SEO Increasingly Important, as Social Shares Continue to Decline
BuzzSumo’s report of content trends for 2018 shows that SEO for websites is increasingly important, because of an ongoing decline in social engagement that started in 2015 and is set to continue. Furthermore, referral traffic from search engines like Google is steadily increasing, while referral traffic from social networks declines.
Quantity of Published Content Increases, as Views and Social Shares Diminish
The quantity of online content has been increasing rapidly, with content for popular topics increasing even more drastically. As a result, topics can become oversaturated with content very quickly, making it difficult for websites to stand out and earn referral traffic from social shares and search engines. Therefore, the number of pageviews for most content is steadily decreasing, while the volume of published content continues to increase.
Besides the number of pages views declining for published content, social shares have been decreasing since 2015, mostly because of declines in Facebook shares. And now, with changes in Facebook’s algorithm practically eliminating the appearance of organic posts from business pages on users’ news feed, the decline is set to steepen.
A bright spot in social shares is a comeback by LinkedIn, with likes and shares up over 60% year-over-year, due to product updates, new features, and analytics.
Furthermore, BuzzSumo also found that the distribution of social shares of published content is highly uneven. More than 90% of content gets very few shares, while the top 5% gets thousands, hundreds of thousands, or even millions of shares.
Content Discovery Methods Changing
Content discovery has seen a change as well, as fewer people rely on social media sharing.
Search engines and owned websites continue to drive traffic to published content at high rates, as well as email newsletters. Perhaps the most significant change has been with private sharing, such as email and messaging platforms like WhatsApp, which have seen significant increases in sharing published content.
Evergreen Content Generates the Most Shares and Backlinks
Along with declining views and social shares for most published content, backlinks have also declined. However, evergreen content, long-form research, authoritative articles, and reference content are steadily earning backlinks.
Evergreen content generates the most social shares and backlinks, often because it is posted numerous times across social channels and regularly updated. Evergreen content is in large part the best content available online, and in many cases is long-form research, authoritative articles, or reference content.
What This Means for Content Marketers
There is a clear challenge for content marketers in the current environment. Today, content marketing requires a well-defined strategy and more direct action. So, here are 10 actions to consider, which are inspired by the BuzzSumo report:
Set clear objectives for social media content and other published content.
Avoid publishing viral headlines and content for the sake of shares alone.
Anticipate trends. Build authority and an audience ahead of trends.
Focus on long tail keywords, and own sub-topics ahead of other marketers.
Work on your direct distribution model, such as email, to build your audience.
Encourage user generated content, such as surveys, competitions, and feedback.
Promote social media posts using paid promotions, outreach, influencer sharing, and staff sharing.
Focus on high-quality content, such as deep research, long form content, and original findings.
Focus on SEO, especially on organic backlinks generated by high-quality content.
Consider publishing less content to focus more on the quality of your content, promoting your content, and amplifying your content.
BuzSumo’s report of content trends for 2018 validates the widely accepted “best practices” for content marketing, and internet marketing overall, established by the industry over the last several years. Companies ignoring the best practices, for whatever reason, find themselves in a position resulting in declining lead generation and sales from digital marketing.
Furthermore, and perhaps best of all, companies making the investment to be outstanding digital citizens are being rewarded. The market once again has chosen the winners and losers, in a way that was predictable even back in the early 2000’s – content is king, engagement is key, and integrity is paramount especially with SEO.