Wednesday, September 9, 2015

Does Your Content Count?

Earlier this year, we wrote about the new content marketing rage, which we deemed to be ridiculous. As we noted then, what is marketing if not the projection of content? In traditional marketing, for example, the product itself--the packaging, suggested use, and name--is all content. We must admit, however, our post was a bit disingenuous.

Content marketing, at least as its understood today, refers to writing--or more explicitly, to writing that is intended to engage an audience with the objective of "driving profitable action." (That last quote, from the Content Marketing Institute, obscures the point; the objective, obviously, is to sell). This definition does sound an awful lot like a traditional definition of marketing. So why the emphasis on this new phrase--"content" marketing.

The best we can tell is that, in today's environment, the written word is the best way to increase your authority--and your search rankings. Perhaps this is why content marketing is so popular among the SEO community. So popular, in fact, that content marketing is already experiencing a backlash.

Analysts are predicting "content shock," a glut of content that will repel readers.

Here's a handy graphic from Mark Schaefer:

Oh no, it's coming! CONTENT SHOCK!

Eric Enge, over at Moz, summarized Schaefer's view--as well as the opposition to his view--in a recent post: "A Clear Path for Marketers to Surviving Content Shock."

We believe the hubbub is much ado about nothing. What is the Internet, after all, but an endless glut of content? We all have our ways of sorting through this glut; of discovering our preferred content. And, of course, the best content will always be a viable means to "driving profitable action."

Our advice: do not pay a lick of attention to articles extolling the popularity or the demise of content marketing. Far more important, we believe, are the few statistics Enge shares from a recent Moz study: "Content, Shares, and Links: Insights from Analyzing 1 Million Articles."

The study shows that most content receives little attention. As Enge notes, of the one million articles analyzed, "75% showed no external links" and "over 50% had 2 or fewer Facebook interactions (shares, likes, or comments)."

To summarize: Content can be valuable for marketing--if the content drives profitable action. Yet this is clearly not the case for a majority of the writing on the Internet. So should you spend your time creating content?

Yes, of course. But with this advice, we add a strong caveat: make the content count. If you're creating content with the explicit purpose of selling something (anything) and the content is not doing so--well, you're wasting time and money. So you have a simple choice:

1. Stop creating content (a terrible choice)
2. Create better content (a spectacular choice)

Of course, creating better content is easier said than done.

Before you even attempt to create content that works, for example, make sure you write well. If you do not write well, hire someone to write well. Otherwise, forget about it.

If you do write well (or have the means to hire someone who writes well), start thinking about how to write content that works. From the Organic SEO Blog, please read:

1. Three Keys to Writing SEO-Friendly Content That Inspires People to Share

2. Two Simple Questions to Inspire New Content

And for a different perspective, read this recent article from Jayson Demers:

7 Reasons Your Content Isn't Getting Shared

Questions? Comments? Please drop a line below...

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