2018 Blogging Research: How Does Your Blog Compare To The Best

2018 Blogging ResearchDo you know how your blog compares to the best-in-class blogs?

Not sure?

Don’t worry–Orbit Media Studio’s 2018 Blogging Survey provides the information to determine how your blog measures up against the top performing blogs.

More importantly, it reveals that blog post quality and blog post frequency have emerged as the drivers of improved results.

Orbit Media’s Blogging Survey set out to answer these questions:

  • How long does a typical blog post take to write?
  • What is the length of the average blog post?
  • How often do bloggers publish blog posts?

Since it’s difficult to assess blog post quality these answers act as a reasonable proxy.

So dive into this analysis of the 2018 Blogging Research to learn how to beat the best bloggers and get better blog results.

 

2018 Blogging Research Data To Improve Your Results

 

1. Average Time to Write A Blog Post

The average blogger spent 3 hours 28 minutes writing a blog post in 2018 according to Orbit Media’s 2018 Blogging Survey.Click To Tweet

Time to write a blog post Chart via Orbit Media Studios

Deeper examination shows that 13% of bloggers invest more than 6 hours in their blog content creation.

Time to create a blog post by category – Chart via Orbit Media Studios

As you’d expect, the increased investment in content creation yields superior results. Specifically 56% of this segment is more likely to get stronger results.

Time invested vs. reported results

2. Average Blog Post Length

At an average length of 1,152 words the blog content has reach the Goldilocks point, not too short and not too long. Click To Tweet

 

But 8% of bloggers stand out by writing in-depth 2,000+ word posts. 

Since these long, detailed blog posts require time and resources, only one in ten bloggers craft them.

2018 Blogging Research - Orbit Media Studios Chart

Blog Post Length Measured in Words – Chart via Orbit Media Studios

But their creation investment pays off—since half of these bloggers report strong results.

2018 Blogging Research - Orbit Media Studios

Blog post word and strong results. Chart via Orbit Media Studios

Further, while the number of words stayed constant, bloggers enhance their posts with other forms of content.

 

3. Blog Post Publication Frequency

 

Before creating fewer, in-depth blog posts, understand that consistent blog post publication also yields strong results.

Only 2 out of 5 bloggers publish at least one post per week according to 2018 Blogging Research. The biggest falloff in post publication occurred among bloggers posting multiple times per week based on the 2018 Blogging Research.

But surprisingly, 1 in 5 bloggers now publishes less than one post per month! At this rate, no one thinks about your blog content.

2018 Blogging Research-Post Frequency

Blog post publishing frequency chart via Orbit Media Studios 

As a blog publisher, develop Share Of Audience Attention (or SOAA). To accomplish this provide consistent content by publishing at least one post per week. As a result, your blog becomes part of your audience’s weekly content consumption habit.

While researching his book, Known, Mark Schaefer found that people mentioned consistent content publication over time as the biggest factor leading to recognition. Translation: Publish blog posts regularly!

Similarly, Rand Fishkin recognized publishing consistency as a key factor to drive blog traffic over time. For example, the traffic from his wife’s blog, The Everywherist, didn’t take off until after the 500th blog post.

Example of Blog Longevity – The Everywherist Chart

But most bloggers give up before reaching a sufficient base of articles!

For comparison, examine Hubspot’s 2015 blog post benchmark data:

  • 16+ posts per month yields 3.5X more traffic than companies publishing 0-4 posts per month.
  • With 400+ posts companies generate 2X the traffic as those with 0-100 posts.

    Hubspot Blog Benchmark Data 2015

    Impact of the total number of blog posts on inbound traffic – Chart via Hubspot

 

How To Compare To The Best Blogs: Blog Post Quality VS Blog Post Frequency

 

As the 2018 Blogging Research reveals, bloggers need both blog post quality and post publication frequency to yield optimal results. These two approaches both require resources making the tradeoff difficult.

