This post was last updated on February 16th, 2021
What is a Blog Used For? It’s certainly a valid question to ask given the rapid advent of new media and social networks. How relevant are written blogs as video & audio content become ever more pervasive in our lives?
A blog creates a central home base for your community or brand. It becomes the central hub through which all your other forms of web presence can be linked to. On your blog you can share engaging articles with your readers and link out to any other resources without the limitations of social media channels. You’ll also have the biggest reach in terms of organic traffic as Google text search is still the biggest search engine.
Blogs have many important uses. Although other forms of media definitely have their benefits and audiences, the humble blog still has as much to offer today.
The major benefit of blogs is that they can be very personal. They provide a level of intimacy with the reader that other forms of media just can’t achieve.
Why is this so?
Well, we need to remember that there’s a whole bunch of readers who just don’t watch much video content at all. So Youtube isn’t something they look to for information. Also, many people don’t engage with social media for their own reasons.
People who read for pleasure are often more logically attracted to text as an information source. They are more likely to read blogs.
In this article, I’ll summarise the diverse applications that a blog can be used for.
Blogs are good for SEO
Nothing works better for Search Engine Optimisation than a blog or website. Why is this so? Consider a Google search for the term “building a log cabin”:
Although you might see some Youtube videos in the SERP, notice the total absence of any social media listings.
While social media is important, search engines are the place that people go when they are looking for something with intent.
Blogs Create Authority in Your Niche Subject
Nothing creates credibility for your authority and brand like written content. Blogging (along with writing a book) creates significant authority with your audience. Bloggers are often seen to be at the forefront of industry trends as they are continually researching and writing about those trends.
This topicality and newsy nature is a great signal to the world that you’re on top of everything that’s going on right now in your niche. This commands attention and authority.
A couple of great examples:
Matthew Woodward is a great example of a blogger who has built significant influence in his niche area of Search Engine Optimisation (SEO). His blog is constantly updated with things that are working for him in the world of blogging and website optimisation. I like the way that he’s always running tests to see what works based on his own results.
Martin Lewis’ UK based blog: MoneySavingExpert has built a tremendous community around how to save money with personal finance, credit cards, savings accounts and more.
What is a Blog Used For? – Building a Community
We all crave community. The need for it is hardwired into all of us. But sadly it’s largely lacking, particularly in many parts of the western world.
The World Happiness Report published in March 2020, highlighted the need for community: “generosity… is clearly a marker for positive community engagement”.
This community can be the strongest when groups of like-minded users build a tribe around a subject that they’re all passionate about. However, it’s often difficult to find people in your area with the same interests. For example, it might be difficult to find people nearby who are interested in online business or content creation, particularly if you live in a rural area.
Blogs are wonderful at bridging these geographical gaps and building a tribe around a niche subject that you are passionate about.
Some great examples of communities built around blogs:
- Mr Money Mustache – the community built by Peter Adeney is phenomenal. It’s a passionate frugality-based tribe centred around financial retirement and early retirement.
- Tim Ferriss’ Blog – A whole movement in lifestyle design sprung up from Tim Ferris’ book: The Four Hour Work Week. Tim has the most engaged and loyal following that you could imagine. Combined with his top ranking podcast, The Tim Ferriss Show, it’s an unbeatable combination.
Build and Grow a Website Asset Which You Own
With other platforms such as Youtube or social media, you have no ownership of the platform. Accordingly, if something were to happen to the platform, your content could disappear forever. You’re also at the whim of the platform. If for some reason they decide to exclude or cancel your account, you risk losing your audience.
So the advantage of having your own self-hosted website on WordPress is that nobody can take it away from you. It’s your asset and your audience has one place to come to. You’re in a much more secure position than having to rely on another platform.
What is a Blog Used For? – Sharing Information
Blogs posts are infinitely shareable. So it’s a great way to get information out to your audience.
Promote your blog posts through social media to really turbo boost your traffic.
Many fan sites are hosted on WordPress blogs. Usain Bolt built his personal site using WordPress. It’s a great looking site where he shares all of his latest news and connects with his fans.
Product Review Sites
Some recent acquisitions highlight the incredible value of these sites:
- TechCrunch (a tech blog started in 2005) was sold to AOL in 2010 for around US$25 million.
- Wirecutter was started in 2011 as a product review site. It was purchased for about US$30 million in 2016 by the New York Times.
News and Viral news Blogs
News blogs such as the Huffington Post offer alternative views to mainstream media. People are craving information and the major news channels often leave a gap.
In 2011, AOL acquired Huffington Post for US$315 million proving the inherent value in blog sites.
- Time Magazine is world renowned and uses a successful magazine style format on its WordPress based blog.
Blog on e-Commerce Site to Boost Traffic
If you’re in the business running any type of online store, a blog will help your online shop in a few important ways.
Firstly, it will help you to inform your customers about the latest developments, new products and industry trends.
Secondly, it can give you a huge boost in terms of Google rankings. So if you’re running a Shopify store, there’s good news! Your Shopify store comes complete with an in-built blogging engine.
What is a Blog Used For? – Summary
Despite the advent of video and social media content, blogs still hold an important role in providing useful information.
Google and Youtube are the two biggest search engines in the world. Accordingly, if you are creating content, blogging should be at least one arm of providing relevant and entertaining information to your audience.
Frequently Asked Questions
How do web 2.0 backlinks work?
Some blogs achieve inbound links to their site by setting up another blog on a so-called web 2.0 platform (i.e. a free web builder platform). How this works is that an alternative blog is set up in the same niche as the main site. Then, a lot of new and unique content is posted on the alternative site. So, the web 2.0 site is set up as a totally legitimate blog site.
Over a period of time, as content is added on the site a few links will be created back to the main website. Hence the main website will receive the so-called link juice from the web 2.0 site.
It’s debatable whether such schemes actually work as search engines have become more adept at identifying them. They should be avoided as they constitute a link building scheme would be seen by search engines as a black hat SEO method.
What can I blog about if I have a Shopify store?
You can blog about all aspects of the product that you’re selling and industry trends etc.
For example if you are selling watches you could blog about watch bands, watch comparisons, complementary clothing and many more. The options are virtually limitless.
How do news websites make money?
News websites primarily make income through either subscriptions or pay-per-click advertising.
How do Tech review websites make money?
Technology review websites make money primarily through affiliate marketing. Amazon associates is the main affiliate, but there are others. They can also make an income through PPC advertising.
How do niche blog sites make money?
Niche blogs make money primarily through advertising and affiliate marketing.
Can I make money quickly with a blog?
Unfortunately the answer is no. Building a blog takes time and a lot of effort but eventually you’ll reach a point where your traffic starts to compound and you’ll see a snowballing of results.
Should I start my blog on WordPress or a site builder platform?
Self-hosted WordPress is recommended as it’s used by all the major bloggers. It gives you total flexibility as to what you can do with your site in terms of performance, speed and integrations. You’re not constrained by the limitations of a site builder platform.