This blog post was originally published on January 9, 2018, and has been updated to reflect current statistics, trends, and information for 2020.
At Verblio, we’re fortunate enough to help thousands of businesses and the agencies that serve them create content of all types to power their content marketing, SEO, and inbound marketing.
And because of that, we have a unique opportunity as content marketing enthusiasts and nerds to view a large data set about what content marketing and blogging trends in 2020 are taking center stage.
To be good at what we do, we work hard to read everything we can get our hands on any blogging trend. And we’ve uncovered nine that you need to know about.
Here’s what we’re going to cover. Click a link to jump ahead, or keep scrolling to read them all!
- Blogging Trend #1: Word Count Is Still Going Up
- Blogging Trend #2: Be Useful To The Reader
- Blogging Trend #3: Optimization After Writing Matters
- Blogging Trend #4: Promote Your Damn Content!
- Blogging Trend #5: Content Takes More Time and Effort Than Ever
- Blogging Trend #6: Google My Business Posts
- Blogging Trend #7: More Funnels Turning Into Flywheels
- Blogging Trend #8: Scannable Content Is Bigger Than Ever
- Blogging Trend #9: BERT Makes A Splash
We also feel these blogging and content marketing trends based on our customers’ buying behaviors, and especially agencies who are leading the charge on keeping marketing fresh for the small business clients.
So with our data and hands-on experience, plus reading from thought leaders, let’s answer the question: “What are the upcoming content marketing and blogging trends in 2020 that will drive results for businesses?”
DIGITAL WRITING TRENDS IN 2020
Blogging is still relevant in 2020 as an essential part of your digital marketing. It’s great for SEO, can empower your social media, and still stands as a pillar for developing your brand long-term.
That said, we also know that video content is huge in 2020, so if you’d rather get the video cliff-notes version of this post, check out the video for this content piece our team made using Verblio’s Engagement video service.
This tool is designed to help you take your content and make easily digestible videos for social media that drive more eyeballs to the content on your website.
And now for all you old-fashioned people who prefer to read, let’s dig in!
Blogging Trend #1: Word Count Is Still Going Up
In 2016, Orbit Media noted that the length of an average blog post had risen to 1,054 words (up from 887 in 2015). You shouldn’t be surprised that in the years since then, word count has risen even more.
A study from SearchMetrics shared that 2019’s average word count was around 1,692 words—although there’s still some variance from industry to industry. You’d better believe that means word counts will continue to rise in 2020.
Whichever way you lean, the message is the same: You better get started writing!
Short blogs just don’t get the results that most bloggers are hoping to meet. Longer blogs—those measuring 1,500+ words—tend to get more social media attention and lead visitors to spend more time on your site.
Of course, it’s not just about word count. The point is to produce high-quality posts that people are genuinely interested in reading.
Instead, they’re looking for posts that will tell them more than what they can find in half a dozen different places across the internet. Google themselves are putting more weight on content comprehensiveness to determine search rankings, so remember to be helpful more than wordy.
Long-form content like e-books or posts with 2,000+ words gives you something to promote, increases your search engine rankings, and helps further establish your authority in your field.
And you don’t just have to create this in a vacuum—you easily can revamp old blog posts to get to a higher word count (and we’ll share more tips on this in trend #3).
Of course, to reap those benefits you need a dedicated person producing that content for you. Who is writing your long-form content, and where does the time come from? Answering that question is a critical part of building your 2020 content-production strategy.
We see this trend reflected in our data, too—our customers are choosing longer blog post lengths to power their content marketing.
Blogging Trend #2: Be Useful To The Reader
Content marketing requires brands to give freely first—before they ask for something in return from their readers.
Blogging in 2020 will emphasize this even more.
More than ever, businesses that want to do SEO and content marketing need to publish and promote valuable content. What exactly does that look like?
It’s a little simpler than you may think. All you need to do is find out where the intersection of “value” lies between what your customer wants and is profitable for your business:
Putting more long-form, comprehensive content—often called pillar pages—out there on your public website, for free (i.e., less gated content) will allow you to build a tribe around your content and serve your customers even better in 2020.
