Cue the funeral taps: for whatever reason, the search term “is blogging dead?” remains one of the most popular questions surrounding the future of blogging. What a sad gestalt to have as a group.
Change into some color and look ahead, my friend! The future of blogging isn’t just alive (could we have a lower bar?), but it’s bright! Blogs and blogging have never been more relevant.
Intro To The Future Of Blogging
Digital consumption is experiencing a seemingly never-ending boom. Reflect on your own personal consumption and I’m sure you won’t be shocked by that.
In fact, digital consumption doubled in 2020 and it is expected to keep growing in the next year. Fortunately, blogs are expected to remain the preferred way of consuming content. Beyond just readership, the amount of money you can make from your blog will probably also increase even further.
This doesn’t mean that there is no reason to worry, though. The fact that some people think blogging is on its way out is not entirely unjustified. The online world is changing and at first sight, it doesn’t look good for small bloggers.
With the advent of content marketing and the huge profits that can be made, it is no surprise that big companies have decided to enter the field. It is expected that within the span of a few years, they will take to blogging in recorded numbers in order to attract more clients, customers, and leads.
The Future Isn’t That Far Away
The onset of all of this can already be seen. Already, bloggers have to compete with big players such as The Spruce, the Daily Beast, and BuzzFeed. Companies of this size can afford whole armies of copywriters or even bots (yep, writing bots) to crank out huge amounts of content. It’s only a matter of time before every keyword will be targeted by some large corporation.
The landscape doesn’t look good for the individual blogger. That is, for the blogger who is unwilling or incapable of changing. In this blog post, let’s look at some of the current developments that should indeed worry you.
Although some of what’s happening right now might seem discouraging, there are ways through which you might be able to avoid what’s coming. As long as you’re willing to adapt and slightly change the way you approach your blog, you might just be okay.
5 Tips For Preparing For The Future Of Blogging
Before you dive in: I want to mention that I’ve only been blogging for a few years. This piece wasn’t written based on my expertise about the future of blogging, but is more so the distilling of many articles from the experts.
After reading extensively for myself what Moz, Niel Patel, and other SEO overlords had to say about the future of blogging, I felt there were clear takeaways for those of us who are still at the relative beginnings of our journeys.
1. Build Up Your Authority Within Your Niche
It’s becoming apparent that Google increasingly favors big brands in its algorithm and this trend is expected to continue. With the expected increased output by new big players in the field (remember the writing bots?), building up your brand as an authority has never been more important.
The takeaway is simple: go deep!
Competing with big brands that people trust is going to be very difficult. This is especially true when it comes to short-tail keywords. When someone types in the word mountain bike on Google, it makes sense for Google to present them with a list of bike shops that offer good deals.
Furthermore, bigger brands will have most of the things down that Google considers signs of quality. They have the budget for a fast, professional website that is well maintained and for scores of copywriters that consistently put out new content.
The days of starting a bunch of niche sites with a few dozen articles might be behind us. Thin-content niche sites will be a thing of the past. You know the niche sites I’m talking about: the ones that have a few dozen articles on a particular topic and mainly depend on affiliate sales.
Did your blog accidentally fall into this sandpit? Go rescue it! Here are 10 easy blog post ideas to kickstart your publishing again.
Insulating Your Site From Changing Times
It seems that the clearest way to compete in the near future will be to really build up your authority within your niche. This process will need to start now because it takes time for online authority to build. Instead of branching out, go deep. Stick to one topic and really establish your brand within that vein.
When it comes to finding keywords to rank for, focus on long-tail keywords exclusively. Frankly, you will never be able to compete on short-tail, highly competitive keywords since Google boosts big brands so much.
It shouldn’t be impossible to rank in your niche, but the days of quickly building a bunch of ranking niche sites will really become a thing of the past.
2. The Human Connection Is Going To Become More Important
Although you might feel you can never compete with the big guns, not all is lost for the small blogger. You have a blogging superpower that they can never attain.
One thing that individual-run blogs have going for them that a big company can never have is that they are written by human beings.
Blogs, compared to companies, are inherently more:
Blogs have that cool tell-it-like-it-is-factor that makes people trust them more than they would a corporate site. Whether it’s a review of a particular product or tips on what to do when you have 48 hours in New York, blogs are seen as the way around the carefully scripted message that a company wants you to read.
Your audience wants to know if a product actually does the things that are advertised. Likewise, they want to know about things in New York that are actually fun to do.
Similarly, blog content written by an independent writer has personality. Corporate language is so painfully sterilized that even the people who write it find it boring. I know because I’ve been that person writing those miserable corporate blog posts.
This may sound like an irrelevant detail but in it lies something that really sets blogs apart. People like to read about people and will always be interested in information that is based on someone’s experience in the real world.
It shouldn’t feel that far-fetched. Let’s look at an example and you’ll easily feel this to be true.
The Power Of The Little Guy
Let’s say you want to buy a loaf of bread. You can either go to the supermarket or a local bakery. At the supermarket, you can get a cheap but generic product that gets the job done. Going to your local bakery, however, will get you a very different experience.
Going into the bakery, you are met by the delicious smell of freshly baked bread. You might even know the owner because you have been there a few times before. Finally, the love that the baker has for their craft shows in the quality of the product. You get craftsmanship and an overall better product.
This connection between you and your audience is one of your greatest assets. Be yourself, be authentic, and talk to the reader like they’re your friend. Since you don’t have to answer to a board of directors, you have the freedom to do just that. The more you show who you are, the more you give your audience to connect to.
By really emphasizing your personality in your writing, you create the human connection that big companies can never replicate. People are already drawn to blogs because of it and it is going to be more important than ever in the future of blogging.
