In marketing, it has been said time and time again that content is king. Compelling, well-written and insightful content is a core component of search engine optimization, and companies are striving to provide their customers with the most relevant and timely material within their industries. The nature of a blog—its living, breathing, ever-changing dynamic—has enabled other industries to foray into the publishing world and even compete with news outlets.
Small businesses are turning to blogs as a way to maximize their SEO campaigns by capturing keywords amid fresh and insightful content. That means that smaller companies can now compete against much larger brands in the cluttered Web, proving their worthiness and establishing thought leadership with informative, regular blog updates. And, with the constant evolution of Google's search algorithm, freshness or frequently updated content is going to continue to be a driving force in SEO, making blogs even more vital for small businesses.
Case in point: Companies like Unbounce have created a following with clients and industry insiders alike, providing them with helpful, share-worthy information that is hard to find elsewhere. This small company has become a leader within its industry, in part due to the success of their blog.
According to David Howard, a social media consultant for Consultiq, a San Francisco Bay Area marketing agency, blogging brings a different format to the otherwise mainstream news culture. "Blogging brings a more relaxed style and often allows the blogger to speak truths or challenge public figures, celebrities, etc. in ways that journalists can’t,” says Howard. To some extent, it’s the exact nature of a blog’s format that produces challenges within the industry.
Credibility in question
Since it’s easy for anyone to become a blogger, their credibility is often questioned despite the fact that some are experienced and trained journalists who also write for reliable news organizations. In addition, many long-standing publications like The New York Times host their own blogs, allowing their writers a little more creative freedom. “The real-time nature of the blogs, electronic publication, automatic, immediate feedback via comments, has come a long way from the cycle of the printed daily or weekly. I think this allows bloggers some latitude to be less balanced on an article basis,” Howard says.
The downside: Many bloggers report what is true to them. Their political views or personal opinions are often easy to spot within their posts. Many bloggers have been on the firing lines for being too opinionated or sensationalistic. “High profile bloggers can be too bombastic, and that turns people off. Many bloggers could stand to turn down the rhetoric a bit, and resist spinning the smallest issues into something bigger than it is,” notes Howard.
Howard believes bloggers should reduce exaggerations and “the spin and mischaracterization” of viewpoints in order for the industry as a whole to become more credible. “But at least with bloggers, you generally know where their biases are. With big-J journalism, it's harder to tell. And I believe there is bias in mainstream 'objective' journalism, if not in any given story, but in other aspects like story selection, what gets covered, what doesn't,” Howard adds.
“Technology and social mores will continue to develop and further enable user-generated content like blogging. The very informal blogs may peter out, as any amateur blogger has found that it's hard to keep content current, and it doesn't pay well relative to the time it takes. Higher profile blogs that can earn substantial revenue will continue, alongside traditional news media sources,” Howard says.
Angela Stringfellow is a PR, MarComm Consultant and social media strategist offering full-circle marketing solutions to businesses. Angela blogs via Contently.com.
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