Many clients come to us because someone said they need to start blogging or have a blog on their company’s website. And we say “yes you did… 15 years ago.” A blog tool can serve an extremely valuable purpose when integrated into your website, but please don’t call it a blog. Instead, companies looking to present an air of professionalism or round out their brand should call the section on their website “News”, “Updates”, or “News & Updates.”
Let’s go through a history of blogs and how one can support your overall marketing effort in 2023.
The term blogs, short for “web logs”, is essentially a word that was fashioned to infer a diary published on the internet. Doesn’t exactly project a professionalism now does it?
Back in the mid-1990s it was a cathartic avenue for people to write about their private life, mostly anonymously, online. Today, the anonymity is gone, and it is commonplace for people to provide all kinds of personal details about their private life on social media or ubiquitous blogs.
From the perspective of marketing consultants, the blogs have been an extremely useful and valuable tool since about 2010. It helped to make clients feel energized about their own product or service, get them more involved in brand development through SEO tasks, and better understand how search optimization can work to get new customers. Even back then, in the early 2010s, we did our best to recommend that clients refer to their blog as “News & Updates” or something similar on their main, primary menu.
The Relevant History of Blogging
1994: The first blogs were created on Links.net. The term “blog” had not yet been coined, so they were referred to as a “personal homepage.”
1997: The term “weblog” was coined and many people began to share their personal lives on the internet.
1999: “Weblog” was shortened to “blog” and began to be used regularly. The site Blogger.com, a precursor to WordPress.com, was created. It opened up opportunities for non-programmers to publish content on the internet.
2002: Blogs began to gain momentum as many people began publishing content about parenting to educate and support readers. At the same time, some began to monetize their blog website by selling ads.
2003: MySpace (social media) launched and made it even easier for non-technical people to publish their private lives on the internet. There wasn’t a way to monetize it, so blogging continued to grow. Concurrently, WordPress, the preeminent website CMS (content management system), launched to allow everyday people to to build their own blog website.
Also in 2003, Google launched AdSense, a platform for people to sell and publish ads on their blog. Companies bid to advertise on those websites through Google Advertising’s display network through visual ads/banners, not search ads. The net effect was a boom in the volume of content being published on the Internet and the advent of spam websites with duplicate content, scraped content (content pulled from other websites and reshaped), or just nonsense gobbledygook chasing ad revenue from Google.
2005: WordPress started developing its brand. YouTube launched to make easier for the general public to post videos (video blogs) and browse videos. Also, a popular blogger at the time was granted White House press credentials lending more credibility to the relatively new media channel. The Huffington Post came to be and the line between news reporting and blogging began to blur. Though the website began as a “political forum” of sorts, it essentially began by aggregating blog content.
2006: Twitter launched as “micro blogging.”
2007: Tumblr was launched, continuing the trend of microblogging through photography… it was a precursor to Instagram.
2010: The WordPress Foundation became official. Automattic, the company that held WordPress’ trademarks, formed the foundation to prevent abuse and dilution (keep the core system free to use) should acquisition of the company and its other digital assets take place.
2011: Google began to change its search algorithm to punish websites (mostly blogs) deemed to contain content of no value, which refers to duplicate or scraped content with spammy links to legitimate or other junk websites.
2014: The almost death of blogs… The evolution of social media and the speed of people reacting to posted content led many a lemming to social media. Posting on social media can be valuable, but the content of social media has the same DNA as blogs so there are a lot of distractions.
2015-2022: The TLD (top-level domain) .blog is launched. Though it may have reinvigorated blogging, it has very little value in terms of SEO. In this time, WordPress made significant improvements to the software that runs WordPress websites to be more secure and more efficient in terms of hosting resources.
Today, WordPress powers more than 20% of all self-hosted websites. The WordPress community is massive and dedicated to developing new features and quickly troubleshoot any issues that arise… faster than any corporate bureaucracy running “other “pay to play” CMS systems.
ITEM TO NOTE: There have been numerous other blogging platforms or Content Management Systems that have come and gone. WordPress has been the clear winner since the early 2010s. To understand why, visit www.wordpressfoundation.org.
Blogging in 2023
Currently the estimate is that there are more than 1.9 billion websites of which more than 600 million are blogs. They account for at least 50 billion webpages based on an estimate of what Google has indexed in early 2023. Not all websites choose to share their pages publicly, so the number of websites, blogs, pages, and content is much higher. Furthermore, there are new bloggers and new pages being created every minute adding more content available on the internet.
Is your website going to get noticed by potential customers outside your network, most of whom go directly to your website or search for you by name?
The arena is saturated, and the game is more complex now. It takes deep analysis, thoughtful design, thorough planning with vested parties, and diligent effort for at least a year.
The reality today is that the internet has become inundated with spam junk and all kinds of mess. You’ve probably come across the numerous pages that tout information on a specific subject but then redirect you to something else or you are forced to read through paragraphs of worthless AI-created content or some young adult’s ad-drenched blog that has a 4-page backstory on how they learned to boil water to discover the optimal cooking time for soft-boiled eggs. It’s 6-7 minutes when dropping eggs into already-boiling water. There, we just saved you at least 15 minutes of suffering one of the unfortunate consequences of the modern internet and trying to weed through the information.
Fortunately, Google in conjunction with other organizations is making strides in helping people avoid junk that wastes time, spammy sites of no value, and other nefarious websites.
So this is how you should use a blog tool and CMS like WordPress in 2023.
When a company has a “News & Updates” section that runs on a blog-based platform like WordPress, it functions to support your marketing efforts from both an SEO perspective and PR point of view to get your offering in front of new customers and build awareness.
Blogging for SEO
More pages of valuable information or updates works to get your website to appear higher up and in more search results that are relevant to your product and service offering. This puts your business in front of more potential customers.
Blogging for PR
Regular updates through a blog tool, also supports general “public relations” to show that your organization stays current with industry events and changes in your marketplace. It shows pride and that your organization can adapt to what customers want or need.
This means you have to stay up to date with it, and regularly create new posts or articles.
HOW TO BUILD YOUR BLOG
First, consider the resources, both time and money, that you have available to design the website or add a new section to your current website AND create unique and valuable content every week.
Once you are confident with the investment necessary, it takes a deep technical analysis, thorough planning with all the people or departments involved, and thoughtful configuration of the system.
Lastly and equally important is to be all in on putting diligent effort into it for at least a year.
When your organization shows a well-established history of participating in industry events, addressing changes in the market, and keeping up with the evolution of an industry, it supports the establishment of your “social proof.” Social proof is all the cumulative activity and information about your company online. It is essentially the modern-day equivalent of a background check for your company. People look for accomplishments, how active a company is in the industry, how proud the company and its associates are, and how hard it works to deliver customer/client satisfaction or manage your way through dilemmas, issues, or hurdles.