Changes to the Blogosphere and its Impacts on Content Marketing
Blogs have long been a fantastic source of inspiration, guidance, and exclusives when it comes to an array of industries, including fashion, beauty, travel and lifestyle.
If we take a look back over the last ten years, blogging has significantly shaped content marketing and in a sense, aided key components of content strategies. In the earlier days of my SEO career, content campaigns often involved the involvement of bloggers. We’d contact bloggers that hit criteria set by our clients, gifting them with either pre-selected items or gift vouchers. This often led to great quality posts with links (no-follow of, course), from which we would see and attribute an increase in sessions, users, revenue, and rankings.
As time went on, bloggers became increasingly clued up on SEO, and the value they provided which was being translated into rate cards. The most expensive asking for thousands per post. Domain authority, referral sessions, and interactions were no longer just languages spoken between digital marketers to measure performance, but also a major conversation between digital influencers. Bloggers aim to create content their audience will enjoy, and SEO’s want high-quality coverage that didn’t scream advertisement.
Social Media Effects
Fast forward a few years to the rise of social media platforms such as Snapchat, Instagram, and YouTube. Quickly understood to be great channels to access the masses, fast. The problem? These channels offer no or very small SEO value. With their increase in popularity and brand/ PR teams focussing their spend across these channels, naturally, influencers began to turn their attention.
With the incline of Instagram, YouTube, and Snapchat, blogging has naturally seen a decline. We witnessed bloggers we worked with on a regular basis who on average posted a few times a week, now considering their blog as a secondary asset to their social channels. But what does this all mean in the grand scheme of content marketing? It means we have to reassess link building, and even our campaign KPI’s.
Digital PR Strategies
One thing that has become evident in the changing landscape, is the lines between SEO and digital PR are blurring significantly. Where bloggers are becoming increasingly expensive, SEO’s have been turning to digital PR tactics such as outreaching to top-tier newspapers in the hope of backlinks.
After discussions with multiple friends in the PR and Journalism industry, it became apparent that often, journalists are reluctant to provide backlinks. Even after flicking through prospected sites, backlinks within branded content appeared few and far inbetween.
Reason being, some journalists view links as a means of advertisement and a contradiction to their role. A journalists job, after all, is to research and write (in their own opinion) stories that are of public interest. Links can be interpreted as commercialised promotion and disingenuous on news sites.
So, where do we go from here as SEO’s?
Place the same emphasis on other KPI’s
There have been suggestions of the prominence of links in future digital campaigns declining. In my opinion, links aren’t disappearing anytime soon and will continue to be a major performance metric in 2019. Until that shift comes along (given the current climate of acquiring backlinks), or Google begins to rank on merit as it does links (we can hope), additional KPI’s such as visits, bounce rate, time spent on page, new users and interactions should be as key to campaigns as links are, and communicated to clients. As these also significantly impact search engine performance.
If we want to guarantee links, blogs are still a great bet. Bloggers are experts on their audience and content creation. Working relationships with bloggers from my experience have been very transparent and mutually beneficial. They are passionate about producing content that will resonate with their audience, and we as SEO’s want to see our clients featured in high-quality content pieces/ sites with the inclusion of backlinks. The more we pick up our relationships with them, the harder they’ll work with us. I’d even go as far to say, the SEO industry could reignite blogging.
Coverage in high tier news source will lead to an increase in SOV, searches, visits etc. which are all positive ranking signals. When asking journalists for links, we have to bear in mind they have no obligation to include this, although it is worth every effort.
Some of my favourite campaigns and best in my opinon integrate multiple channels. When channels such as email, social, and in-store promotion are also integrated into an SEO content campaign, as an agency we’ve seen an amplification in results, often exceeding expectations. Often also proving beneficial to the other channels involved.