My daughter Austen launched her doula business several years ago and was mainly using Facebook and personal referrals to get work. While she was getting some work, she was missing out on a large source of potential clients—search engine traffic that could go to her website MamasBlessing.com. The way to get this traffic is by blogging.
The search terms “doula,” “doula services,” and “doula near me” on Google Trends shows that people are looking for doulas in California, including the Bay Area, her target market’s location.
In addition to doula services, Austen also offers massage services to her clients. Search terms in the Bay Area show a high interest in “massage services” and “pregnancy massage.”
We discussed what she could do to ramp up lead generation via search engine traffic.
“Start sharing new content on social media and writing regular blog posts,” I suggested.
I built Austen’s WordPress business site when she launched her entrepreneurial effort, but she has yet to utilize the blog aspect.
“Blogging,” I reminded her, “is still the best way to build brand authority and is good for SEO (search engine optimization).”Blogging is still the best way to build brand authority and is good for SEO (search engine optimization) Click To Tweet
My statement made me pause and ask the question, will blogging continue to be a critical component in content marketing for the future?
The short answer is yes, blogging is still one of the best ways to inform potential customers of what you do, how you do it, and that you are one of the best at it. A blog is at the core of a sound content marketing strategy and a key to getting your website found in search engines.
However, since the launch of the first blog more than two decades ago, the concept of content marketing has grown to include slideshows, video, podcasts, infographics, and other types of media.
Still, the written word is as crucial as ever. The following statistics highlight blogging’s value to businesses and entrepreneurs:
- In 2014, 27.4 million bloggers in the U.S. updated their sites at least once per month. That number is expected to reach 31.7 million in 2020.
- Approximately 409 million people read more than 20 billion pages each month.
- WordPress users publish more than 70 million posts per month (WordPress.com)
- Readers submit 77 million new comments on WordPress blogs each month
- Websites that incorporate blogs have 434% more indexed pages
- 77% of Internet users read blogs
- 68.5% of participants in an online survey indicated that a blog added credibility to a site
- B2B marketers who use blogs received 67% more leads than those who do not publish
To learn how blogging and content marketing overall is still relevant, let us take a look at the history of the blog and the future of blogging. We’ll also take a brief look at how Google and other major search engines use content to rank sites.
The First Blog and Blogging Platforms
Justin Hall, a former Swarthmore college student who created the website Links.net, in 1994, is widely credited as the founding father of the blog. Rather than a personal diary, the blog at first was more a collection of HTML links to sites he found interesting. He later expanded his online entries to expose much more personal history.
Like Hall, others used the Internet to record daily Internet activities. Jorn Barger, who coined the term Weblog, listed sites he visited on the now-defunct website Robot Wisdom.
Blogging platforms like Open Diary, Live Journal, Xanga, and Blogger were launched in the late nineties (Google bought Blogger from Pyra Labs in 2003). WordPress, one of the most prolifically used platforms to build Websites and blogs, launched in 2003. Soon, an explosion of personal online diaries took place.
Political blogs began to emerge in the early 2000s, and how-to guides on publishing a blog became available.
In 2012, Pyra Labs co-founder Evan Williams launched the blogging platform Medium, where various businesses publish their content. The same year, LinkedIn started its Influencer publishing platform, where accomplished professionals published articles. LinkedIn soon opened its publishing platform to all members.
Blogging and SEO
With the surge of blogs in the mid-nineties, the first search engines, like Excite, began cataloging websites by sorting search results according to keywords used in the content, among other backend optimization methods. Yahoo and Google search soon entered the scene and improved Website indexing.
However, many site owners implemented terrible practices such as keyword stuffing, overuse of tagging, and including spammy links to boost their rankings.
Once Google and other major search engines refined their algorithms, high quality, relevant content became extremely important in Website rankings. Sites that continued poor SEO practices were penalized and dropped from rankings.
Today, Google outlines what contributes to good SEO in its comprehensive SEO Starter Guide.
Creating compelling and useful content will likely influence your website more than any of the other factors discussed here.” — Google
People will continue, at least for the foreseeable future, to use search engines to find information and entertainment, whether they use voice command or type keywords and phrases into a search bar. These information requests require content that search engines can crawl, understand, and index.
While video and other visual media, and podcasting, are used more and more to tell stories, it is the text that search engines use in understanding the content of a site. Many podcasters and video publishers embed the text version of their shows on their webpages for SEO purposes.
While some businesses may choose to use a platform like Medium or LinkedIn to publish most of their content, if you use your website to generate leads, posting a blog is essential to your content marketing success.
How You Can Be a Successful Blogger
My daughter laughed at my suggestion to start blogging regularly. I understand why. In addition to running her business, she is the mother of two small children.
You know everything, all you have to do is write it down.”
But she might be able to carve out a little time to write something useful for her target audience, new parents, and those who need healing through massage. She is, after all, a natural writer who had written articles for me when I was editor of The Malibu Times Newspaper and Malibu Times Magazine.
“Write about one question that a mom or dad might have about being a new parent. You know everything, all you have to do is write it down,” I told her.
For those who do not have the natural ability to write or the time to publish a regular blog, there are options. You can hire a freelancer to author posts or an agency to execute your overall content marketing strategy.
If you decide to do it yourself, here’s a few links to articles about how to write a blog post and optimize it:
Whatever you do, it is not too late to start blogging.