Blogs have come a long way in the last 20 years, evolving from personal diaries to powerful marketing tools. In this blog post, we’ll explore the history of blogging and its transformation into a vital marketing strategy.
Table of Contents
- History of Blogging
- Use Cases for Corporate Blogs: Then (Mid-2000s) vs. Now (2020s)
- Changes in Corporate Blogs: Then (Mid-2000s) vs. Now (2020s)
History of Blogging
Blogging has a rich history that has shaped the internet and content we know today. Let’s dive into key milestones.
Special thank you: This part of the blog post was developed using the research and content from HubSpot’s “A Brief Timeline of the History of Blogging” blog post and Notre Dame of Maryland University’s “History of Blogging” article. I’ve included the highlights as they relate to the history of blogs in marketing. Please read their content for a more extensive understanding of the broader history of blogging.
1994: First Blog Was Created
The history of blogging dates back to 1994 when Justin Hall, a college undergrad, created the first-ever blog on Links.net. Hall used his blog as a personal diary and linked to other web pages to share his thoughts on current events and interesting internet discoveries. Many consider him the “founding father of personal bloggers.”
1997: “Web-log” Was Coined
In 1997, Jorn Barger, an early blogger at the time, coined the term “web-log,” the concept of logging one’s web or internet activities.
1999: “Web-log” Became “Blog” & Creation of Blogging Sites
Around 1999, programmer Peter Merholz shortened “web-log” to “blog.” This period also witnessed the birth of well-known blogging platforms like Blogger (later acquired by Google), LiveJournal, and Xanga.
2002: Mommy Blogging
The rise of mommy blogging began in 2002 with the launch of TheMommyBlog.com. These blogs primarily consisted of mothers sharing their parenting experiences and creating a supportive community for their readers.
2003: Google AdSense & More Blogging Sites Launched and the Rise of Live Blogging
In 2003, Google introduced AdSense, a blog advertising service that enabled blogs to display relevant ads, opening up opportunities for sponsorship and product endorsements. That same year, more major blogging platforms launched (WordPress and TypePad). Additionally, live blogging gained prominence, with The Guardian pioneering its use during the 2003 prime minister’s question time.
2005: YouTube & Huffington Post Launched
In 2005, YouTube and Huffington Post made their debuts. While YouTube revolutionized video blogging (vlogging), Huffington Post was a cross between news and blogging, setting the stage for the evolution of digital media.
2006: Rise of Corporate Blogs
Around 2006, corporate blogs gained traction. Socialtext reported that 29 Fortune 500 companies were blogging as of April 2006, making up 5.8% of Fortune 500 companies at the time. Of course, many non-Fortune 500 companies also started to embrace blogging.
2011: Google Launched “Panda” Algorithm Update
In 2011, Google rolled out the infamous “Panda” algorithm update. This update aimed to combat thin content, content farms, high ad-to-content ratios, and other quality issues impacting bloggers. Blogs with insufficient backlinks were also perceived as less relevant by the algorithm.
Use Cases for Corporate Blogs: Then (Mid-2000s) vs. Now (2020s)
The use cases for corporate blogs have continued to evolve, adapting to the constantly changing digital landscape.
Uses Cases for Corporate Blogs in the Mid-2000s
Corporate blogs in the mid-2000s served various purposes:
- Company news
- Thought leadership
- Brand awareness
- Evergreen resources
- Topical authority
Blog Examples from the Mid-2000s
Product Releases Example: Nike’s Blog
Nike’s blog unveiled their latest basketball shoe releases.
Company News Example: Sprint’s Blog
Sprint used its blog to share updates about its products, services, and initiatives.
Thought Leadership Example: Boeing’s Blog
Boeing’s Blog, “Randy’s Journal,” led by Randy, the VP of Marketing for Boeing’s Commercial Airplanes, was a prime example of thought leadership. The blog’s primary mission was to discuss commercial aviation and Boeing’s contributions toward advancing the industry.
Brand Awareness Example: Wells Fargo’s Blog
Wells Fargo launched the “Guided by History” blog for the 100th anniversary of the 1906 San Francisco earthquake. Due to its success, it expanded to cover topics like disaster preparedness and survival kits.
Evergreen Resources Example: HubSpot’s Blog
Even in the mid-2000s, HubSpot was committed to providing resources for digital marketers. The blog continues to be a valuable resource for marketers today.
Uses Cases for Corporate Blogs Today (2020s)
In the 2020s, corporate blogs continue to serve many of the same vital roles as they did two decades ago:
- Brand awareness
- Topical authority
- Thought leadership
- Evergreen resources
- Company news
Blog Examples in the 2020s
Brand Awareness Example: LEGO
LEGO’s “Ideas” blog features user-generated content (UGC) showcasing creative builds and designs by LEGO enthusiasts. It promotes brand awareness by fostering community and creativity around LEGOS.
