Ever since the days of Aristotle and the great philosophers of yore, mankind has been consumed with a simple yet baffling question, one that threatens his very sanity. That question, of course, is “are blogs dead?”
The blog, or weblog, has been around for about two decades. That’s a minor eternity in the Internet age, and the term blog has been a flashpoint since the beginning. There are still some who cling to the idea that blogs are written by Cheeto dust-stained losers in their parents’ basements, but the form has mostly gone mainstream. It has remained divisive, though, and it seems you can’t throw a rock without hitting a take about the impending demise of the form.
Given that we are open advocates for blogs with our inbound marketing clients, and that we maintain an active (and we may be biased, but brilliant) blog on the Raka site, you can probably guess where we stand. Still, let’s examine five reasons the Internet thinks blogs are dead, and why every one of those reasons is wrong.
#1: Video is taking over!
There is a large grain of truth here. Video is more popular than it has ever been before, with outlets like Inc. predicting that close to three-quarters of all web traffic will be video by 2018. Video is everywhere, and video is the future.
But. The truth is that most people are watching video without sound. The truth is that those numbers are a little cute, given that many people wind up consuming video that is posted on article pages or enterprise websites. And the truth is that you can incorporate video into your blog, or even make your blog primarily video if you have the staff and savvy to make that happen.
#2: Nobody reads anymore!
Like most of the items on this list, there’s some truth here. Studies have found that as many as 60% of social links are shared without ever being clicked. That means your carefully crafted blog post is getting no more than a cursory glance from many, and probably a half-read from many others.
That seems discouraging, but the truth is that you still need these blog posts for the audience that does read and does care. Even for those who don’t, a particularly well-written headline may get passed around widely enough that those numbers don’t matter. Like any other form of marketing, you’re not counting on 100% of those who encounter your blog posts to convert to leads.
Instead of viewing short attention spans as an obstacle, challenge yourself to come up with compelling headlines and great introductions that hook readers. It can pay off in a major way with the changing reading habits of your audience. And hey, if you’re reading this, blogs must still work!
#3: SEO has changed!
This is true! We’re no longer stuffing keywords into our blog posts like they are an informative Thanksgiving turkey. We’re no longer sneakily populating metadata with dozens of terms we want to rank for. And short-form, stilted blog posts are on their way out.
This is actually all an argument for blogs, not one against them. Google has tried very hard to ensure that the kind of blog content that ranks is legitimately valuable, informative content. If you’re able to tee that up and optimize it, you’re ahead of any of your competitors who are just going through the motions. You simply need to work harder and target your audiences better.
#4: Social media Is everything!
See point #2 above. It’s true that people live on the social platforms of their choice, be they Facebook, YouTube, or Snapchat. Many social media links aren’t clicked, but there’s enough volume that social media can be a reliable driver of traffic.
The idea that social media is taking the place of blog posts, however, is an absurd one. Social media is the place people go to discuss the buzzworthy news that’s happening, to give their opinions on popular topics, and to chat with others. But they’re not ingesting 140-character news morsels and walking away completely satisfied. They follow the links or the discussion down a rabbit hole that leads them to blog posts and articles, and as Gary Vaynerchuk has said, social is simply the best way to drive people to your blog.
Here’s the bottom line: Without blog posts, how are you getting people to go to your website and convert from social media? Nobody’s clicking through to your services page or to learn more about your team, in all likelihood, which means that fresh content is still the best way to get your audience from Point A to Point Website.
#5: Blog posts get lost in the ether!
With so many marketers blogging, how can you possibly stand out? This is a question we get asked a lot when clients are dipping their toes into blogging, and it’s a fair one.
As Blog Tyrant notes in this insightful blog post, searches for “blogging” have declined in recent years, but the actual number of blog posts has been rising for a long time. The result is a flooded landscape, but more importantly, a fractured one. Your audience has never had an easier time finding what they’re actually looking for, which means your tightly focused content has an easier time reaching that audience. That means less hoping and wishing and more effective content planning in your space, and again, that’s a net positive.
So are blogs dead? No, they are not. With the possibilities afforded by live video, an ever-growing international audience, and creative spins on the form, blogging will endure for many years to come.