This article and infographic are based on a talk I gave at WordCamp Pune 2015.
Are you a blogger who’s been trying to build her blog audience and failing miserably to do so? If you’ve been wondering why your blogging efforts are not getting the results they used to get even a year ago, this post is for you.
In this post, I explore blog content creation and promotion trends in 2015 and beyond. Read on to see what the future holds for bloggers, content marketers and businesses that blog.
- The Glut Of Online Content
- The New Rules Of Content Creation
- Standing Out From The Clutter
- The Future Of Content Marketing
- The Dawn Of Robo-Journalism
- What Won’t Change in 2020 and Beyond
The Glut Of Online Content
In the early days of the web, it was very simple to get content ranked for specific keywords in Google and Yahoo, because there was not a great deal of content online.
With so little competition, traffic was much easier to come by, and websites could achieve top Alexa rankings with little effort.
Today things have changed drastically with an avalanche of content vying for readers and viewers. According to Susan Gunelius, in 2014, every minute:
- Google received over 4 million search queries per minute
- Facebook users shared nearly 2.5 million pieces of content.
- Twitter users tweeted nearly 300,000 times.
- Instagram users posted nearly 220,000 new photos.
- YouTube users uploaded 72 hours of new video content.
- Apple users downloaded nearly 50,000 apps.
- Email users sent over 200 million messages.
This infographic from DOMO explains how the web is being saturated with data or content of all types.
4.6 billion pieces of content are produced daily (Source: LinkedIn). Every day there are around 92,000 new articles posted on the internet. There are 83,000 blog posts published every hour. WordPress users produce about 35.8 million new posts each month.
In 2014 alone, over 86 million sites were built with WordPress. According to Brian Dean of Backlinko, today there are 164 million blogs online. 71% of them get fewer than 5000 visitors a month.
The New Rules Of Content Creation
Thanks to this glut of content, the rules of content creation have changed:
• “Post and Pray” no longer works.
“Post and pray” is no longer a technique that works to get traffic to your site. According to the Moz blog, posting new, unique content regularly on your site is NOT enough. You need to promote your content or leverage it in other ways to get rankings.
• “Fluffy” content no longer works.
Your 500 to 700 word articles don’t cut it anymore. “Good” content is no longer good enough. With so much great content out there, anything you create has to either be completely unique or the “best in its category” or it won’t get results.
Rand Fishkin recommends creating “10X” Content – content that is 10 times better than the best result that can currently be found in the search results for a given keyword phrase or topic.
• Long-form content rules the web.
The days are gone when you could write up a short article and expect to see a spike in traffic. Optimal blog length is now 1,600 words. The average web page that ranks on the first page of Google has over 2,000 words of content, according to Quicksprout.
If you want to create viral content, aim to publish posts that are longer than 1,500 words, says Brian Dean. If a post is greater than 1,500 words, on average it receives 68.1% more tweets and 22.6% more Facebook likes than a post that is under 1,500 words.
Update: Neil Patel now recommends creating evergreen blog posts of 3000+ words and show you how to go about doing that in his post here.
• Both quality and quantity matter.
According to PostBeyond, without quantity, you won’t be able to create a constant flow of content in your streams that attracts the right audience. If you want to understand how the balance of quality versus quantity works in more detail, check out this post on Hubspot.
Standing Out From The Clutter
So how does one stand out from the surplus of content in 2015? Here are some ways to do that.
1. The Skyscraper Technique
One of the most popular ways to do that in 2015 is Brian Dean’s Skyscraper Technique. Here’s the gist of it.
Step 1: Find link-worthy content
Step 2: Make something even better
• Make It Longer
• More Up-To-Date
• Better Designed
• More Thorough
Step 3: Reach out to the right people to promote your content
I know the Skyscraper Technique works, because I used it to create this post on my blog, and it got about 10 times more shares than most of my posts get.
2. Content Upgrades
This is another method I learned from Brian Dean. It involves offering your readers a downloadable file with excusive content while they’re going through a piece of content on your blog.
It’s not just your regular report or ebook, but a piece of content (such as a checklist or a list) that allows them to implement the information in the post they’re reading.
See how he implements it here:
3. Multiple Publishing Formats
People have different learning preferences and like to consume content in different formats. Some people prefer videos and images, some prefer podcasts, some PDFs.
If you want to widen your net and get more readers for your content, you must publish in multiple formats, such as the ones below:
Publishing content in multiple formats also allows you to attract subscribers on many different channels.