Topical Authority Example: Ahrefs
Ahrefs, an SEO tool provider, dedicates its blog to SEO and digital marketing topics. The Ahrefs blog has become a go-to resource for professionals looking to stay updated on SEO and digital marketing trends.
Thought Leadership Example: Salesforce
Salesforce, a customer relationship management (CRM) and cloud computing company, uses its blog to explore various topics related to customer relationship management, sales, marketing, and technology trends. It includes contributions from their company leaders who share their expertise and knowledge.
Evergreen Resources Example: King Arthur Baking
King Arthur Baking’s blog offers evergreen resources covering the art of baking: recipes, tips, and techniques. It provides a wealth of baking knowledge, making it a resource for novice and experienced bakers.
Company News Example: OpenAI
OpenAI, an artificial intelligence (AI) research organization, uses its blog to keep users informed about the latest developments within the company: company news, product releases, and updates on new features.
Changes in Corporate Blogs: Then (Mid-2000s) vs. Now (2020s)
The landscape of corporate blogs has transformed in three significant ways:
1. Focus on helpful content
Google’s E-E-A-T Criteria
Google introduced E-A-T, which has since evolved to E-E-A-T, an acronym representing:
Google created this concept in its Search Quality Raters program and guidelines. It involved collaboration with real individuals who assessed websites and content based on these criteria. The goal was to set a benchmark for content quality in search results using the E-E-A-T criteria, which Google subsequently shared with the online community to improve content quality.
Increased Blog Post Length
Blog posts can no longer get by with a mere 200 words or less. The average length of blog posts has surged since the mid-2000s.
According to Orbit Media, blog posts contain “77% more words per post than 10 years ago.”
Travis McKnight said it best in his “How Long Should Blog Posts Be? An Analysis of Word Count Data” blog post, “Ultimately, as the saying goes, your blog post should be as long as it needs to be.”
With the increase in average blog post length comes a corresponding increase in the time and effort required to write blogs. According to Orbit Media, “Bloggers spend 60% more time per blog post than they did 10 years ago.” Crafting quality and valuable content is a time-intensive process.
2. Increased competition
Since the mid-2000s, corporate blogs have proliferated. According to a 2021 survey by GrowthBadger, 91% of B2B marketers reported that their companies either maintain blogs or employ other forms of content marketing. Consequently, corporate blogs compete with other corporate blogs and the ever-present Google in search results.
Competition Against Google
In the 2015 (“One Year Ago”) example, organic results appeared second after paid search ads. Fast forward a year later, the 2016 (“Today”) example shows organic results were displaced by ads and Google Search Engine Results Page (SERP) features. Even in 2023, organic results continue to compete with Google SERP features.
In the above example, users searching for the Wells Fargo routing number can find it directly in the search results, constituting a zero-click search where users find answers to their questions in the SERP. However, it’s essential to note that not all featured snippets result in zero-click searches.
Another challenge emerges as our clients face competition from Google’s Generative AI results.
In this example, a user searches for “a good bike for a 5-mile commute with hills,” resulting in actual product recommendations displayed within the search results—likely extracted from one of the three linked articles in the top right corner.
Unlike the previous featured snippet example, some users may prefer to click through to the linked articles to learn more. So, this scenario may not be a zero-click search.
3. Improved blog designs
Many corporate blogs still follow the traditional reverse chronological order and minimal navigation from the 1990s and early 2000s. However, recent trends in blog design over the past five years have ushered in more modern and user-centric layouts and navigation that align with the needs of today’s blog audiences.
Notice Yahoo’s minimalistic and straightforward design. Beyond the archives, search bar, and pagination, there aren’t many options for users to find content.
This example is from Monday, a project management SaaS company.
The design has evolved to a sleeker interface featuring numerous images. Additionally, content is no longer organized in reverse chronological order. Instead, it’s organized by the most popular posts.
Blogs from the late 1990s and 2000s organized content using an archive format, allowing users to search for posts based on their publication month and year—similar to searching newspaper archives.
Now, blog posts are typically categorized by topic, reflecting topics businesses want to be recognized for. This approach aligns with the concept of topical authority, ensuring that topics extend from the business’s core offerings and products or services.
Yahoo’s blog navigation was quite minimal, consisting solely of a search bar.
Monday’s blog features a distinct navigation system separate from the rest of the Monday website. This specialized blog navigation gives users enhanced control over their blog exploration, helping them find the most relevant and valuable content.
The history of blogs in marketing has been a journey of evolution and adaptation. Over the last two decades, blogs have transformed from personal diaries into powerful marketing tools. They now serve diverse purposes, including brand awareness, topical authority, thought leadership, evergreen content creation, and company news/updates. In today’s digital landscape, corporate blogs remain essential for businesses looking to engage with their audience and establish their online presence. Businesses must continue to adapt and innovate to maintain their competitive edge and engage effectively with their audience.