We’re closing in on another year. It’s hard to believe 2018 is right around the corner, and plenty of content marketing gurus are making predictions on how blogging for business and blog planning will impact your bottom line.
With 69% of B2B marketers and 59% of B2C marketers claiming that lack of time keeps them from creating content, you might be thinking about investing in a blog writing service. The reality is that businesses are spending more money on content than ever before, and skipping out on this content marketing tactic can leave your brand behind.
According to the 2018 Content Marketing Benchmarks, Budgets, and Trends, 38% of marketers plan to increase spending in content marketing next year—and you can bet your competitors are preparing their blog strategy as we speak.
Blogging for business is a challenge on its own, but blog planning presents even more hurdles for business owners. How does a blog strategy work, and where do you begin?
These questions become even more perplexing when you’re struggling with budget. How do you ensure the best ROI?
If you are concerned about return on investment, it helps to have proven data on hand to ensure that you’re spending your money wisely.
To set you up for your best blog possible 2018, these 5 data-driven ideas will help shape your blog planning and put you on the pathway to success.
1. Increase Word Count: The Average Blog Post Word Count Went up 41% Since 2014
Once blogging for business became a formal inbound marketing technique, many published blogs that were around 300 words long. Some pushed it to 500, but you weren’t finding many company blogs maxing out at 1,000 words or more in the early 2000s.
However, the length of a typical blog post is changing.
Recent data from Orbit Media shows us that the word count of a typical blog has increased by 41% since 2014.
By the time you read this sentence, you’re roughly 300ish words deep and we’ve barely scratched the surface.
Why is blog content getting so much longer, especially when attention spans are comparable to that of a goldfish?
One of the reasons is that Google tries to answer search queries as quickly as possible. They want to display the most relevant and in-depth content available relating to a keyword or phrase. This helps Google users get to the information that they need and move on with their day.
Therefore, Google often chooses long form content to rank on the first page. This is especially the case if the content is thoroughly researched and offers extensive information on the topic at hand.
According to this data from SerpIQ, the average content length of the top 10 search results is over 2,000 words.
Another reason is that it’s difficult to answer questions thoroughly with only 500 or so words. In order to provide the best value and answer questions completely, long form content is a must.
Not only that, but long form content can increase time spent on your website by up to 40%. Customers who read long form content are also 25% more likely to read additional content on your website.
Is long always the answer? Not necessarily. You have to closely analyze your audience and consider your industry as well as your content marketing goals.
However, it’s hard to deny the results and benefits of going long while blogging for business.
Plan your blog strategy to include well-researched pieces that are roughly 1,000 words. If you have the resources and time to write over 1,000 words, try your hand at 2,000 or even 3,000. Just be sure to maintain high quality content standards as you increase word count.
2. Make Blogging a Priority: Blog Content Creation and SEO are the Most-Prioritized Inbound Marketing Tactics
According to HubSpot’s 2017 State of Inbound Marketing, marketers are prioritizing their marketing in the following areas:
This graph shows that 61% of companies are focusing on SEO in 2018, with 53% prioritizing blog content creation in the upcoming year.
Interestingly enough, blogging for business is one of the best methods of enhancing organic search engine optimization. Blogging isn’t the only way to optimize, but it can certainly be effective if you are consistent.
How can you blend blogging and SEO?
Backlinko’s third chapter of their SEO in 2018: The Definitive Guide explains several of many signals that will impact Google rankings next year.
Comprehensive and in-depth content is one of them.
We already covered the important of long form content in the last statistic.
So, when blogging for SEO, you’ll want to incorporate some good old fashioned keyword research and lace those terms into long form content.
Choosing long tail keywords with low competition is still best practice SEO in 2018.
Don’t shy away from low search volume long tail keywords. This simply means that many aren’t searching for your term on a given month, but it is highly targeted and may result in more conversions.
Other best practice SEO tips in 2018 include:
- Updating old content. It’s more important to ever to clean up outdated blog posts that have broken links, old stats, name changes, and more. If it’s been awhile since you’ve done a content or blog audit, consider this a priority for 2018.
- Put an end to keyword stuffing. Hopefully by now you’ve retired any attempts at oversaturating blog posts with keywords. If you haven’t, drop that habit like a hot potato. A good rule of thumb is have your primary keyword account for roughly 0.5% to 2% of your blog post. Keep an eye on keyword density with tools such as Yoast for SEO.
- Let link building happen naturally. Along with keyword stuffing, buying links and other black hat tactics are a big no-no with Google. You can use your blog to get high quality back links, but be sure these links are earned organically. You can consider using influencer outreach as a way to earn backlinks for your blog.
- Bring better value to the table. Regardless of your industry, there is at least one competitor using content marketing to win customers and increase sales. The reality is that you must offer more value from your content than the competition. If your competition has a top 10 list on their blog, re-create the blog as a top 20 list and add your own advice and insight. You’re basically one-upping your competitor’s content blog by blog.
