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Top Blogging Trends: Longer, Fresher Content & More Images [PODCAST]

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Brent Csutoras
Brent Csutoras SEJ STAFF
Top Blogging Trends: Longer, Fresher Content & More Images [PODCAST]

Out of all the content marketing techniques being applied today, B2B marketers consider blogging as the top content marketing tactic that’s most critical to overall content marketing success.

A lot has changed since the advent of blogging in the mid-1990s.

Yet, the most welcome shift is that 70 percent of marketers prioritize delivering content quality over quantity.

To help us make informed decisions on our overall strategy this 2018, it is important to keep up with the latest trends in content marketing.

In this episode of Search Engine Nerds, I interviewed Andy Crestodina about the latest blogging statistics and trends.

Crestodina, co-founder and CMO at Orbit Media, initiated his agency’s Annual Blogger Survey, which is now on its fourth year. He also shares the highlights of the survey that was participated by 1,000+ bloggers.

man-blogging

What was the inspiration for doing Orbit Media’s Blogger Survey?

Andy Crestodina (AC): It actually comes from a pretty cool content hack, and it’s the idea that in every industry there are missing statistics, which are basically the things that people often say but never really support with data. So in our world, it’s like blogging takes time, and everyone says, “Blogging takes time…” but how much time does it take to create a blog post?

That data wasn’t really out there. It’s sort of like an information gap, so we basically just calculated a little bit of statistical relevance and found that we needed to ask 1,000 people how long it took them to write a blog post before we could publish something that was at all credible, and came up with a number.

So this is the fourth year. We just published it again. And yeah, it’s original research, it’s an awesome format for content, and it just answers tons of questions about the process of blogging.

Does longer content equal better? And if so, what do you think is the reason for that?

AC: The trend is definitely longer. In 2014, the average blog post according to the survey data was 808 words. By 2017, it’s up to 1,142 words, so it’s gone up 40 percent.

One of the questions in the survey is, “Do you get strong results or no results from your blogging?”

Then we can correlate the length of blog post to self-reported strong results. And the answer is definitely that people who write longer, like 2,000+ words, are much, much more likely to report strong results from their blogging. Now, of course, that’s based on whatever their own measurement is.

The surveys all sort of paint the same picture: people who put more into it get better results, which isn’t a very big surprise.

Do you have any advice or ideas on how somebody can go about expanding a concept or an idea to make it longer, without being fluffed?

Fluff is the enemy. We want to remove fluff. We don’t want a 1,000-word article fluffed up to 1,500 words. We want a 2,000-word article trimmed down, like edit it with a scalpel, with really condensed and concise insights.

So, if you’re looking just to cover the topic in a more thorough, exhaustive way, there are so many places where you can find more things that people wonder [about], more questions people ask, more needs for that information.

While doing keyphrase research, or at any point during your process, you’re researching the topic, Google is telling you what the related questions/searches are.

All those things are evidence that the related topics are semantically connected within Google.

Definitely just:

  • Look for the clues for the subtopics, see how those fit in. If it works, then put them in.
  • Be tight about the whole thing.
  • Keep it flowing.
  • Edit it down.
  • End with a bang.
  • Just choose a bigger topic.
  • Don’t make it any longer than it needs to be.

If you’re serious about making the best page on the internet for whatever you’re writing about – which is the job in SEO, to make the best page on the internet – then you should be really just thinking about it from more different angles.

Do you think there’s value in looking at the top search results to see what components in similar ranked content is showing?

Myself, I don’t really do that as much. I’m trying to make something so original that I never start by just scraping through, or sifting through the high ranking stuff.

But one thing that I do a lot of, is I look at the suggested search terms. Keywordtool.io is one of those tools that scrapes Google [Autocomplete] to find all the related stuff.

I will frequently do that because that’s going to show me all the other questions, or all the related phrases, and I use that as sources for the demand, not the supply. I want to see what people need, not what everyone else is offering.

Brent Csutoras (BC): One of the other things that I’ve done is I’ll typically go knowing what topic I’m talking about, and I’ll search for known experts, send them a copy of the article, and ask them if they would like to contribute a paragraph or a quote, or if I’m missing something they feel like I should be covering.

A lot of times I’ll get responses back… Not only does it help in making the content more authoritative, or having the element of the vanity clause, where you are going to get more promotion because you have the people that are included, but I think it also gives a great opportunity to learn where you’re missing some angles that could be expanded on as well.

AC: That’s my favorite tactic – collaboration. We’re doing it right now. It’s great for your network, it’s more fun. The quality of the content just spikes as soon as you get an expert, too.

How do you find images?

One of the things I like about this finding is that there’s a pretty good spike in multiple images…

People are putting in multiple images, which to me I love because the idea is not that each article gets an image, but you want to have something of visual interest at every scroll depth.

If you’re writing 1,500 words, you got a lot of scroll depth there, so how do you put something interesting every 800 pixels?

It keeps a visitor flowing. Words are desert and images are water, so it give your readers a sip.

For me, it’s easy to do because I’m doing how-to posts and they have lots of technical writing – like your teaching things. There’s lots of opportunity for screenshots, charts, graphs, and things that build a case. Meaningful images, images that tell the story, where you show. It’s show, don’t tell.

I have a design team, so they help create these things. I do lots of sketches. I use Snagit, which I highly recommend, where you do markup on screenshots.

What did you find the most interesting in the study and why?

There’s a question we asked this year that we had never asked before which is, “Are you updating older articles?”

What we found is that most bloggers, 55 percent reported they do have, as part of their strategy, an approach of updating older stuff. Wow.

That to me is a game changer, and it reminds me of this Bruce Lee quote I like to mention in presentations. He once said, “I fear not the man who’s practiced 10,000 kicks. I fear the man who’s practiced one kick 10,000 times.”

It’s this idea that maybe you don’t need 1,000 articles. Maybe you need 100 really great articles.

There might be a greater value in:

  • Going back and recycling an old URL that already has some authority
  • Just updating an older post – finding that thing that already ranked high in Page 2 and just improving it.

Going deeper, getting contributor quotes, making it better.

This is one of my top tactics now, and it’s a huge thing I’m doing. Major value.

How do you pick which content you’re refreshing?

This is probably the best SEO approach that I know of. If you’d go to Google Analytics > Acquisition > Search Console > Queries. Go to your Queries Report and apply an advanced filter to show just the rows where the average position is greater than 10. Analytics will show you every phrase for which you rank high on Page 2.

Update the articles that are within striking distance. That’s the lowest hanging fruit in all of your marketing.

To listen to this Search Engine Nerds Podcast with Andy Crestodina:

Think you have what it takes to be a Search Engine Nerd? If so, message Loren Baker on Twitter, or email him at loren [at] searchenginejournal.com. You can also email Brent Csutoras at brent [at] alphabrandmedia.com.

Visit our Search Engine Nerds archive to listen to other Search Engine Nerds podcasts!


Image Credits
Featured Image: Paulo Bobita

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Brent Csutoras

Chief Marketing Officer at PeakActivity

Chief Marketing Officer at PeakActivity and Managing Partner at Search Engine Journal. Brent has over 10 years experience in Social ... [Read full bio]

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