You may have heard of a guy named Andy Crestodina. If you haven’t, I’m here to bring you up to speed before passing on Andy’s sage blog content wisdom.
Andy’s been offering digital marketing advice to well over a thousand businesses for 20+ years. Along the way, he’s written hundreds of thought leadership articles about everything from content strategy to SEO, from influencer marketing to conversion and analytics.
Andy is the co-founder and chief marketing officer of Orbit Media — and the author of ‘Content Chemistry: The Illustrated Handbook for Content Marketing.’ Forbes named him one of the “Top 10 Online Marketing Experts to Watch” and Entrepreneur Magazine included Crestodina in their “Top 50 Marketing Influencer” list.
I’ve been a fan of Andy’s ever since catching him at a conference a couple of years ago. He believes in the power of content marketing, as I do, and he encourages others to challenge themselves to elevate their content efforts and evolve with the times.
Orbit Media’s 2019 Annual Blogging Survey has been my security blanket these past few months, so I decided to see if Andy would be willing to expand upon this research and help us all level-up our blogging content strategy. Lucky us… he agreed.
Andy Crestodina explains how to keep your blog relevant and successful:
Why is an organization’s blog still a channel worth investing in?
I’m going to start my answer with a few questions…
- Why would anyone pay attention to your brand?
- How do you demonstrate your expertise?
- How will you ever get your service pages to rank if you don’t have content worth linking to?
- Why would anyone give you an email address?
- How do you share your best answers to your prospect’s top questions?
- Is your website simply an online brochure?
If the answer to that last question is “yes,” then you are the proud owner of a fancy online ad. A digital business card. There is probably no reason to visit your site except to get basic contact information or to confirm your services.
But if you invest your time in content, if you share your expertise, then your website has something to learn from, link to, subscribe to and share. Your advice and expertise can travel via search, social, email and word-of-mouth.
If you’re still skeptical, I recommend trying any of the following:
- Search for the services you offer. Who ranks? Who’s winning the traffic and leading the charge to generate leads?
- Pause your advertising. What happened? Are you suddenly invisible?
- Check out the Analytics account of a mature content marketing program. Mine is down below. Keep in mind, this account has no advertising. To the contrary, our marketing generates revenue (book sales and event registrations)… roughly 1M+ visitors and 500+ qualified leads per year.
What is your definition of a blog?
'Your blog doesn’t sell. It teaches. The call-to-action isn’t 'contact us'... it's 'subscribe.' Your blog is the magazine. It’s the mini-version of Wikipedia for your industry.' — Andy Crestodina @crestodina @orbiteers Click To Tweet
A blog is the helpful and useful section of your site, filled with articles, advice, and answers. It doesn’t sell. It teaches. The call to action isn’t “contact us.” It’s “subscribe.”
It’s the magazine. It’s the mini-version of Wikipedia for your industry. It’s the news, opinion, and how-to. As I just said, without sharing your expertise through blog content, your website is simply a brochure.
How has blogging evolved over the past five years?
Blogs are bigger. Year after year, the length of the average blog post grows.
Five years ago, the majority of bloggers wrote short posts of 1,000 words or less. Today, the average blog post is 1,236 words. Every year, a greater percentage of bloggers report routinely writing 2,000+ words articles.
Other changes? Bloggers are using more video, more images, more research, more collaboration. Blogs are becoming more sophisticated and the process for creating them involves more use of editors and data.
The average blog post takes 3 hours and 57 minutes to create… what should be happening during that time so quality content is the final product?
Assuming that the writer knows the topic and doesn’t need to do a ton of research, then the time will go mostly to writing, editing, and images.
The image prep time might be a surprise to some bloggers, but the best content is visual. Here’s a breakdown of my time that I included in my breakdown of how to write a blog post. Preparing images was about 30 percent of the time!
Other items that may be less obvious:
- Keyphrase research… done upfront while writing early draft headlines.
- Contributor outreach… done throughout for sections that need support.
- Semantic SEO… done at the end, to confirm that the article includes the related phrases and subtopics.
- Writing tons more headline options… so you have things to choose from for subject lines, title tags, and social posts.
You can imagine how fast time flies during the process. Four hours? A lot of us spend 6-8 hours on a typical piece.
Does publishing frequency matter — and what is the sweet spot for blogs in 2020?
High-frequency blogs are on the decline. We know from the survey that more bloggers are now in the several-per-month pace than the several-per-week pace. That wasn’t true five years ago.
'Tune #blogging frequency to your buying interval and sales cycle. You don’t need a daily blog to stay top of mind. But for serious #content programs, monthly is the minimum.' — Andy Crestodina @crestodina @orbiteers Click To Tweet
We also know from the data that blogging more often correlates with better results. But my personal take is that you really don’t need to be an ultra-high frequency blogger to meet your goals.
I’m a B2B marketer. People take a month or more to decide if they want to hire us. And they only need our services (web design) once every 3-4 years. So why do I need a weekly blog? I’ve been bi-weekly for the last 10 years and I’m meeting every one of my goals.
Tune your frequency to your buying interval and sales cycle. You don’t need a daily blog to stay top of mind. But for serious content programs, monthly is the minimum.
What are high performers doing right to achieve strong results?
High-performing content marketers use data to decide what to do after publishing. They audit their content to learn what the best opportunity is for each piece. Different content has different advantages, depending on how it’s performing:
- Traffic champions are getting a lot of traffic.
- Potential champions are on the edge of greatness.
- Falling stars are the articles that were getting traction, but are starting to decline.
- Better mousetraps are the articles with the highest conversion rates.
This image shows what to do with each type of article. Once you’re making decisions based on data, you’re playing at a level above most digital marketers.
Will blogging and SEO ever die? Or, will content marketers blog from Mars one day?
Fun question. I was at a search marketing conference earlier this year and I asked a bunch of the speakers this question. The answers were great. Take a look!
Bottom line: Yes, we’ll be blogging from Mars and optimizing our content to rank for our fellow astronauts. No doubt!