- Bring new value to the table. While the above technique can help push your website in front of the competition, don’t forget that bringing new value can always help SEO. This means exploring new topics that have yet to be discussed. It’s also highly valuable to provide content that offers proven data and statistics to make your case. Supplying your own research or survey findings is even better
In terms of your blog planning, consider tapping into long tail keywords you haven’t used before. This can help pull in new traffic that wasn’t funneled to your website otherwise. You’ll also want to stick to a consistent blogging schedule and publish often. Blogs with the best results with SEO typically publish 4+ times per week.
3. Include Images in Every Post: 57% of Bloggers Use More than One Image in their Post
If you have yet to include visual content in your blog posts, you’re missing the boat. According to Orbit Media, 57% of bloggers use more than one image in their blog posts.
Furthermore, a blog post with an image receives up to 94% more views than blogs without images.
Not only that, but tweets with images receive 150% more retweets than those without images.
Facebook posts with images also see 2.3x the engagement than posts without images.
Buzzsumo hints that a good image on social media comes down to relevancy.
Try to avoid using generic stock photos. Subscribe to a quality stock image resource such as Adobe Stock or Deposit Photos.
If you aren’t fluent with graphic design programs like Adobe Photoshop, Canva may serve you well for creating feature images for your blogs.
As you prepare your blog content, pre-pick your images from your stock photo resource. You can also get ahead of the game by designing any blog feature images early, which includes the title of your post. This makes for an eye-catching post on social media that entices people to click.
4. Use List Posts for Engaging and Scannable Content: 46% of Posts Include a List
List blog posts might be severely overdone, but the truth is that they work.
They work in terms of readability, organization, and flow.
Almost everyone loves a good list. When you can create a list that makes adds value for your readers and provides helpful information, you might just hit content gold.
How to Ideate, Organize, and Write a List Post for Your Blog Planning
If you choose to use blog posts in list format for your new blog strategy, there are several approaches you can take to make the content as successful as possible.
To start, come up with a strong topic. You can use Buzzsumo to explore trending content in your industry and develop a post that is a step above the content you find online. There is also the option to use a keyword research tool to help dig up data that generates ideas.
Next, consider your headline. According to Bufferapp, there is a specific formula that is considered the “ultimate” formula:
Numbers + Adjective + Target Keyword + Rationale + Promise
Research has shown that numbered lists that are an odd number or end in zero perform the best.
After choosing your headlines, you’ll then need to think about organization and flow. Start off your list post with a compelling introductory paragraph. You’ll then want to list your main points in a logical order. This can include listing in order of importance or timeline.
Don’t forget that word count also matters when it comes to list posts—at least for social sharing and SEO.
You can create a lengthy blog post, such as this one, and break the points down into their own numbers + headers.
Every point becomes a new topic of conversation, but there should be a connection to the overall topic at hand.
If you want to go really long with your list in terms of blog count, think of each point as its own blog post at 500 words. This will give you a whopping, monster blog post that is well-researched and super shareable on social media.
Lastly, remember to add extra media such as videos, photos, and even infographics to further enhance the quality of your list post.
5. Don’t Wait to Start Your Blog Planning: 50% More Fortune 500 Companies are Blogging Publicly than in 2015
According to the University of Massachusetts at Dartmouth, corporate blogging has doubled since it hit its all-time low in 2015.
The study notes that corporations are using their blogs for thought leadership, product promotion, and engagement. The same study shows that 40% of corporations use blogging as part as their social media strategy.
However, having a plan in place with your blogging can help beat your blogging competition to the punch and stay on the latest trends.
How Can You Get Started with Your Company Blog Planning?
Research shows that blogging is a priority, and more companies are blogging now than within the last 5 years.
There is a lot of research involved when it comes to developing your strategy, but using a blog editorial calendar can help keep you on track with a fresh treasure trove of ideas on hand.
There is no right or wrong way to create a blog calendar. It comes down to what works for you and your team.
Google Sheets is a popular tool of choice to creating a blog since you can share it with anyone. It also makes it easy for anyone to update the sheet on a moment’s notice.
What do you Include on a Blog Calendar?
Your blog calendar can include whatever is necessary to get your content completed and published on time.
However, these are a few categories we recommend for best results:
- Blog topic title (You can include two per post for A/B split testing)
- Keyword(s) to be used in the blog posts
- Category name (how-to, list)
- Publish date
This is a basic overview of what a content calendar may look like, courtesy of HubSpot:
However you decide to design your blog calendar, one thing is for certain: it can help you achieve exceptional results in the world of blogging for business.
Blog planning needs a realistic mindset. Don’t set out to blog 5 times per week when you know you can only manage once per week. This will only leave you frustrated and you’ll ultimately abandon the strategy you so carefully planned.
Are You One of the 63% Without Documented Blog Planning?
According to CMI’s B2B Content Marketing Trends, only 37% of respondents have a documented content marketing strategy. This means that many organizations may be missing the mark on real ROI that blog planning brings, not to mention knowing where lead generations is occurring and other important metrics.
While content marketing and blogging is exploding, we predict there will be a big push for content and blog strategy in 2018. Busy Blogs Plus specializes in blog planning for both B2B and B2C, and we can help you craft the best strategy possible for 2018.