For example, Mobile Monkey’s Larry Kim has honed his blogging skills over time while amassing large social media followings across platforms. While many of his articles attract hundreds of shares—numbers many of us only wish for—only 8 out of Kim’s 300 articles published in 2017 drove significantly higher unicorn level results. Here’s an example.

Example of one of Larry Kim’s Unicorn Posts

Don’t get sidetracked into thinking that you only need 8 posts.

Rather understand that only a small fraction of your blog posts will hit a sweetspot with your audience and beyond. But without writing lots of posts like Kim, you’ll never find your rare unicorn posts.

Therefore, to maximize your blogging success, take advantage of high performing posts by increasing your related promotion and content opportunities.

  • Fuel social media distribution and add paid promotion. Keep your post visible.
  • Create related blog posts and guest content. Write content addressing the topic from another point of view or tailored to another audience. Also add related posts to keep interest in the topic going.
  • Extend your content into other formats such as presentations, video and webinars.

Supporting Kim’s findings, BuzzSumo’s 2018 Content Trends Research found that the average content marketing article attracted 4 social shares in 2017. And, in their 100 million article sample, the median number of backlinks to an article was zero!  (BTW–Here’s the full analysis of the 2018 Content Trends Research.)

Content Distribution Fails via social media shares

2018 Content Marketing Social Media Shares chart by BuzzSumo.

 

5 Actionable Blogging Tactics To Improve Your Blog Post Quality And Frequency

To support improved blog post quality while maintaining regular publishing frequency, here are 5 actionable blogging tactics.

 

1. Add Different Content Formats To Your Blog

Use your blog to deliver a variety of content formats, not just text!

  • 54% of bloggers use more than 1 image or photograph. This number should be 100% since images aid readability. Further, Google photos are the second biggest search engine according to Sparktoro.

    2018 Search Market Share Chart via Sparktoro

  • 49% of bloggers incorporate lists. Lists provide easy-to-share crowd pleaser content.
  • 19% of bloggers include video. While video provides a human face for your blog content, it requires different skills. Andy Crestodina recommends adding a short video to increase your content’s sharability.
  • 4% of bloggers add audio or podcasts. Despite the appeal of audio content especially for drive time and background noise, podcasting usage remains lower than text.
2018 Blogging Research - Chart

Different Types of Content Used By Bloggers – Chart via Orbit Media Studios

At a minimum, use your blog as another distribution channel for video and audio.

Further, video and audio yield better blog results since they hook your readers into clicking through and consuming this content.

Use of different content formats improves blogging results – Chart via Orbit Media Studios

For example, Mike Stelzner posts his Friday podcasts on Social Media Examiner. In addition to creating a special image, he includes excerpts from the podcast along with images and notes related to the products that are mentioned.

Custom visuals for Mike Stelzner’s Weekly Podcast

Example of Podcast notes from Social Media Examiner

Actionable Blogging Tips:

  • Add a transcript of the content to support organic search. For example, Moz includes a text of the video content with their Whiteboard Fridays.
  • Test adding different content formats to your blog posts. Brian Dean calls them content upgrades. By providing additional utility for your audience they give readers a reason to share their email with you.

 

2. Establish a Formal Editorial Process

To increase blog post quality bloggers use professional editors.

25% of bloggers have a formal editor. 

2018 Blogging Research - Editorial Process

How bloggers edit their work – Chart via Orbit Media Studios

Beyond checking correct language usage a formal editorial process provides content marketing support.

  • Ensures consistent branding and voice so that your blog stands out regardless of the context in which the content appears.
  • Supports internal blog curation. A good editorial process spotlights related articles of interest.
  • Ensures focus on keywords and related optimization.

Actionable Content Marketing Tips:

  • Document your branding guidelines for your blog and other content marketing. Also define your company’s voice and language usage. BTW–Here’s how to brand your blog.
  • Test peer review. Get coworkers to check each other’s work.

 

3. Create regular or recurring columns

To support increased blog post frequency add regular or recurring columns to your blog content mix.