4. Great User Experience
User experience is a big Google ranking factor in 2015, but the reason you need to focus on improving your visitor’s experience on your website or mobile app is that you want to delight your visitor.
In 2015 and beyond, the user experience on mobile apps is very important as to how your content will be perceived. See how AirBnB and other companies give their mobile users a great user experience.
5. Content Syndication
This is something that has worked brilliantly for me, which is why I keep recommending it. It works especially well if your blog is brand new or quite small, and you’ve not yet managed to build up a large base of subscribers.
Syndication with news aggregators like Business2Community allows you to reach new audiences beyond your blog’s own community of readers. It’s increased my visibility, branding and shares much more than if I’d just shared content on my own blog.
6. Authoritative Guest Posts
Despite Matt Cutts having declared the demise of guest blogging as a method of building links to your blog, it is still one of the best ways to boost your reach and engagement and become well-known as an authority in your field.
The best practices for guest blogging in 2015 are to find authoritative blogs in your own field and write excellent posts for them. If you stick to guest blogging for only the best blogs, it’s unlikely that this tactic will have a negative effect on your SEO.
It’s only when you write unexceptional content for too many non-authoritative blogs, with the intention of building backlinks, that it will affect you adversely. Google is wise to these tricks now and will penalize you for them.
When writing a guest post, preferably stick to blogs that you and your audience read regularly, so that you understand their writing style and can replicate it in your own guest post.
Check out my guest post on the Social Media Examiner blog below. I would never have achieved the kind of reach and shares it got, had I posted it on my own blog.
To improve your chances of your guest post being accepted, check out Kristi Hines’ excellent guide to guest blogging.
7. Multi-Channel Publishing
In 2015, publishing your content is no longer restricted to posting on your own blog. Now social networks like LinkedIn, are encouraging writers to publish on their own channel.
This also benefits business owners because it allows them to build a following of readers wherever their audience is. LinkedIn users are more likely to read your article on LinkedIn than click on an external link to go to your blog.
Facebook will soon be releasing an updated version of its Notes feature, so expect long-form publishing to take off on Facebook soon.
If you’re worried about the specter of duplicate content, you can rewrite your blog post to make it unique before posting on LinkedIn, or else post it after a few weeks to let Google know the canonical URL is your blog.
You should know, however, that domain authority also plays a role in rankings, so the same article on your blog may not rank as well as the one you syndicated to Business2Community or posted on LinkedIn.
8. Influencer Outreach
A number of very authoritative bloggers and content creators, like Brian Dean and Neil Patel, highly recommend influencer outreach as a way to build quality links to your blog posts.
Influencer marketing, when done right, can make the difference between a blog post getting very few shares and possibly going viral. For more tips on promoting your blog, so that it goes viral, check out the neat infographic here.
According to Ashley Zeckman, “The time to start growing an influencer network is long before you actually need them, so it’s important for brands to start nurturing relationships immediately – but guided with a solid long term strategy.”
The Future Of Content Marketing
Personally, I’m not one to make predictions because I have seen how the internet has changed drastically since 2001.
In the early days of the web, no one could have even foreseen how search, blogs and social media would dominate the web today. Nor could they have predicted the growth of mobile content.
In the future, we can’t even be sure if blogs will exist in the form they do now. Perhaps WordPress will have evolved into a form that is unrecognizable to today’s bloggers.
That said, Sujan Patel has a brilliant article on what to expect from content marketing in 2020, and Ashley Zeckman lists some more trends we can expect in the future of content marketing. Here are the advances they predict:
• Omni-Channel Marketing with Adaptive Content
Omni-channel marketing is based on the idea that a single customer journey should be optimized across all potential channels, and adaptive content is what’s needed to bridge the gap between multi-channel and omni-channel marketing.
• Massively Curated Content Experiences
Content created by curating a content experience specifically for a target customer, will allow companies to give the consumer a meaningful experience in order to get them to buy.
• The Niching of Niches and Personalised Content
Niches will get even smaller, creating niches within niches and even more highly targeted markets or personas, to which we can deliver personalized marketing messages that are extremely relevant.
• Positive Psychology
Marketers will learn to appeal not just to the alleviation of pain, but the activation of potential, and products and services that tap into the positive side of psychology will thrive.