The reason for this is simple and two-fold:
First, Google is getting better and better at delivering the “best” content to its users. That means if you’re creating content that’s not useful to the reader or is overly self-promotional, it may work for a little while, but your returns will diminish quicker than you might expect.
Second, search results are more competitive than ever, and digital brands have a much more mature approach to content in 2020 than ever before. So if you’re delivering underwhelming content that focuses on you and not your readers, you’re going to lose. And lose, and continue to lose.
This all comes down to teach, be helpful, and educate first. Then, and only then, can you sell!
It’s also more important than ever to include other media with blog posts: images, video, and audio help attract readers and genuinely interest them in the content.
And even that isn’t as simple as it sounds. Writing helpful, high-value, media-laden content is a process, and you won’t get it right on your first try.
But we see this trend in our customer data too—our best customers are creating content along their whole sales funnel. That includes plenty of top-of-funnel content that seeks to be helpful, and may not even mention their business at all.
While this takes more time to work, the long-term success of this tactic is phenomenal.
On the other hand, customers who ask us only to create content about themselves usually get frustrated with their results quickly and leave. That leaves two clear takeaways: 1) write about what your industry customers want, and 2) give it time to work!
Blogging Trend #3: Optimization After Writing Matters
High-quality writing is an essential foundation for great content.
But, it doesn’t end there. To make your content rank on Google, stand out on social media, and engage readers on your website, you need to optimize them.
I’ll get to what that means in a second, but first a quick note for anyone who’s heard something like, “You don’t need to do SEO anymore, just create great content and Google will reward you.”
Please, please, don’t follow this advice if traffic from Google is important to you.
In 2017, we spent a large amount of time re-optimizing our older blog posts for SEO and saw monthly organic traffic to these posts go up 50-300%! And guess what? We’ve been doing it since, and 2020 is no exception!
HubSpot even did a huge case study on this where they found that updating their content with conversion optimization best-practices, higher word counts, and keyword-based revisions made their organic traffic skyrocket:
Taking the time to update your old content is a no-brainer, but many brands have let it slide for years. If that describes you, 2020 is the year it should change.
But let’s be clear, the words of MobileMonkey CEO Larry Kim still ring true:
“The biggest mistake people make with repurposing is to repurpose content that is garbage in the first place. A post that went nowhere on your own blog six months ago isn’t likely to have any other outcome when repurposed.”
That means you need to give some thought to which posts you repost before you get to work. Don’t guess—be purposeful, consult Google Analytics, and remember that you need to add value!
But before we move on, what constitutes a good article to look for?
While every business will make this choice differently, there are a few quick indicators you can look for in your Google Analytics dashboard.
Start by opening the Acquisition tag, then Click All Traffic > Channels > Organic Search
From there, select the Landing Page option:
You’ll now see a list of pages on your site with a performance breakdown for each. Using the metrics shown—Pageviews, Average Time on Page, Bounce Rate, and any Conversion goals you may have set—you can comb through this list and see which pages will stand to benefit from optimization.
We even did this on this very blog post, as you can see here:
If we get it right, those numbers can stay consistent in 2020 and beyond—and the same can be said for your content!
At Verblio, we’re looking to help brands addressing this blog trend with our +Optimize product.
Our customers work with a skilled optimizer to get blog posts ready for publishing, essentially just ensuring that your content is sending all the right signs to search engines. It’s also helpful to ensure you content is on-point topically, too.
And the results are astounding—we’re seeing more of our customers opt for this service as the importance of optimization only grows.
Blogging Trend #4: Promote Your Damn Content!
If I had a dollar for every time a client told me something along the lines of:
“I published my blog post a week ago and I’m *still* not seeing any traffic from Google…”
I could probably buy a really nice house in California.
Okay, maybe an okay house in California.
Regardless, the point stays the same. You probably won’t see amazing results right out of the gate with your content.
Creating outstanding content is great, and a crucial piece of the puzzle, but it’s not the whole puzzle.
You need to get your content out into the world to get it noticed and kickstart your content marketing machine. If your goal is to drive traffic to your blog, you need to let people know about your content, and there are plenty of ways to do it.
- Promoting on social media means more exposure. You want to create posts that other people are eager to share, but social media posts on one platform is just the beginning. Be sure to share on a wide variety of platforms, plus get into Facebook groups, forums, and potentially even Reddit. The more other people share your content, the more the word will get out and the better you can signal your influence to search engines.
