Note from Sarah: This article was originally sent via my newsletter. Newsletter subscribers receive essay style pieces like this before anyone else. Click here to subscribe!
I’ve had the question several times lately,
Do people still read blogs?
The short answer is: yes! They most certainly do!
The long answer: The way people discover and consume blogs is very complicated.
We know—the data demonstrates this—that long-form content performs very, very well. We know that if you build pillars of topical content that solves your audience’s problem, structure it correctly, and keep it current, people will visitor even small websites. We also know that blogs (you don’t have to call it that—it’s a weird word!) are the easiest way to do so.
We also know that people engage with and interact with content differently than they used to.
Back when I was first blogging, you grew a community around you blog. I’d write a new post and would be immediately swarmed with comments. I got to know my readers via email and I read their blogs. (I’m still friends with many of these folks I met back in 2007-09!) It was very easy to understand what content was engaging—not just clicked. Now it’s much harder.
Blog comments are almost nonexistent. I get a couple a week and that blows me away, to be honest. Usually questions or thank yous because someone’s problem was solved, but a couple a week seems enormous. Most of my clients, understandably, don’t even have comments on their blogs because it’s not necessary and low quality comments can hurt your SEO. (This is a topic in and of itself.)
People instead engage with blog type content by sharing or saving it, which makes it harder to understand what’s landed and what hasn’t. I like to insert newsletter signups into my posts as a metric because I’ll see certain posts generate signups over time, whereas others never do. Many of these posts also have a fair number folks discover them via social media, so that’s also good feedback.
In my unscientific-but-still-pretty-reliable-because-I-do-this-stuff-professionally-opinion, the content that’s most frequently read and engaged with is the following:
- How-tos (step by step—this can get scooped up by google in a specific way, if the schema is correct)
- Definitive guides (dig into a topic in a substantive way, basically everything someone needs to know)
- FAQ content (think a very narrow topic with questions and answers—this can preview in google in a specific way as well)
- 5 Things posts (think “5 things you should know before X”)
Is this a lot of work? Sure! Is it the kind of blogging that people still read? Yep! Do you need to to have a strategy for what you want people to do after they find your blog? Indeed! But that’s the reality if you want to include a blog as part of your marketing strategy.