At first, blogging was a way for people to say what they thought about a particular topic and let other people read what they had to say. Blog posts were usually short written thoughts, like “brain dumps,” as opposed to traditional articles that were researched and written after a lot of work. A blogger could sit at their computer and type whatever came to mind.
As Google’s search engine became more popular, marketers realized that the more content search engine robots could find and index, the more likely potential customers would find them. The more traffic your website got was directly related to how high up in the search engine results you could get your content. Blogs were the easiest way to make a lot of content quickly. All of a sudden, companies of all sizes started blogs.
A list made by Jesse James Garrett shows that there were 23 blogs on the internet in 1999. Technorati’s State of the Blogosphere report says that there were 50 million blogs by the middle of 2006. Today, it’s likely well over 200 million.
Golden Days for Blogs
Marketers quickly discovered that blogs didn’t have to be very good to do well in Google. They learned that Google’s search algorithm ranked content based on metrics related to and revolving around specific keywords. If you put the right keywords in the correct meta tags and used them in your blog post, you had a good chance of ranking high in the search results for those keywords. The algorithm looked at other things, like links, headers, etc., but using keywords and where they were placed in the content seemed to be the most important.
So, marketers started pumping out blog posts full of their target keywords and optimizing for them. Most of these posts were miswritten (usually by people who lived abroad and didn’t speak English as their first language), and no semi-educated person would spend more than 10 seconds trying to read them. Quite a few of these posts were even made by computers.
But even though they were useless to people, search engines loved them and moved them up in their rankings. Content farms started popping up, and their only goal was to make posts that were optimized and precisely what search engines were looking for. It was as if all the Oscars went to stupid cat videos. There was something very wrong.
What Went Wrong With Blogging
After a few years, Google’s search experts finally figured out what was happening and decided to take action. They knew that Google would only be successful if it gave people the necessary answers and information. And people looking for knowledge didn’t want machine-generated, uber-optimized gibberish that made no sense.
So Google started making significant changes to its search algorithm. These changes were called Panda, Penguin, Pigeon, and Possum, after cute animals. The goal of these changes was to reward relevant and helpful content and punish the useless stuff. Millions of sites lost their search rankings in what seemed like an instant. Many eCommerce sites that relied on the traffic sent by Google because their content wasn’t excellent (it was highly optimized) but ranked well were put out of business.
The days of content farms and low-quality search engine bait were over after a great run made a lot of money.
Blogs as we knew them were gone.
Rise of 'Content'
Google’s attempts to improve the quality of its search results gave blogging a new lease on life differently. Google seems now to favor blog posts with at least 1,000 words. Before, the best blog post was between 350 and 500 words. That’s probably because the longer the article, the more information it has and the more the reader can learn from it.
Google needs to know your article, so keyword placement is still important. However, Google’s robots are now intelligent enough to figure out what your content is about, even if you don’t force keywords down their throats. Even though the title, description, and header tags are still crucial for optimizing your content, the most important thing you can do to get your content to rank high is to write the best content you can. Great content makes other people use and link to them, thus, increasing the rankings.
Reasons to Market Your Content
Focus on content if you want to improve your business. Marketing experts came up with a new term, “Content Marketing,” to describe the role of content in marketing. The word proves that content directly and practically affects getting leads and turning them into customers.
A person needing a product or a service will research to learn more about it. Using Google is the most common way to do this. You could also use local phone books, publications about the topic, or your network of contacts. No matter how he does his search, he will probably end up reading or watching something. It could be a YouTube video, a newspaper article, a page on a business’s website, or an ebook guide… It could even be an old-fashioned print book that still exists.
If the content is helpful and exciting, there’s a good chance that the searcher will decide to contact the seller or service provider and move forward on his “buyer’s journey.”
That’s why it’s important to give potential customers content that answers their questions, shows that you are experts and leaders in your field, and gets them to contact you.
Types of Content
You can use different kinds of content to market to possible customers. Here are some well-known ones:
Blog posts differ from web pages because they are constantly updated to discuss new topics and answer questions. Most information on web pages about a company, its products, or its services is static. On the other hand, blog posts should talk about new developments and changes related to a product or service and address (and try to solve) current problems as they arise. Each post should include a call to action and a marketing goal (CTA).
Every page and post on a website should be optimized according to the most current SEO standards to rank well in search engines. Click here for more information about optimization. But using SEO to rank high in search results should be the reason for making great content, especially when trying to rank for very popular keywords. Instead of trying to get and impress search engines, you should focus on giving your customers great content.
Putting out ebooks is a great way to show that you are an expert and a leader in your field. They are also a common way to get people to give you their email address or other contact information. They get a helpful tool, and you get information about them. But getting the chance to sell yourself to them through the book may be more important than getting their contact information. So, your ebook needs to be of high quality and written from a marketing point of view. Customers are turned off by ebooks that are poorly written or put together. Would you hire someone who puts out bad books and magazines?
Guest posts are articles you write and then post on other people’s blogs or websites. The main point is to compose articles as guests for sites where people who could be your customers read them. To post on a site with a large audience, you usually have to be persistent and build relationships, but the results could be well worth the work. If you are a dog trainer, wouldn’t it be great if you could get an article on the Petco blog? (I assume they have one). Receiving a link for your website coming from a well-known site in your industry can bring you traffic and is also suitable for SEO.
Resource guides are like long blog posts. They usually have more than 2,500 words and have helpful information to help people learn about a specific topic, like a “how-to” guide. If it’s good, people will link to this resource guide because it gives the reader a lot of value.
You could get a lot of traffic if you post the right content on social media platforms. Sharing a link to your most recent blog post is a good thing to do. But sometimes, posting a short update or sharing a photo or image is much more powerful and effective. You need to know what works on each social media platform and make or change your content to match. Most likely, what works on Linkedin won’t work on Instagram.
Your website is the center of all the online marketing you do. It’s where potential customers will go first to learn about your business, product, or service. Each page of your website’s content should be made with the customer in mind. What information will she be looking for to decide whether or not to get in touch with you? The answer to that question should be put on the website.
Companies often spend money on professional web design, which is essential for their image and reputation, but they ignore the content. Either the content will be poorly written, or there won’t be any content that talks about things potential customers care about. It won’t be about selling their product or service, even if they write helpful content. Most of the time, it won’t have a clear call to action or a way for possible consumers to reach you. Every page on your website should be made with marketing in mind.
Content marketing has become one of the most important ways to get people to buy things. But it needs to be high-quality, full of helpful information, and engaging if you want to do well in search engine results and get potential customers to contact you. To beat the competition, you must make better content and put it differently on different platforms.