- Email marketing allows you to connect with people who have shown an interest in your content in the past. Solid email marketing drip campaigns and newsletters allow you to bring in customers who may have lapsed or who haven’t thought about your company in a while.
- Linkbuilding, the practice of enticing other websites to link to your site, can seem intimidating but produces real results. After you write a piece of content (or even while you’re thinking about what to write about), ask yourself, “who will promote this and why?” Do you know people with websites? Can you search and find websites in your industry with readerships who might find your content useful? Send them a quick, friendly email and ask if they’d consider sharing with their readers on their site if they thought your content would be useful for their audience.
That means promotion is more than blasting it out there willy-nilly. It’s consistently blasting it out there.
The more you put your content out, the more people will be able to find it. This will be true 100% of the time, even if, at worst, only one more person sees your content than before you promoted. One reader is all it takes sometimes to win more business!
Blogging Trend #5: Content Takes More Time & Effort Than Ever
You already learned that blog posts are getting longer, and brands are more focused on value than ever.
Those two content marketing trends make this trend make that much more sense.
According to one study of emerging blogger trends, the amount of time and effort most bloggers are spending on their posts is increasing.
Between 2015 and 2016, something clicked in the minds of content marketers everywhere, and we’re still feeling the effects:
According to that same study, the extra effort is paying off. Orbit Media reported that 38.9 percent of the bloggers who spent six or more hours writing a blog post felt that they saw “strong results” based on their blogging efforts.
And that raises one essential question for businesses that want to get their content noticed this year:
Delegating that task to someone in-house is a great solution, as long as you have a team member who has time for your company’s 2020 blogging efforts and understands emerging content marketing trends.
Seeking out freelance writers or working with an article writing service or agency is often a more efficient means of collaborating on content without writing it yourself that you’re still proud to promote. It’s often the most cost-effective, too (if that matters to you!).
Blogging Trend #6: Google My Business Posts
Somehow, some way, Google manages to surprise us every year.
At this point, it’s old news that Google likes to change up their algorithm, throw the SEO world into chaos, and nearly tank businesses they think are “cheating” the SEO game.
But now and then, they provide a way for businesses to continue to express themselves through high-quality content, and 2020 is one of those years.
Google now allows businesses to create short, copy- and image-oriented posts on their Google My Business page, and almost everyone has probably seen one of these as a consumer:
That’s because they’re super helpful, when created properly.
You can think of it like Instagram on Google, but with a bit more of a content-marketing twist. These posts will show up in your Google My Business listing at the right of Search Engines, like this example from DILAN Consulting in California:
These help you create and then “tease” your latest content directly on the front-page of Google, effectively cutting into the time it might originally take to get your content in front of a potential reader.
And for many small businesses, this is a content marketing and SEO game-changer.
Why is that?
Because it’s another place where someone can find your latest and greatest content. If you’re already doing well in your local listings, creating content for this space is a no-brainer and can win you even more traffic.
If you’re not really invested in the local content marketing game yet, 2020 is clearly a good year to get started. The right team of talented writers and a simple strategy is all it takes to get started.
And if you’re not already getting great traffic through Google My Business? These posts can help you increase your ranking. Expect to see a huge surge of these in 2020!
Blogging Trend #7: More Funnels Turning Into Flywheels
You may have heard about funnels—but what about the flywheel?
The flywheel (which has been rolling around since 2018) is the innovative push of HubSpot, a leading inbound marketing company that you’ve probably heard of. They’re the progenitors of the Inbound Methodology that has shaped the way digital marketers do just about everything.
So for HubSpot to change the game again is noteworthy (and also just damn impressive, come on!).
Let’s talk about the differences.
Funnels, as you likely know, present a linear path toward your business; individuals go from prospects to customers by following the flow of your marketing materials.
The problem (as HubSpot saw it) was this method didn’t really consider what happened to a customer after the sale. Sure, you’ve probably read advice on retention, but that’s always been treated as a separate part of the customer journey.
The flywheel is designed to change that by breaking the customer lifecycle into three stages:
This is represented in a circular manner, with the customer at center stage:
By building your content and marketing collateral around these stages, HubSpot believes that you can build momentum throughout the customer journey—meaning customers stick around and become promoters much easier.