3. Optimize For Search Intent Rather Than Keywords
Google’s algorithm is steadily improving and it’s expected to have serious consequences for traditional SEO. The expectation is that traditional SEO (optimizing for specific keywords), will be a thing of the past.
Instead, Google is increasingly using search intent to determine rankings.
Above anything else, Google wants to give readers the best, most relevant information. Google tries very hard to give a consumer the information it thinks they’re looking for. This can be problematic when it comes to ambiguous search terms. When someone types in Amsterdam on Google, the search intent is not immediately clear.
Is this person looking to find directions to Amsterdam? Maybe this person is a student that needs to write a paper on the history of Amsterdam? In order to present the most relevant piece of quality content, Google tries to look at other factors besides just keywords. This is where search intent comes in.
Optimizing for search intent basically comes down to anticipating two important questions: who would want to read your article and why. When you’re writing for search intent, the first step is to get rid of anything that is not related to the main point you’re trying to make. After all, you want to make the content of your article crystal clear for search engines.
You want your writing to be crystal clear for the readers, too, so this step is doubly important. Don’t fall for the beginner blogging mistake of having an unclear topic in your writing, or both Google and your readers will be turned off.
After that, go and see what the first ten results that Google presents on the first page. Use these as a starting point and look for things that are missing. In other words, look for things you can add to make your content better than what’s out there. Whether it is additional information, additional graphics, or video, include anything that has the potential of making your content more valuable than what’s already there.
Google Is Evolving
SEO is changing as Google is becoming better at recognizing synonyms and otherwise understanding the content of your article. The guys at Moz identified three additional factors that are expected to become more important for determining rankings: relevance, authority, and user satisfaction.
Relevance is more or less outside of your control since it’s partially determined by your readers. Even if your content is good, it might not be what they were looking for.
Since Google wants to show its users only quality results, being an authority within your niche is your best bet to show up. Luckily, the way to become an authority hasn’t changed yet. It is still a matter of building links, both external and internal, and showing Google that your site has information covering a certain topic from all kinds of angles.
Finally, there is user satisfaction. Does your piece of content actually meet the user’s expectations or will they immediately leave the page? Google interprets people leaving your site quickly as a sign that it was a mistake to show your site in their search.
If you want your content to be found, you want to make sure you fully understand the search intent before you start writing. What would a potential user want to see? Furthermore, make sure you include search intent when doing keyword research.
4. Adapt To Changing Consumer Behavior
There are two major consumer behavior shifts that are worth discussing. The first is the increasing number of hours spent consuming content on smartphones, and the second is the rise of alternatives to traditional blog posts such as vlogs or podcasts.
Google’s boosting of mobile-friendly sites is a clear indication that we should take these changes in consumer behavior seriously. If you’re worried that your site isn’t deemed mobile-friendly, you should check here.
With these new developments comes an audience that expects to find an increased variety of media in your content. Media includes photos, videos, audio files, gifs, slides (such as a presentation), surveys/polls, infographics, and so on.
Readers have shorter and shorter attention spans. Plain text will no longer be enough to hold attention; it’s likely we’ve already arrived at this point.
Give Viewers What They Want Now, Not 10 Years Ago
Your audience will want content that is highly visual and maybe even interactive. The benefits of including visuals in your content have been clear for a while, but a time will come when they will no longer be optional.
For many blogs, traffic primarily comes from mobile users and because of this, you may have to reconsider some of the traditional blog post formats. Neil Patel argues that writing long-form content is excellent for SEO purposes and I would suggest they keep some of those benefits (also, I wouldn’t dare disagree with Neil Patel),.
However, long bits of text are not that pleasant to read on a mobile screen and might therefore cause your audience to leave the page. With Google boosting content that meets your audience’s expectations and your audience looking for content that is increasingly visual, it might be time to rethink the strategy of generating longer and longer blog posts.
Longer does not always equal more productive.
I would consider the purpose of the article you’re writing. If the purpose of the article is to boost your site’s rankings by generating backlinks, you will want to write long-form content. If the aim is to attract mobile users, however, there might be more visually appealing alternatives.
5. Don’t Just Be A Blog; Be A Brand
In the real world, big companies are incredibly successful at marketing their brand. No matter where you look, whether it’s TV or different social media platforms, you are continuously bombarded by the big brands shoving their content in your face. Although the world does not need more advertising, these big companies are doing some things that we as bloggers can learn from. The takeaway is simple here: learn from and mimic what you see working.
It’s easier said than done, but the takeaway from these big companies is to turn your blog into a brand. Before you do anything, look at your current content. Is it consistent? Is it recognizable?
Keep in mind that branding is nothing but repetition, maybe of a certain aesthetic or tone. Your brand can be anything, as long as it is identifiable.
A good place to start would be using social media well. The aim here is brand recognition, so whenever you post something, stop worrying about getting likes and start focusing on branding and developing your brand’s identity and message.
Big brands use multiple media channels to promote their content and you should do the same. Why not use that extra content you have already made and use it to connect with your audience through multiple platforms.
For example, if you are already making visuals for your Instagram account, why not repurpose that content on Pinterest?
Besides just your blog, over time, you’ll be able to build and make money from a strong online social media presence, sending out automated emails, and so on.
Final Thoughts On The Future Of Blogging
Is your attention dead? Kidding, this blog post on the future of blogging was SO persuasive that I know no one here will ever tout “blogging is dead” again! Lame catchphrase retired.
Despite the intimidating nature of recent development, the future of blogging remains bright.
Yes, it’s scary… But to be honest what I’m really hearing is: “this is the time to take your brand to that next step you’ve been dreaming of!”
As always, I am here at Writing From Nowhere cheering you on.