For years we’ve been treated to the mantra, “Content is King!” and if you listen to all the predictions, it seems 2014 is to be the year of content marketing. Odd, considering content has been “king” for so many years already. Yet, as many other online marketing strategies are falling out of fad or losing value, the migration toward content to fill in the gaps continues to increase. In truth, there has probably never been a time that content matters more to online marketing than it does right now. But is content marketing truly a sustainable strategy for online marketers? Or will we see it abused and fall out of effectiveness over time, just as so many other web marketing tactics have?
If you’ve been paying attention, we’ve already seen the predictions of the demise of some often-used (and abused) content marketing strategies. Guest posting has all but been declared as spam by Matt Cutts, who heads up Google’s Webspam team. Well, depending on your motives, at least. What about our motives for our other content marketing strategies—shouldn’t those be suspect as well?
There could be a day when any content you write that links back to you could be considered spam. That may never happen, but it could, depending on what Google deems is necessary to keep their organic results free of manipulation. Either way, this possibility highlights the fact that “content marketing” in and of itself can be questionable, depending on Google’s algorithm of the day.
Content is The Means, Not The End
The web is a wonderful place for people looking for information. There is no shortage of content (both good and bad) that tells us how to perform a task, provides information we didn’t know, educates in new ways, or simply entertains us. For many searchers, this content is good content.
The other day I did some searches on how to clean the creosote from my wood burner. I read some step-by-step guides, watched some videos and then set out trying out different methods. Then I learned about the “top-down” method of building a fire. I’ve tried it. It works. I love it!
Yay for me, I’m learning new tricks.
While all the content I consumed on this topic served my purposes, did it serve the purpose of the sites that posted it? As helpful as that content was for me, did it meet the goals those sites set out to achieve? Maybe they were just in it for the ads (which I didn’t click on), or they offer products for my wood burner (which I didn’t buy). I honestly don’t know, because I was just there to get information I wanted and then I was gone.
Did any of those sites gain anything? Not from me. Heck, I don’t even know if I would recognize any of those sites if I were to land on them again.
If a Tree Falls in The Woods…
I suppose if I was a wood burner enthusiast, I would be more inclined to dig further into these sites. I might also spend some time reading comments and then comment myself after having tried out the different methods. I might look for sites where engagement is high, and I could bat ideas and thoughts back and forth about different wood burner tips, fire-building strategies, cleaning the pipes, etc. But that’s not me. I’m just a “get in, get the info, and get out” kind of guy.
If a tree falls in the woods, it still makes a sound. But if you put out content that people don’t engage with, the impact is missing. The point is, content alone only goes so far, especially for people like me. But for people like my wife, who is much more social than I am, content needs to come with the community as well. She is looking for a place to engage, interact and learn what others have to say about whatever content she just consumed.
For content to be effective it must be much more than just words on a page. Adding more content to your site is not a magic solution to success. But what does build success is creating a great user experience, and providing the right balance of information and customer engagement. You need content that gives visitors what they want and then propels them to whatever goals you have established. That is done by more than words alone!