The blogging world is rapidly changing, so it can be difficult to keep up with. Between link building drama, algorithm updates, personalized content concerns, mobile vs. desktop chaos and more, it can help to take a step back and look at the state of the blogosphere as a whole in order to determine what you specifically need to be successful.
A lot of the basic principles of blogging have not changed, so you have to find a way to navigate around the changes and some of the old practices that still hold true today. Fortunately, it’s not as overwhelming as it might seem if you just break it down into parts.
How The Blogosphere Has Remained The Same Over The Years
Understanding how the blogosphere has not changed in 2015 can help give you an idea of where you need to be refocusing your efforts. For some, this will be the new changes that need attention, but for other companies, it may just be consistently executing on the basics.
Overall, there seems to be 3 main things that have remained the same:
Engaging, high-quality content continues to be king. If you run a corporate website, you need to create a blog and install a professional theme to start growing your online presence. Content marketing is the cornerstone of building any blog or website for the long-term. Google has become more adept at understanding user intent, so how-to guides, tutorials, and practical resources are likely to dominate search engine rankings in 2015. Great content is also required to facilitate the next two aspects of building a blog.
SEO is still a vital aspect of blogging and is one of the main foundations for successful blogging. Site structure, keyword research, on-page SEO, linking to other bloggers, contributing content, and an extensive outreach campaign are some of the best ways to help build your SEO profile. Although how you structure your link building strategies has changed (discuss in the next section), the basic principles are still a huge factor in the blogosphere and this hasn’t changed.
Social media is the newest comer to the group, but has quickly become a must-have tool for any brand, company, or blogger. Diversifying your traffic sources away from Google using social media channels is one way to protect yourself, considering it is likely the only source of traffic that may rival Google’s search engine. In fact, some would argue that social media is what spurred the phenomenal growth of blogging in recent years!
As you can tell, the overarching foundation of effective internet marketing has not changed, but the subtle tactics within each category are vastly different and enhanced.
How To Succeed With Content Marketing
According to Orbit Media, the ideal length of blog posts for SEO ranking was 1,500 words. That’s definitely interesting because it illustrates how the times have shifted and reinforces the focus on quality content. In the age of Twitter’s 140 characters and the short attention span nature of social media, it sometimes seems short, quick-hitting blog posts are more successful, but it just depends on your audience and industry.
In other words, we’re seeing some sites change from long-form articles to videos, infographics, surveys, and other visual content. However in terms of SEO placement, comprehensive articles continue to perform because it’s still easier for Google to understand text. Longer posts not only saw a significant bump in search engine rankings, but also in terms of backlinks earned from other bloggers.
Orbit also found that 82 percent of bloggers write less than 1,000 words per post, as compared to just 5 percent of bloggers who dial up 1,500 words or more. Want to stand out from the crowd? Write more, but don’t use filler words. People won’t come to the site for fluff just so you can turn a 1,000-word post into 1,500. Give your posts more substance and value, and the community will notice. That might mean more research, time and energy, but to avoid falling behind the competition, writing great blog posts is more critical than ever. Nevertheless, don’t underestimate the power of infographics – they still work!
Black Hat. Let’s not pretend that link spam, automated processes, and paid links are a thing of the past. In fact, Black Hat SEO is alive and well. Online marketers have developed tons of different strategies to outsmart Google’s algorithm, such as building out private link networks with limited outbound links, buying expired domains and placing single homepage backlinks, or buying sponsored posts disguised as editorial links on reputable blogs.
The unfortunate thing is that, as frustrating as it is for legitimate bloggers who follow Google’s Webmaster Guidelines, their algorithm will never be able to perfectly differentiate between White and Black Hat strategies – that can only be done through human intervention via manual reviews. So, if you’re looking to succeed online, you better be willing to work harder than ever before.
White Hat. Now, this is where I specialize. While Black Hat SEO may have an advantage in terms of ease and speed, White Hat is more powerful in the long-run. It’s all about working with authoritative publications now. Quality is more important than quantity, and it hasn’t always been that way.
