It must’ve been four years ago when I first heard that B2B blog writing was on its way out. But here we are in 2021 and I’m writing this, a blog.
Of course blogs didn’t die. But they did change.
In fact, B2B blog content has only gotten longer and more versatile, with the average blog post now hitting 1269 words. And of the 94% of B2B marketers using the format, many seem to be spending more time than ever ensuring their blogs provide genuine value and, in turn, deliver stronger results.
To get those results, though, you need to put your content in the right place.
The B2B content dilemma: dedicated blogging vs LinkedIn articles
Where should your blog posts live to perform at their best? It’s not the simple question it once was.
In B2B, you have a couple of strong options. You can publish content on your dedicated business blog, or as an article hosted natively by LinkedIn.
Let’s weigh up the pros and cons of both approaches.
The dedicated B2B blog: expertise where it counts
For many businesses, an on-site blog is more than just a means to share thought leadership and respond to the latest industry trends; it’s an SEO powerhouse.
Even back in 2017, our Creative Director David noted that search algorithms were increasingly rewarding quality content. And that’s as true as ever for your blog content today – especially since Google E-A-T and YMYL came on the scene.
What is Google E-A-T – and why should a B2B marketer care?
According to Google, “E-A-T” stands for “expertise, authority, and trustworthiness”. And that’s what your content needs to successfully rank where you want it to.
It’s also one of the three guidelines used by Google’s human search evaluators when assessing whether its algorithms are doing their job properly. It’s easy to get lost down a rabbit hole here, so let me break it down for you: E-A-T works to stop Google from serving you rubbish content.
Today, approximately 86% of content marketers include blogs as part of their marketing strategy. And when companies who do so are likely to get 97% more links to their sites compared to those who don’t, it’s easy to see the appeal from a marketing perspective.
The proof of the pudding
But remember, your blog is also evidence of your expertise; it’s proof that you have the knowledge to really deliver the goods. When a technical expert publishes a blog sharing their expertise, it’s more convincing than just saying how smart they are.
A dedicated blog is also a means to take ownership of your content, giving you full authority over how it looks and feels. And because it sits on your website, with your look and feel, there’s an immediate association between the quality of your content and your brand.
So, if it’s easy to just share a URL to your dedicated blog, why on earth would you post your content natively on LinkedIn instead?
The LinkedIn article: building networks and conversations
Just to clarify, as this can get a little confusing: when we talk about posting a LinkedIn article, we don’t mean lifting your blog’s URL and sharing it socially. We mean your blog is published on the LinkedIn platform – that’s where it lives, and it’s tied specifically to your account.
(If you happen to remember LinkedIn Pulse, that’s exactly what I’m referring to. Except they’ve now retired the Pulse name and integrated its features into the standard LinkedIn experience.)
Anyway, before we go on, let’s pull out some statistics. Mull over these for a moment:
- 96% of B2B Marketers use LinkedIn for organic content distribution
- More than 50% of all social traffic to B2B sites and blogs comes from LinkedIn
- 79% of marketers say LinkedIn is an effective source for generating new leads
What’s more, 91% of decision-makers consider it the place to find valuable content. And it’s not hard to see why.
LinkedIn encourages awareness, networking, and discourse. It’s easy to share your opinion, and it’s democratic too – it must be one of the only places online where you’re likely to see an enterprise CEO discussing content with, say, a graduate developer in a public forum.
So, back to our original question: what’s better – posting your blog as a LinkedIn article, or on your website?
What’s best on LinkedIn: native content vs external links
On LinkedIn, you’re serving people content where they already are. They don’t need to click out to your site to read your blog. What’s more, you’re creating opportunities to build your personal network, and even sell socially.
For example, when people comment on your content, they create visibility for you on their own network – often, likeminded people, in similar sectors and roles. This helps your content to extend its reach, and with luck, attract the kind of lookalike customers you want to appeal to.
Most importantly, it plays to how LinkedIn decides who sees what. In May 2020, LinkedIn engineers kindly published the details of their new algorithm, and for some, it held a few nasty surprises. You see, LinkedIn largely determines content visibility based on the amount of time people spend interacting with it – that includes likes, comments, and shares. Now, this has a knock-on effect: it means external links will be penalised. Why? Because they pull users away from LinkedIn and decrease the time they spend on the post.
Ouch. That’s a score for posting content natively if ever there was one.
But then again, with LinkedIn articles, the content is associated with you – an individual – and there’s no immediate indication that it’s tied to your brand. Even with a powerful call-to-action, there’s still no guarantee they’ll click through to your site. Chances are, they’re in browse mode, and they just want something to read while eating lunch at their desk. And that means they’re not being reeled into a buying journey.
And maybe you risk your content getting lost in a sea of voices, because, hey, if anyone can post an article here, what’s to say they’re the real deal?
Can we have the best of both worlds? I think so.
Is there any reason you can’t just use your blog in two places at once?
Well, having hunted around online for a definitive answer – all for the sake of this blog, of course – I concluded that there’s no harm in doing both. Albeit, posting two ever-so-different versions of the same blog.
First, publish the full-fat version of your blog as you normally would, on your website. This gives you all the benefits I mentioned earlier, like SEO authority, brand association, and greater control over how it looks and feels. Then, for optimal visibility, share it on your preferred social media platforms.
Next, create an abridged version of your final draft. One that delivers the same value but isn’t likely to supersede your original post in Google’s rankings. Not necessarily because duplicate content can score you poorly, but because – as Google’s John Muller testifies – its algorithm will always try and promote the best matching page to a user’s search, and you want them to find your site first.
Once you’ve done that, publish your second draft as an article on LinkedIn where, with any luck, you’ll reap the benefits of a larger audience and maybe get some killer conversation going too.
You do you.
Where do you prefer to post your blog content? Does our research line up with your experiences, or is there a smarter way to solve this puzzle? Or maybe we’ve got this whole LinkedIn business totally wrong? Let us know.