Blogging is dead. Or, at least, that's what most folks say, especially considering that videos and podcasts are the ones that are selling hot and fast nowadays. And small and up-and-coming blogs continue to decry the devastation they have had to endure due to a series of Google core updates that have all but wiped out all their organic traffic from the search engine.
While there is some truth to the statement that 'blogging is dead', one may still argue that blogging isn't entirely gone. For folks to declare that blogging is dead would be overlooking the fact that blogging seems to be taking on a new form.
In this article, we will examine the state of blogging today and explore some of the ways you may still be able to utilize blogging for business and make the most out of it.
Blogging in the Age of Video Content and Podcasts
When blogging emerged as personal online journals or diaries in the early 1990’s, it soon became a huge hit, especially for creative types. It became one of their avenues to express their artistry and creativity by using words that were put together really well to convey a message engagingly.
Some might be inclined to think that blogging is overrated; that it is just glorified writing. But it isn't. Tell that to millions of writers all over the world who practice the craft.
Blogging requires time, knowledge, and discipline to take an idea or concept and craft it into a well-written and helpful article.
While not all bloggers are Pulitzer winners, most do take their craft very seriously.
Blogs in Many Forms and Formats
Like any written art form, blogs fall under different categories. The most popular is lifestyle blogs that allow professional and amateur bloggers to create helpful and engaging content that people from different backgrounds find relevant to their lifestyles.
Blogs have become so popular and widespread today that chances are you've probably already read hundreds, if not thousands, of blogs already with all the time you've spent online, such as this article you're reading now.
And while blogging is a popular avenue of choice for personal and professional bloggers, the digital age has pushed audiences past the written art form. Newer, more dynamic, and engaging formats now come in the form of vlogs or video blogs.
As YouTube took over the world in the early 2000s, regular folks were empowered to create online content. People can now upload videos on their channel, build a following, and monetize their content based on their viewers and subscriber numbers through this medium.
It might seem that with the continuous popularity of video content and podcasts, blogs are no longer relevant. And as mentioned earlier, the statement "blogging is dead" is partially true - certainly as far as personal blogging is concerned.
From Writer-Centric to Reader-Focused Blogs
Personal bloggers – the ones writing about what's going on in their lives – have since waned, and lifestyle bloggers have stepped up their game. Gone are the days of blogs as personal journals and diaries. Nowadays, businesses are taking full advantage of whatever platform they can use to reach a wider audience. Videos, podcasts, and even blogs fall under the umbrella of content marketing strategies that companies use to further their reach.
Most readers have also gravitated towards written materials that are more relevant to them. For instance, students looking for tips to survive their freshman year in university, or searching for the best international school admissions are the most likely to visit articles on blog sites from educational institutions. Similarly, folks looking to improve their health and wellness will seek out materials published by blogs in the health and wellness vertical. The focus has shifted from the writer's experiences and thoughts to a focus on reader's needs and wants at a given time.
Noticeably, over the past years, companies and businesses that utilize content marketing have experienced a significant organic traffic boost through regular blogging. This traffic increase is credited to people's craving for relevant and helpful content that is published regularly on a company's blog and shared on social media, including blog posts, video, and other content.
In this way, blogging is not dead — at least not for big and established brands that are favored more by Google's algorithms in its search engine results pages (SERPs) seemingly at the expense of smaller, niche blogs.
Big Brands More Favored By Google at Expense of Smaller Blogs
Over the last couple of years, the SEO and blogging community has consistently seen the big brands dominating SERPs for high-volume keywords. This is what continues to drive the strong sentiment that 'blogging is dead' for smaller players in the blogging scene, at least.
However, blogging remains an integral part of content marketing for brands that can afford to invest heavily in high-end content and paid search ads, despite the proliferation of independent creator vlogs, podcasts, memes, and social media reals. The general public still loves to read blogs, so technically blogging is not dead. It's just that smaller companies and smaller blogs that rely on search engines for their traffic are not getting as much organic traffic as they once did.
Google's core search engine updates and new search engine features like Feature Snipets, Knowledge Cards, and Carousels (everything from songs to products) seem to favor the bigger brands now. And since many folks use Google to search for relevant blogs and content online, only the more favored big brands get the most visibility in SERPs and the most organic traffic.
Sadly, that disproportionate trend in Google search engine updates favoring big brands probably isn’t going away any time soon. As such, blogging seems dead for smaller brands. While it does appear that Google no longer provides a level playing field for the little guys, both in organic and paid search, it does not take away the fact that blogging is still integral for content marketing.
Many content marketing tools have even emerged to help brands promote their blogs, and internet users also have many tools available to help them curate their own personalized blog reading list.
Tips to Build and Manage a Blog Today
If you are a blogger and would like to build and revitalize your blog site, and perhaps turn things around and make it profitable in the long run, here are a few things you can try:
I. Think strategically about your content
Ensure that your blog topics are well thought out and helpful. Blogging is not just about proper grammar and knowing the different styles and nuances of writing. It goes beyond that.
Your content has to provide real value and attract people right off the bat. It must keep users engaged and wanting more.
Put as much effort into the planning process as you do the creative process.
II. Keep user experience at the forefront
You need to know what your audience is looking for. Make your content relevant, helpful, and meaningful to them, if you want them to keep visiting engaged and coming back to your site.
III. Be more visual
Don't shy from incorporating more visual elements into your blogs. Very few people have the patience to go through a page made up of a vast block of text.
Throw in a few images and videos in the mix (just don't forget to credit your sources).
If you're unsure how to go about it or you feel like you lack the skills, many blogs (yes, blogs) offer tips to help improve your site visually.
IV. Voice your complaint to Google
If your blog is affected by Google's core updates that seem to favor big brands more and more, it may help to vocally and unanimously give your feedback to Google on the state of their search engine and how it affects your blog.
Stand up and be counted by giving your contribution to the debate around the changing face of SERPs, blogging, and SEO. Perhaps, they will listen.
Blogging is far from dead. It is actually thriving, albeit in a different arena. Personal blogging may have declined in popularity, but lifestyle and informational blogs are thriving, especially when used as a marketing tool by the big and established brands.
Blogging remains one of the most effective and organic methods of getting a company's message across. For small, less established companies and blogs, however, each Google core update and enhanced search feature addition seems to be tipping the scales firmly in favor of the biggest brands as far as organic search traffic and paid search traffic is concerned.
If you are a small company or blog trying to compete and get more visibility in SERPs in the current environment, you may be better of building your brand first and become more well-known amongst your target audience. This way you may perhaps break into the established or big brands league that is being favored by Google in SERPs and reap additional organic traffic benefits.
What do you think? Is blogging dead this time around?