Despite the fact that Matt Cutts called guest blogging “done”, not all guest blogging is equal. The right way to contribute to other blogs without getting your content devalued is to actually write something with the intention of impressing readers.
When you guest post, follow a few simple suggestions:
- Write at least 1,000 words in perfect English
- Write every article like you are trying to rank just on the merits of your content alone
- Link to sites you don’t own
- Limit the number of links (1-2) to your own web properties
- Use long phrases and diversify anchor texts
- Link primarily to internal pages
- Your author bio should always use branded links
Outreach and Exposure. Guest posting is a tedious process, and while it yields results, earning links through guest blogging is certainly not a scalable strategy. The next step is to develop a comprehensive outreach campaign.
A methodical outreach program produces huge results because it can be repeated time and time again after a blogger publishes valuable content that specific influencers would find worthy of sharing and linking to. And frankly, it’s not a difficult task at all – it just requires an investment of your time to prospect and customize emails.
The first step is creating an amazing article – I mean something that is above and beyond anything on a given subject. It has to be eye-opening, actionable content that is beautifully designed or formatted so people will want to call it a “go-to” resource. If you fall short of accomplishing this, then the rest of your efforts will be futile and embarrassing. You can check out this page for the ultimate list of blog post ideas.
The second step is to prospect and find authorities in the space – other bloggers who would find your content worth sharing with their audiences. These individuals must also have strong social medial accounts with tens of thousands of followers and strong engagement. You will need to find their email addresses. If that’s not possible, you must try to connect with them via social media, primarily Twitter.
Finally, you have to draft an attention-getting, yet concise email or message. You need to include a short introduction and a basic ask, such as “If you find my resource on email marketing best practices, I’d really appreciate it if you could share it with your followers on Twitter.” Your ask has to be fast and easy to accomplish. Popular bloggers are busy, so if you request something that will take literally more than a minute to do, you’re likely not to get anything at all.
Each time you publish new content, you can expand the reach and include more bloggers. The benefit of this is that your list will continue to grow, and you will perfect your system over time.
Basic Tools To Help You Succeed
Here are a few ways to further leverage your content marketing strategy in 2015.
Use Google Analytics
Simply looking at your traffic numbers and referrals may seem a little counterproductive in trying to be successful as a blogger. After all, why not spend that time working on promoting your blog or creating more, better content for the site?
But monitoring your traffic (Google Analytics works best) can help you learn quickly what people are clicking on, what they’re not, and who/what are the biggest referrals. You can then craft your posts and entire blog around that.
Think of it like a professional athlete who watches past game film to learn thing about his/her own personal performance in order to function at a higher level moving forward. The more you learn about what types of posts are popular, the more you can drive up your traffic numbers and improve the overall blog.
Just as you have to stay active on your social media accounts, you have to remain active in terms of posting. That might seem like a no-brainer, but you’d be surprised how many bloggers post just when the mood strikes them. That’s especially true for those bloggers who run their site on the side.
Yes, blogging might not be the most lucrative business for a part-time blogger with a career, but these days, you can make a decent amount of money if you do it right. However, it’s impossible to build a loyal following by being inconsistent. If you truly want to be successful as a blogger, you need to be posting 2 to 3 times a week, every week.
Not only do you have to post consistently, but you also need to determine when it is the best time for your audience. That’s where Google Analytics can come in handy, too. Most people are perusing the internet Monday-thru-Thursday with Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays as typical “down” days.
Also, you want to keep standard business hours in mind as you publish. Many people read their favorite blogs on the commute to and from work, and during their lunch break.
So, if you produce a great piece of content, don’t publish it in the middle of the night or on the weekends if you want to maximize exposure.
Becoming a successful blogger today is certainly a lot more complicated than just the few rules stated above, but these concepts continue to be the backbone of blogging.
As you enter the blogging world, have you found any other ways to bring about success? What are some of the best things your favorite bloggers accomplish on a consistent basis? Let us know in the comments section below (or on social media!).