It’s not about content.
Content is merely the mechanical process to deliver communication and persuasion.
That is what it’s really about.
Communication and persuasion, everything else is created to support it.
If you are ADD you can stop reading now, the above 4 lines will be the best thing you have learned today.
For those who like to go a little deeper, read one
Content marketing has been around for a while, but I think most businesses have not fully understood it. Some see it as a way to provide more fodder for the Google bot (have you seen its love of corporate brands, it’s not that bright). Others see it as a way to sell more stuff, to get people on their website and get their credit cards out.
Neither are bad things to happen, but they are not the most effective results you can get from content marketing. For a long time, those in online marketing (in those days they called themselves SEOs) published content to get the title tag hit and pull in the traffic from Google, add in a few paid for guest posts, the writing off-shored to reduce costs and bada bing, get aboard the cash flow train for a two year holiday in San Francisco (and yes I did this).
Now, along comes the Hummingbird algo and things all get semantic, contextual and lots of other words that will not get you laid at a Dolce and Gabbana party, and the old techniques no longer work. The SEO agency changes name to become a content marketing agency (look, I did SEO for about a week when I set up this domain in 2007, I quickly changed tack to linkbait, which has now evolved to content marketing strategy and I am too lazy to change from Cornwallseo.com), and again this is not a bad thing, indeed it makes perfect business sense.
This of course greatly annoys the SEO who sees the role as a vocation, rather than a job. Somewhat akin to a travelling Buddhist Monk whose calling is to travel the land in a Ben Sherman shirt to optimise websites for small bowls of Chile Doritos and Dr Pepper.
Because Google still relies on links, they are still important. In my opinion I think they are deliberately obfuscating their use of social activity as a signal, probably because it could be gamed. But social is important in its own right, regardless of whether Google use it.
Which brings me to the point of this post, “Why waste money on content marketing?”. I think the answer that most people would have hanging in their head but would never iterate in a verbalised format is that they “hope” content marketing would work.
The data however is against them. Consider a research report published by Buzzsumo.com:
The research, which analyzed the shares and links of 1 million posts, found a low level of content engagement they characterized as “striking:”
* 50% of randomly selected posts received 8 shares or less
* 75% of these posts received 39 shares or less
* 75% of these posts achieved zero referring domain links
Now, these are only the posts that they found, we don’t know how much content gets published that does not even get found by the Buzzsumo search bot.
Maybe you think this is OK for 50% of posts to receive 8 shares or less because the other 50% of the blog posts a business is putting out gets 1,000’s of shares. But if you look at most blogs you see that the share is consistent. It either gets a huge amount of shares consistently, or it gets a little amount consistently.
In other words, it’s not the content that is driving the shares.
If it were, when the likes of Seth Godin writes stuff that is a tad crusty around the edges he wouldn’t still gets links and social shares.
It’s the culture, the brand, the emotional connection between the reader and everything the piece of content represents. It is not the content in isolation. You couldn’t get anything doing without content of course, it is essential, but it is only part of what makes the piece of content successful.
I have said in the past that the Secret of Ranking in Google is to build great content, but it’s not enough. It’s essential, but only gets you to the starting point.