Borrowed from traditional magazines and newspapers, recurring columns share these 5 attributes:

  • Focus on a specific topic.
  • Have a defined content structure. This helps blog post creation. For example, my ClickZ Actionable Analytics columns consisted of a hook to introduce the topic, an explanation of the marketing concept, Actionable Marketing Tips and Actionable Marketing Metrics.
  • Appear on a regular schedule. Publish recurring columns on the same day of the week, either every week or every other week.
  • Use a consistent format. For example, use another form of media such as video or podcast like Moz’s Whiteboard Fridays.
  • Created by the same author. Have the same person develop the column every week.

As a result of these attributes, recurring columns often require less blog creation effort.

For example, Spin Sucks’ Gini Dietrich creates a Gin and Topics post every Saturday by curating popular YouTube videos with additional commentary.

Example of Gini Dietrich’s weekly curated column spotlighting YouTube videos via Spin Sucks

Alternatively, you can augment your blog voice with interviews. For example, I run an author interview on Saturdays.

Based on his 2018 MarketingProfs B2B Forum presentation, Top Rank’s Lee Odden started a series of B2B Influencer Marketing Interviews.

Example of Interview Series via Lee Odden of Top Rank

Actionable Content Marketing Tips:

  • Use a consistent visual. Take a page from Dietrich and Odden.
  • Link to related posts in the series. Odden adds links to past interviews at the end of each interview. This encourages readers to see more interviews.

    Links at the end of recurring content or columns. Example via TopRank

 

4. Add other voices to your blog

Don’t go it alone!

Top blogs like Content Marketing Institute and Social Media Examiner include articles by their staff as well as top thought leaders in their space. These blogs act like professional media entities complete with editors. (Hat tip: Lisa Doughtery of Content Marketing Institute and Lisa Jenkins of Social Media Examiner!)

By contrast, long time bloggers like Mark Schaefer and Michael Brenner selectively add other voices from marketers they know and respect. Often, these bloggers are regular contributors to help fill out the blog’s editorial calendar.

Or at a minimum, ask influencers and peers to contribute to your content in the form of comments as Crestodina did with the blogging survey. In Crestodina’s words, “A partner in content creation is a partner in content distribution.”

Actionable Blogging Tactic

  • Decide how to add other voices to your blog. Having a consistent flow of quality content requires full-time support to vet requests and edit posts.
  • Develop blogging guidelines to qualify guest blogger requests. (Please note Actionable Marketing Guide does NOT accept guest posts.)

 

5. Update Your Best Blog Posts

Once you have an inventory of older posts, selectively updating existing content remains an easy way to fuel your blog.

Further, select only your best performing, road-tested content to update. For example, Brian Dean of Backlinko never writes new content until he has updated every piece of existing content.

38% of bloggers update existing blog posts.Click To Tweet

 

Since updating content requires less work than creating brand spanking new posts and drives improved results, I’m surprised that more bloggers don’t do it!

Similarly, Buffer selectively updates proven posts based on traffic, search and conversions. As a result, the refreshed articles drive incremental traffic.

Updated Buffer Article Yields 2X Traffi

Actionable Blogging Tips:

  • Let readers and search engines know the content has been updated. Content Marketing Institute uses a “Back By Popular Demand” and an editor’s note.
  • Keep your search cred. Where possible keep the same URL and add a note to let readers know that you’ve updated the content.

 

2018 Blogging Research Conclusion

To maximize your blog’s results relative to the best-in-class blogs, assess your blogging activity relative to Orbit Media Studio’s 2018 Blogging Research.

As the results reveal, blogging requires a tradeoff between post quality and publishing frequency.

Therefore improve your blog post quality by going deeper. This translates to adding non-text formats and outside input, namely influencers.

Further, publish your blog posts at least weekly to establish SOAA or share of audience attention.

To this end, add regular columns such as interviews and curation.

Or, alternatively, update your best performing blog posts to make them better.

Go on, with better planning, you can improve your blog quality and post publishing frequency!

Happy Marketing,
Heidi Cohen

Heidi CohenHeidi Cohen is the President of Riverside Marketing Strategies.
You can find Heidi on FacebookTwitter and Google+.

 

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