If you haven’t considered the transition for yourself, we highly recommend considering it.
You can learn more about the flywheel and how it works on HubSpot’s blog—and we’re excited that content is being created that can propel customers to be purchasers again and again (or even drive referrals, simulating the motion of the flywheel).
Blogging Trend #8: Scannable Content Is Bigger Than Ever
How do you get your readers to scroll below the fold of your blog posts?
For those who may not know, each page on your website has a “fold”—or a line of dividing content that’s instantly visible to the reader and content that has to be scrolled to. It gets its name from the olden days of newspapers. The visible content is “above the fold” and everything else is below it.
The reason we ask our original question is because (spoilers) it’s important. How many people go below the fold is usually a good indication about the engagement your content gets.
And there’s both anecdotal and research-based evidence to back this idea up.
Anecdotally, the idea of scrolling past the fold is pretty self-explanatory. If a user scrolls, it’s because they’re reading, engaged in the UX of your site and content, and want to learn more.
On the research-based end of things, the benefit of below the fold scrolling is tied to SEO—and SEOs are concerned about one key metric: average time on page (also known as dwell time).
We’ve known that dwell time affects SEO since about 2011, but marketers are still coming up with innovative ways to increase it for their websites. And while we don’t fully know how Google weights dwell time with rankings, the general idea is that more dwell time means Google likes you more.
So how does scannable content help with dwell time? Let’s look at some examples.
A great (yet also sometimes infuriating) example of content that forces you to go below the fold and spend more time on their site is recipe blogs. You know, the ones that tell stories about grandma, the author’s kids, and summers from 20 years ago for 1,000 words before the cinnamon rolls recipe you came for?
We all love to hate them, but the principle they teach is a sound content marketing trend in 2020—and it’s one that’s clearly being implemented by everyone from food bloggers all the way to content marketing’s thought leaders.
Put valuable content throughout your page, and let the reader know what they can expect!
Just look at this example from the Backlinko blog:
The preview for the entire blog post is visible—not just in the introduction—but on the preview page on the main blog. Brian Dean is making sure you can scan his content before you scan his content, which is both meta and the new best practice for blogging in 2020.
Verblio’s advice? Start adding a scannable table of contents! We’ve started doing it in our content, and it’s going to quickly become a new norm.
Blogging Trend #9: BERT Makes A Splash
In the waning months of 2019, Google surprised the world (again) with yet another update.
This update is known as BERT, which sadly has nothing to do with the beloved Sesame Street character.
… anyways, BERT actually stands for Bidirectional Encoder Representations from Transformers. Quite the mouthful, right?
Thankfully, Google didn’t leave us to guess what those words meant. In short, they’ve improved their algorithm to better understand search queries in context. This allows much more accurate rankings for niche topics.
And here’s what that might look like in the search results:
The difference here is subtle, but the results are very different. Google can now understand modifying phrases and deliver results that are much more specific than “parking on a hill” here. They actually deliver “parking on a hill with no curb.”
A small difference for the user, but not an insignificant one.
So what does BERT mean for blogging? In essence, nothing—at least according to Google’s Danny Sullivan:
But “nothing to optimize” isn’t quite the best way to say it, because a lot of companies still need to create content that answers their customers questions accurately and succinctly. Our takeaways for BERT are twofold:
- Continue to create high-value content that speaks to the reader.
- Look closer for niche topics and low-volume keywords and target the featured snippet (like in the picture below).
Over To You
Which of these content writing trends in 2020 will you be incorporating into your blog strategy?
What tweaks can you make to your current strategy to stay relevant and competitive in the current landscape?
Keep in mind that when it comes to your blogging strategy, little changes can make a big difference. Small tweaks to your content, like creating longer posts, changing your posting frequency, and mixing up your media can make a big difference to your audience.
Do your best to isolate variables to determine what matters most to your audience. This may mean diversifying your pool of writers, or even outsourcing your content if you haven’t before so that you can produce what your customers are looking for.
With the right moves, this could be your best blogging year yet!
And if you’re looking for even more trends in content marketing, and some practical applications, read more about that here.