• Mobile Content
61% of US consumers search and 56% use social networks on smartphones daily (Source: Google – Our Mobile Planet). “Content creators must plan, create, promote and optimize performance specifically for the mobile experience, because that is where customers are discovering, consuming and acting on content,” says Lee Odden.
• Data-Driven and Interactive Content
Companies like JLL are creating data-driven and interactive content experiences like the JLL Cities Quiz, and RED – a sophisticated real estate analytics program. Content that is based on Big Data and provides an interactive experience to the customer is very compelling indeed.
• Content As An Experience
Content that creates an experience for the consumer is always more compelling than content that merely provides information. It’s the reason movies are much more engaging than documentaries. This will require an understanding of what really makes the customer tick, in order to create the best experience possible.
• Democratization Of Content Creation
Crowdsourcing of content and User Generated Content (UGC) content programs will democratize content creation. It can also help in building relationships with influencers who will help to promote your content.
The Dawn Of Robo-Journalism
On March 17, 2014, Slate.com reported that the first news report on the L.A. quake was written by an algorithm called Quakebot. This is the article it wrote.
In March 2015, the Associated Press (AP) announced it will use software – specifically a content generation tool called Wordsmith – to automatically generate news stories about college sports that it didn’t previously cover.
Robot-written content, or robo-journalism is expected to improve over time as companies refine their algorithms. So will robots replace reporters? I doubt it.
Robots might make breaking news stories, that are written using a template, much quicker to write, but in-depth reporting with insights and fact-finding in the field can only be done by human journalists and writers. Also, it’s unlikely that we’ll have a robot equivalent of A Song of Ice and Fire anytime soon.
What Won’t Change in 2020 and Beyond
There are some things about content that will never change, no matter the date or era. That is because they are based on a basic understanding of human nature and what keeps most humans interested.
From the time man started painting on cave walls, there are four things that content creators must do if they want their information to transcend the barriers of time.
1. Tell stories
Stories are the oldest form of human communication. From religious parables to today’s news stories, they have been used to convey information down the ages in a form that anyone can understand. As stories connect so deeply with our emotions, content that uses storytelling is also more memorable than bare facts alone, says Alex Limberg.
If you want to create content that endures, tell stories that captivate and capture interest. Stories that get shared over and over, and go down in history as unforgettable. Classic works of fiction and religious books fit that bill.
As a marketer, can you create something just as unforgettable? See how Land Rover partnered with British novelist and screenwriter William Boyd to release a 17,000 word novel called “The Vanishing Game“. It makes for a pretty engaging read, actually.
The story describes a driving adventure from London to the southern tip of Skye in Scotland, and features a Land Rover as a supporting character in the novel. Moving graphics and still images bring the novel to life while helping the reader to visualize the novel. (Source: Convince and Convert).
2. Be Newsworthy
For thousands of years, humans have been reporting the news in one form or another. Having evolved from the town crier to the blogger, news reporting is here to stay.
But if you want to be in the news, you need to do something worth talking about. If you want your business to benefit from publicity, you need to do or create something worthy of mention.
It’s challenging to create newsworthy content on a regular basis, but it can be done.
• Keep learning
You cannot stay competitive when your information is seriously out of date. If you want to stay abreast of the latest developments in the field of content creation and promotion, you need to be a constant learner.
• Check your metrics
Keep an eye on your metrics to measure how your content strategy is performing. If you’re not getting the results you want, tweak your strategy till your results improve.
• Test and track
Keep testing new ways of delivering content and track how they are working for you. Don’t be afraid to try new things. Not everything you try will work, but at least you’ll get an idea of what’s working and what isn’t.
4. Be prepared:
• For new technology
In 2001, no could have predicted the impact that blogging and social media could have on the world of content creation and promotion. Tomorrow, a new technology could evolve that might revolutionize the way we create and publish content.
• For new channels
In the early days of the web, HTML websites were our connection to the world. Now there are blogs, social media, videos, photo sites, and a growing number of content channels that we use daily to access news and content.
• For new ways of distributing content
Before the web, there were books, then came television. Now we have mobile technology, apps and wearables that deliver content to us wherever we are.
Holographic content and virtual reality is next and no one really knows what the future holds in terms of content delivery technology. Perhaps we’ll have wearables that deliver content directly to our brains (?).
Marketers who are prepared for the changes to come, and are early adopters of new technologies and channels will be the ones who benefit. The others will be left behind or vanish into the great expanse of the content stratosphere.
So how do you see content creation and promotion evolving in the years to come? Do share your observations in the comments below.