Part 1: Content for Content’s Sake.
The internet has changed dramatically since I built my first website in 1996. Not the dawn of the internet, of course, but I do miss the sound of my 56k dial-up modem, and embracing the wonders of what was a new, growing, and evolving source of information. Back then, it was harder, it was slower, and as a result the people putting their words onto pixels had something of a passion or purpose behind their writing. In this context, my first website was devoted to Pearl Jam lead guitarist Mike McCready, and like other music fan sites, I wanted to cover everything I knew about my idol and share it with the world. That was before the new millenium. Things have changed a great deal since, and this article discusses how the internet is becoming full of amplified noise. And not in the vein of Jimi Hendrix’s star spangled banner. In the following article I will detail how, why and even provide some examples of how content has a very important place in an organisation’s marketing mix.
The dot-com bubble was perhaps the first hint of how the money-side of the internet can go bad. Leading up to the early 2000’s venture capitalists got excited about and invested in nothing. The value of a great domain is still apparent however, and unfortunately the .COM domain you want for that revolutionary idea you’re about to have is most likely already owned by someone else. I speculate that the cool new TLDs like .SHOP and .LIVE will provide a desperately needed refresh of how one can represent their space online.
Nowadays, the number of websites in cyberspace is massive, and growing exponentially. Check out: http://royal.pingdom.com/2013/01/16/internet-2012-in-numbers/
News, blog, forum, business, social network, and eCommerce are just some of the categories of sites making up the inter-web. And, if you manage to get off facebook or twitter you’ll most likely use Google search to find the information, products, and services these websites provide. Countless websites and primarily one search engine to find them on. Google’s dominance of the search engine space, in my opinion comes down to what was, at the time, a better product. That said, the anatomy of Google’s search engine featured PageRank, and this, in essence, put a dollar value on hypertext links between websites. With PageRank, and Google’s growth, search engine optimisation became a sort after service and the SEO industry had a seemingly bright future.
In 2011, Google search changed to address the negative tactics employed by content-farms, spammy black-hat SEOs, and dodgy web-masters. These changes are important in explaining how the overall quality of the internet has amplified noise. Google introduced Panda and Penguin changes to the search space in 2011 and 2012, respectively. The schoolboy white hat SEO would suggest these measures were taken to protect the important search user experience. Other may connect the dots between organic search ranking manipulation, the very profitable SEO agency industry, to Google’s high revenue earnings from search advertising channels. Whichever way you want to look at it, some major brands, especially in competitive spaces have taken a hard kick in the teeth. An example includes Interflora, who prior to valentines day 2013, had their search listings (even for their brand-name) wiped off the face of search result pages. Why? Check this out for more information on why Interflora got slapped.
Now (2013) more than ever, I often see and hear SEO being portrayed as a dark, untrustworthy, unreliable way to gain traffic, with the alternative of AdWords search advertising a more solid alternative. But not every website has a marketing goal or value proposition that attracts cost efficient advertised
If you are a website owner, or if you are familiar with search engines, you may already know who Matt Cutts is. And with that you’ve no doubt heard:
CONTENT IS KING or GREAT CONTENT or any other CONTENT related statements and answers. As 2013 draws to a close, the buzz around content-marketing, inbound marketing, quality-content, content-creation is everywhere. And now, websites left, right and centre are churning out content for content’s sake. There’s a statement I’ve heard all too often in the context of content: Website’s that blog daily get 5 times more traffic. I’ve said this myself to ensure clients understand the importance of regular announcements, press releases, news, info-graphics, and unique information that pertains to their target audience. But it’s the all-important reason and purpose for producing web-content that is being missed by many.
Another example of ‘more content, more often‘ was the recent blunder by a journalist who mistakenly published an article stating that the Irish president was gay. Beyond the easily-avoidable copy & paste error, the incident highlights that numerous (supposedly) quality newspaper websites such as Forbes are paying little for more and more content. http://www.independent.ie/
Newspapers aren’t the only business model that have to monetise their digital channels, while their traditional sales channels shrink. But I struggle to think of an example where any traditional/non-digital business shouldn’t have progressively and creatively jumped online, invested in market research (online segmentation), established conversion goals, and grown customer databases at the very first opportunity, now decades ago. I also struggle to understand how or why the buzz phrase; QUALITY CONTENT is in anyway a remarkably new phenomenon for marketing professionals, good-SEOs, business owners and the like. Content marketing ensures your value proposition, and your brand is exposed to online audiences. And, any content marketing strategy that isn’t 100% integrated with an organisation’s complete marketing plan, is just noise.