they think it will interest their own readers or followers, or actively, as you seek out new communities and partnerships.
What to do: Make sure that you’re part of the online discussion related to your topic: comment on other blogs and write guest posts (see section 4), and drop links to your relevant content in forums and on social media. This only works if you have great, share-worthy content, so be sure to get sections 1, 2, and 6 down pat.
4. Guest blogging
Guest blogging is when you write an article for another website or blog, and it’s a great way to boost readership. It’s a highly effective form of active acquisition, as your name and blog will now be exposed to a whole new audience—one which has already demonstrated interest in your subject.
What to do: In order to effectively guest blog, you need to accomplish two things: find blogs in your subject area and convince them to let you write a post.
There are a few good tricks for finding blogs. Try entering inurl:"write for us" + your subject into Google. Plenty of top-level blogs, ezines, and other publications have a Write For Us page that describes what they’re looking for. Try your subject + “guest post by” to find blogs that have previously received guest authors. You can also head on over to Detailed.com for a list of industry-leading blogs, or simply google top blogs in your subject.
Once you have a list of blogs you’re interested in writing for, you’ll need to pitch to them. One good trick is to check for category pages or #tags that haven’t seen any new content recently, and offer to write an article to remedy this.
It also helps to build up a relationship: comment regularly, link to their site when appropriate, and engage with the author(s) outside the blogging sphere. If you can provide past articles that match their style and demonstrate your expertise as well, all the better.
Be sure to promote your guest posts through your regular marketing avenues and, of course, include links back to your own site in your content.
5. Influencer marketing
Influencers, like those on Instagram and TikTok, can reach tens, even hundreds of thousands of individuals with a single post. Research has also shown that people trust influencers more than traditional ad campaigns.
Influencer marketing is more appropriate for some subjects than others, but it can help increase the impact of a particularly important article or series.
What to do: Find influencers related to your subject, either on your own using hashtags on platforms like Instagram and TikTok, or via a marketing platform like Upfluence or Brandbassador. You’ll need to negotiate remuneration and decide whether this is worth your while.
Further reading: Bluehost
6. Get involved with the press
Another great approach is to make yourself available to the press. Google gives great importance to backlinks from trusted and reputable news sites, and they have impressive readerships that you can leverage.
In both Google’s eyes and those of your current and prospective readers, endorsement from reputable news publications boosts your trustworthiness and demonstrates your utility in the field.
What to do: Watch for news stories that relate to your topic, product, or business, then reach out to local or online news outlets and ask if you can be of some assistance. Set up a Google Alert so you know straight away when a story breaks that relates to your blog, then send out emails to news outlets that haven’t yet covered the story, letting them know you’d be happy to do an interview or provide information for an easy, well-researched story.
7. Invest in on-page assets to boost shareability
On top of great content, you’ll also want to invest in some important on-page assets, like pictures, videos, charts, and infographics. As goes the old adage, “a picture’s worth a thousand words.”
More concretely, research from content discovery platform BuzzSumo shows that blog posts with an image every 75-100 words get shared almost twice as much as any other range. Relevant images help people to more rapidly identify topics of interest and understand what’s being said. Visual aids like the chart below provide readers with an immediately comprehensible snippet of the conversation that can be shared in an instant.
What to do: Go through past posts and look for opportunities to add visuals—and be sure to update or change the publication date, so Google knows you’ve added useful new content. When writing new posts, divide the final word count by 750 and aim for about that many images or visuals. Make statistics stand out with graphs, and condense or summarize text with infographics.
By tweaking your on-page code, you can also help social media networks like Twitter to better display the image and content that you want. For example, adding this code to the top of your blog posts ensures that Twitter can correctly generate a “Summary Card with Large Image,” which receives four times as many shares as any other kind of tweet.
Further reading: Neil Patel
8. Social Media
Knowing how to promote your blog on social media is an important skill, and, as you might imagine, it goes far beyond simply posting your most recent blog post to your Facebook and Twitter feeds.
What to do: First, timing matters. Neil Patel, one of the most prolific writers on the subject of SEO and a highly respected author, created the following helpful schedule for promoting your blog. Rather than reposting the same content, use each post as an opportunity to highlight a different aspect or angle.
Similarly, don’t just post on your own profiles. Engage in conversations online, and when you feel like your article would add something of substance, that’s a perfect time to drop a link.
Finally, don’t spread yourself too thin. You don’t need to be posting on every social media site on the internet, and that won’t help you reach your goals. Focus on a few key platforms, especially those where your key audience is most active, and look for the best opportunities to share your content.
9. Write a title and meta description that stand out
Among other technical SEO factors to keep in mind, be sure you create titles and meta descriptions that stand out. Remember, you have about 65 characters for the title before Google truncates it, and about 155 characters for the meta description, so make them count.
If you make it to the first page of Google, you have a good chance of being noticed with an outstanding title and meta description, even if you’re in position 10.
What to do: Don’t be afraid to visit other popular blogs for inspiration (titles, headings, and the meta description can all play into building your skyscraper). Check out a headliner analyzer like this one to get direction on how to improve your efforts.
Figuring out how to get your blog noticed is no easy task, which is why so many businesses opt to outsource both content creation and marketing.
If you’re up to the challenge yourself, the above tips are a good place to start. Just bear in mind that growing your own blog can be time-consuming and often frustrating.