Are blogs dead in 2017?

Every year, there's a new gaggle of marketers that proclaim that blogging is dead. And if you're looking at blogging as it has been in the past, then yes -- blogging is dead. 

Blog trends have greatly changed in the past few years, and this year will be no different. Blogs are still relevant, they're just evolving. With the methods of content creation changing, the role of blogs has changed. Content creation is no longer just writing -- it’s been largely invaded by social media. Today's content creation is writing, imagery, photography, and videography, all easy to create and share. 

Sure, the landscape has changed, but that doesn’t mean that you’re out of luck if you’re a blogger, or aspiring to be. In face, blogs today are just as important as they have ever been. It's just the strategies that have changed. 

So don't panic -- today we'll be taking a look at blogging, its future, and its role in your 2017 marketing strategy. 

Blogs for personal branding

Personal branding is where new platforms for content creation have caused the most change. Where before you'd start a fashion or a politics blog, you might take to social media to grow a following. In this respect, the blogging environment has changed.

Now, instead of worrying about building your personal brand through a blog, you can simply build an organic following for fashion, politics, cooking, fitness, or anything else. Aspiring influencers are no longer limited to a written blog, no longer hindered by your creative writing ability. 

This is one of the great changes of blogging in 2017. Where before building an organic following was constricted to writers, it's now much easier.  Now, people are able to build a following for their photography, their drawings, and their video. 

It’s a matter of deciding what you want to do, and building an identity and content around that. You’ll find yourself less limited, and competing with a different crowd than if you were trying to build up a blog. 

That doesn’t mean, though, that blogs and blog writing are dead, or relegated to a smaller part of web users. No -- in fact, this filtering of content creation has allowed for blogs to evolve and develop into an important part of the web, that you can take advantage of in 2017.

Blogging for business in 2017

While we see content getting shorter and shorter on the consumer side, blogs and the blog writing process have just gotten longer and longer.

Indeed. It's important to have a social media presence, if that's where your customers are. But blogging is still one of the most useful investments of time and money for a business, especially if that business has a stake in a strong online presence. 

As a content marketing company, we preach the importance of a strong content strategy all day and all night. Blogs are indispensable for SEO and organic traffic, but they’re important for other reasons as well. Blogging is one of the most effective ways to organically build your brand and following, as well as build up a library of work to repurpose in social media and email campaigns. 

Blogs also have the most staying power, because it's content that lives on your site and is controlled wholly by you. Once you’ve managed to build a loyal readership, traffic and reach will not be beholden to an outside platform -- you won’t have to worry about things like Facebook algorithm changes or Twitter feed updates.

New challenges in the blogging landscape

It's not all blue skies, though. As the internet and Google have matured, blogging has become much more competitive.

Writers are spending more time writing content, because the only way to truly shine with content is to create amazing and unique stuff. The internet, as it is now, is a library for content for humans, with robot librarians. Today, in 2017, building a blog is a balance between creating content that is useful and interesting to humans, but written in a way that robots can understand and organize it. 

For this reason, blogging and content strategy are imperative for a web presence and to be found on Google, but will only really work if you offer high-quality stuff. 

Notably, people’s eyes are getting better at spotting quality -- and their noses are getting better at sniffing out BS. 

This means that Google puts more weight on content’s length, depth, content, and context -- instead of just content, as has been the case in the past. 

Technical changes for 2017

Behavioral changes aside, recent years have brought technical changes to Google -- and consequently, content marketing in general. Though they're not the kind of thing for you to completely reevaluate for, they are important and you'll find yourself ahead of the curve if you plan for them. 

AMP, Accelerated Mobile Pages

AMP is an open-source project backed by Google. Basically, it's a framework that allows and encourages developers to build pages that load quickly. 

Implementing AMP takes some hands-on work, though if you use WordPress you'll find AMP plugins. AMP is important because it is favored by Google in mobile search results -- if your page has implemented AMP then it's a guarantee to Google that it will load quickly and is optimized for mobile, and will be rewarded in search results. 

Mobile-first

Mobile-first is a design approach. It is, for web developers, the idea of planning a website or web app first for mobile, and then elaborating the design for desktop.

Though any web developer worth her salt will know this, it's important for marketers to know too. After all, when components of a marketing campaign are optimized for mobile, they're more likely to look great on all screens, and more likely to rank and drive traffic. 

Voice search

Voice search is something that starting infiltrating conversations in 2016, largely due to the growth of voice products like Amazon's Alexa, Apple's Siri and Google's voice assistant. 

The premise here is that where someone may type into Google "best sushi nyc," the corresponding voice search would be "Where is the best sushi in New York City?". These queries, though asking for the same thing, are different enough semantically to warrant different keyword targeting strategies. 

Voice search is important in blogging in 2017 because voice search is quickly growing, but search companies (like Google) haven't quite figured out how to adapt and respond. For you and your blog, this isn't an action item -- but is something to keep on your radar.

Over to you

Blogging is not dead, it's not gone, and it's not going anywhere anytime soon.

For an aspiring influencer,  blogging has changed and today is an opportunity to deepend a brand built on social media. For marketers though, blogging is more important than it has ever been. It's a way for your brand to build out a library of proprietary information, provide value to current and potential customers, and draw in organic traffic. 

And finally, for small business marketers who grapple with digital marketing as a showdown between social media and owned media, I leave you with this:

Buyer intent doesn't live on social, it lives on Google. 

Blogging is not dead in 2017 -- in fact, it can be your most solid investment. But don't underestimate what a good blog and content strategy can take. Know the importance of your blog, and build it out.