About two years ago, Didit examined a topic that’s still much on the minds of digital marketers today: are blogs still important?
Do these trusty, time-tested publishing vehicles matter in an era in which corporate blogging appears to be declining, social media traffic is rising, and more commercial enterprises – especially “Mom & Pop” businesses – seem to be considering a “social media only” approach to digital marketing?
While certainly a lot has changed in digital marketing in the past two years, no developments in the industry have dissuaded us from our original conclusion: business blogs matter. And, as we put it two years ago, “the idea that a transient social media outpost can substitute for a website is very dangerous.”
In other words, if you intend to make any headway in digital marketing, you must resist the siren call of a “social only” strategy and do the hard work of maintaining an excellent, attractive blog operating on your own domain.
1. Ensures against unanticipated future reach reductions which may be undertaken by private social networks – at any time – in order to meet their monetization goals.
2. Gives you the flexibility to publish any kind of content you choose, irrespective of changing content rules governing the composition of content on private social networks.
3. Provides an operationally sound, simple publishing model we call “hub and spoke” in which your domain/blog serves as the centralized hub of all of your promotional efforts, both on- and offline.
4. Is conducive to a sane, sound SEO strategy focused on directing inbound links (and the accumulating PageRank that results) to your own properties, not those belonging to third parties, be they review sites, social networks, or others.
In fact, two of the biggest transformations that digital marketing has undergone in the past 24 months have reinforced our original position.
Marketers who went “all in” on Facebook have suffered far more than those who simply used Facebook as a replaceable distribution channel.
1. Facebook’s throttling of organic reach, which has accelerated in the past 24 months and has radically reduced the ability of marketers to reach the communities they’ve built on this network without paying for the privilege. Marketers who went “all in” on Facebook (including adding Facebook’s URLs in their marketing collateral in lieu of their own domains) have suffered far more than those who simply used Facebook as a replaceable distribution channel in a diversified social portfolio strategy.
2. Google’s abolition of the right rail ad space on its results pages. This space reduction – undertaken in early 2016 – has made SEO rankings more competitive, giving advantage to those marketers whose past investments in SEO have passed to their own domains instead of domains (such as private social networks) that they do not own or control.
As we observed back in 2014,
“Social media and micro-blogging has its place in the Web marketing mix. Social media gives you a great way to acquire customers, participate in relevant business conversations, amplify your voice, and extend the reach of your online publishing efforts. You should have an active presence on Twitter, Facebook, and the other platforms, if for no other reason than your competition is likely there. But don’t make the mistake of building your Web marketing castle on somebody else’s land (there’s actually a term for this; it’s called “digital sharecropping”).”
You should have an active presence on Twitter, Facebook, and the other platforms, But don’t make the mistake of building your Web marketing castle on somebody else’s land.
“Social networks will come and go, and there will always be another “shiny object” to hypnotize the technorati. But don’t listen to their siren call. Instead, take control of your online publishing destiny and build a home for your content that’s strong, enduring, and firmly under your control.”
Nothing that’s happened in the past 24 months has done anything to cause us to step away from this statement. Business blogs will continue to be keystone elements in sustainable digital marketing campaigns, in 2016 and beyond, and marketers need to continue to guard themselves against the overly optimistic, and often flat wrong, blandishments of self-described experts who can’t – or won’t – see the big picture.