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The History of Blogging: From Online Diaries to Business Blogs and Content Marketing

12 May

STATISTIC: B2B businesses that blog receive 67 per cent more leads than those that do not.

How’s that for an opener?

Consumers are doing their own research, and what better way to get their attention than with one of YOUR blog posts? This initial research stage mightn’t even involve you directly yet, and it’s not unlikely that a prospect has completed the bulk of their research before even their first conversation with you.

In fact, it’s estimated that by 2020 – that’s only FIVE years away – customers will manage 85 per cent of their relationships without even talking to a human.

Content marketing is the latest and most widespread strategy around blogging, and the concept of blogging has a great history. Here’s a recap, beginning with the humble online diary…

When blogging was simply an ‘online diary’

Did you know that the original name of a blog was, reasonably, an ‘online diary’? (Conjures up images of Bridget Jones, doesn’t it?) These original blogs have existed since the mid-nineties.

The very first online blog post is attributed to Justin Hall, who was a college student in Pennsylvania back in ye olde days – 1994 – and published to what he referred to as his ‘personal homepage’. New York Times Magazine calls Hall “the founding father of personal blogging”. His website – sorry, personal homepage – still remains, looking just like it did more than 20 years ago.

A fellow man at the helm of blogging is Claudio Pinhanez, who published an open diary on the Massachusetts Institute of Technology’s Media Lab website in November 1994.

Then, in 1997, John Barger created the term web blog to “reflect the process of logging the web” as he surfed. A few years later those terms were fused together to form the word that we well and truly know today: blog.

Before the decade was through, Jesse James Garrett compiled a list of all the blogs on the internet. Can you guess how many blogs there were in 1999? Seriously, take a guess. The answer will make you chuckle (it’s at the end of this post).

Tumblr statistics:

As of 1 May, Tumblr hosts 234.2 million blogs and 110 billion blog posts (but that number is growing every month!). 86 million posts are created on the site each day.

Now remember, Tumblr is used primarily by a younger demographic (tween One Direction fans will come to mind for a lot of you, I’m willing to bet!) – but yes, the reality is that half of the network’s visitor base is under 25.

Tumblr is referred to as a microblogging site, a subset of a blog due to the fact that posts here are typically shorter and smaller in size. On Tumblr, a posted image, for example, would count as a blog post. The evolution of microblogging, plus our reliance on smartphones, means we’re contributing to the blogging world, even when we mightn’t realise it.

Regardless, it’s still extraordinary to think though that one platform is hosting an astronomical number of posts, and is growing everyday.

Other popular blog hosting sites include (75 million blogs), LiveJournal (62.6 million blogs), and Weebly (12 million blogs).

By the numbers: the benefits of business blogs

There lies the stark difference between Tumblr posts and the rich (and often lengthy) content businesses are publishing as part of their content marketing strategy. But just because the word Tumblr conjures up the image of teenagers reblogging their favourite pop stars, the fact remains that:

Business blogging is the most resourceful way to make a considerable difference to your SEO and rankings.

Why? Google loves fresh content, and so the easiest and most meaningful way to contribute fresh content to your site is through a blog. Customers use blogs to learn more about a certain product; they’re not all scrambling to reach your “Buy it now” page. (Find out more about the rather lengthy and often complex purchase cycle).

As your reward from Google, your website can be ranked in a privileged position in Google’s search results, thereby increasing impressions, click-throughs and page views. These visitors, nurtured by your brand via its blogs, might very well turn into a lead and then into a customer — one day: blogging is no quick-fire solution. It’s a long-term solution that takes effort, but the benefits can be massive.

Five quick-fire business blogging facts and statistics you need to know:

1. The average company that blogs generates 55 per cent more website visitors than one that does not blog.

2. More than half of businesses that blog have acquired a customer through their company blog.

3. Those who place blogging at the fore of their inbound marketing efforts are 13 times more likely to benefit from positive ROI.

4. 81 per cent of companies consider their blogs “useful”, “important”, or “critical”.

5. 77 per cent of internet users read blogs – and 60 per cent of them say business blogs make them feel more positive about a brand, a company, or a product!

Remember, every time you hit publish on your latest blog post, you’re adding yet another page to your site filled with useful information that could appear in the search engines. That’s why companies that blog have 97 per cent more inbound links than those that don’t.

How often should businesses blog?

Basically, post as often as you can without your content suffering. How’s that for vague? But really, the most important thing here is to:

a) post great content, and

b) do it consistently.

That means, stop scurrying around trying to publish a lacklustre post just for the sake of it. If you can’t post twice a week, don’t. Scale it back to one (awesome) post per week, say, every Tuesday morning.

If you’re struggling to stick to a schedule and you’re finding that your content is suffering due to lack of time or a lack of focus, consider a digital agency like iformat. We can contribute to your content marketing strategy by produce great content based around every stage of your purchase cycle, on a regular basis, leaving you free to run your business.

Blogging and content marketing strategy

No longer is it sufficient enough to publish a blog post every couple of months, or post on social media just when we remember, and chuck out a link purely for the sake of it.

We need to work harder to not only provide the best content – the most helpful, relevant, useful, nurturing content – but to also cut through the complete saturation of content that is available online: it is one thing to consistently create good website content, but another to broadcast that content to your target markets. (You can find out more at this blog post based on content distribution).

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PS: The answer to the above question? It’s 23!