Some may call blogs an art, while others consider blogging a science. I consider them a little bit of both—a mixture of creativity, interesting content and purposeful choosing of words, headlines and length. Blogs have been around for, well, a long time now. And they’ve evolved from a form of personal diary to become one of the strongest content marketing tools. But is there more evolving to come?
As we leave behind 2020, let’s look at whether blogs will appear and behave any differently in 2021.
You Still Need to Plan a Blog Strategy
2020 felt a little bit like the Wild West in terms of turning content plans on a dime to accommodate all that happened. Most content marketers got used to going off script and pivoting when it came to content production and throwing out best-laid plans. Now is a good time to re-orient to the idea of planning out a blog strategy for 2021.
Though the topics discussed or the frequency of posts may change based on the analytics you’ve gathered from this year, the basic tenets for content mapping still apply:
- When Forbes asked their Agency Council members what best practices they recommend, “organize your content calendar” was definitely one of them. Sitting down at the beginning of the year to figure out what topics you want to cover and how often you want to post is still a key action you can take to improve your blog performance. Having a plan actually better prepares you for any unexpected shifts in content priorities you might encounter.
- Coming up with a 12-month blog plan simultaneously prioritizes quality and quantity may seem daunting. Content Marketing Institute lays out a thoughtful, step-based process that focuses on messaging without losing sight of ROI goals: 1) Identify your blog post goals, 2) Decide on themes and topics, 3) Survey your audience, 4) Track online conversations, 5) Perform keyword research, 6) Build a list of topics, 7) Determine the most effective content formats and 8) create your calendar.
Your Blogs Still Need a Catchy Headline
A blog, in a vacuum, is just words on a screen. You need readers to make it meaningful. That means gaining, and keeping, people’s attention. So, you still need to make your headline as enticing as possible. Especially given that most interactions in 2021 will still be digital-only, so standing out from the crowd will be more important than ever. But what does it mean to write headlines that garner attention and prompt folks to read a blog? Here’s some headline food for thought:
- 8 out of 10 people will read headline copy, but only 2 out of 10 will read the rest
- That means you need to cover your bases from A-Z. Whether that’s Asking a question to engage readers, promising How-to highlights, debunking Myths or leading folks with a Zinger.
- A headline must attract your target audience and signal to them there will be something of value at the other end of their click. That means a headline must be great. And though it’s difficult to put your finger on “great,” there are tried and true headline types—like these 13—that stand above the rest.
- Knowing which type of headline is right for your brand takes careful planning. Content Marketing Institute suggests following these 7 steps to arrive at headline success: 1) Identify your brand’s purpose for the content, 2) Detail the audience for the piece, 3) Understand why someone would consume this particular content, 4) Keep it accurate, 5) Pack a punch, 6) Use your voice and 7) Go before a sounding board.
Blog SEO Still Matters
Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is another way for your blog to stand out from the crowd. It’ll be even more important in 2021 as more digital assets vie for the eyes and considerations of potential and current customers.
For folks to read your blog post, however, they first have to find it. That could mean coming across it while on your website or seeing it embedded in a social post. But more often than not it means finding it via a search engine like Google. And we all know what that means—you need SEO until the cows come home (or at least until they can find your content).
Why bake SEO into your blog post creation? Because how well your post performs has a direct impact on your website traffic. HubSpot explains: “Blogging helps boost SEO quality by positioning your website as a relevant answer to your customers’ questions. Blog posts that specifically use a variety of on-page SEO tactics can give you more opportunities to rank in search engines and get customers to visit your site.”
Here are some evergreen SEO considerations:
- SEO optimization touches all aspects of blog creation—key words, meta descriptions, images, copy length, internal and external linking, and more. Check this out for a detailed primer on how each aspect should be addressed as you create your blog.
- Keep in mind that organic search commands 53% of all website traffic, and B2B companies generate 2X more revenue from organic search than any other channel.
- You need to balance quality content with SEO. Really great content doesn’t necessarily rank high. However, content that’s stuffed with keywords and phrases just for the sake of SEO won’t rank high, either. Your content needs to be well written and contain valuable information, but at the same time needs to be crafted to include SEO factors naturally. That means being deliberate in trying to achieve SEO without aiming to address every SEO factor under the sun.
Your Bells and Whistles Will Likely Change
he nuts and bolts of sound, effective blog creation will carry over into 2021. What’s likely to change is what else you include on or around your article page. That’s because the shift from in-person events to digital events has increased digital asset creation at an astounding rate.
The volume of webinars, conferences and other online experiences offered by content marketers is unlike anything we’ve seen before. To get these assets noticed by current and potential customers, marketers have to get creative with where, when and how they spotlight every digital event. Blog posts, and the web pages they reside on, are the perfect real estate to extend that digital awareness.
That means you might start working in banners to announce a webinar, or widgets to link to sign-up forms. Contently has a perfect example of how a minor tweak (like a non-intrusive banner to promote their other digital content) can amplify engagement. They did this pre-2020 and, even then, it led to increased downloads and double their webinar registrations. The key to marketers successfully doing this in 2021 will be to careful consideration of where to place banners and what to put in them.
A lot changed over the course of 2020, but thankfully blog post creation isn’t really one of them. Blogs are a tried and true content tool that can effectively reach a target audience. With a few tweaks to bells and whistle, your 2021 blogs can be even more impactful than in years past. If you’d like more tips around content marketing SEO, check out this blog post. Or connect with us on Twitter, LinkedIn or Facebook if you’d like to learn more about any of the other topics just covered.
Author: Stacy Greenburg, Content Manager, OMS
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