It wouldn’t be an exaggeration to say that content marketing is definitely in vogue with marketers across the B2B and B2C spectrum. It has spawned a cottage industry of books, conferences and the inevitable “gurus”
But while I’m as big a fan of the latest Facebook meme as the next guy, I reckon it is the science of content marketing, not the art, where much of the untapped opportunity still lies.
Sure content still has to fulfil a purpose – educate, inform, entertain – but it is the black art of search, algorithms and devices that can make the difference between the greatest piece of content no-one ever saw and the piece that went (insert dreaded word) viral.
Some tips then on ensuring that all the hours spent creating the ideal piece of content aren’t all for naught.
Remember the basics: For many consumers Google is their default starting point on any online journey – as high as 63% of US consumers use it daily. Sure they may have clicked through from your brilliant banner or followed a link from their friends Facebook feed but chances are, they start by searching. Especially if it’s an unfamiliar category or one they’re researching in some detail. In recent research search ranking was ranked as the 3rd most important contributor to perceptions of a brand – and this was before they’d even interacted with the content! Being findable remains Job 1.
Know your algorithms: If you’re a content creator you need to understand how search engines read and interpret your content. While there really are rocket scientists at Google and Facebook perfecting this stuff, you can’t hope for your FB content to succeed if you don’t understand how Edgerank works. In simple terms, fresh/new content trumps old/tired content. Well “liked” content or content with numerous comments, remarks and interactions will outrank boring, dead and stale. Likewise if there is a strong affinity between the poster of the content and the supposed audience, then SCORE, your content gets ranked higher or shows up more frequently. Affinity? Simple. If your content gets shared or generates comments/uploads etc, that’s the stuff Zuckerberg and friends will promote…because, quite simply, that highlights your content has real value to your audience. Obvious stuff but it directly impacts how you craft your content and how you entice your audience to interact with it. The days of Facebook as a broadcast platform are over.
Trying to “game” the algorithms is futile: With an Interbrand valuation of over $55billion and a struggling social platform, you can expect Google is throwing tremendous weight behind getting their core search product offering right. In previous years dodgy backlinks might’ve fooled the spiders but the recent launches of Panda and Penguin is making that kinda nefarious behaviour unwise. Where blog networks and article sharing sites might’ve historically enhanced your organic search rankings, the new algorithms see through that and downgrade you accordingly. Like Edgerank, Panda and Penguin give credit where content is considered valuable by the audience. Stuffing every whitepaper with trending Keywords aint considered valuable. Content that has social value does. Content that gets a few +1′s definitely is.
Personally I’m all for content being “judged” on its ability to satisfy a consumer need. Whether its a comparison engine on Expedia or another video of cats playing the piano, content must genuinely help. Brands committed to providing that help through valuable content creation deserve every break they get.
How are you revising your content creation to ensure you’re getting the most from search?
I am far from an expert in search and its complexities. When I’ve got a question on the subject I turn to three sources that are. Mei, Nick and Magnus are definitely a cut above. If you’ve got a search question, I’d suggest seeking their opinion.