Content is no longer king. Today, content marketing is king.
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Successful content marketing is not about volume, it is about being an expert and helping others. Branding and reputation follow from this, as does trust. People want to do business with people they trust, and that is what it is all about. Let’s explore some of the many factors that are behind these new realities:
1. The number of channels to market your product and publish your content is virtually unlimited. You can use your own web site, mobile applications, newsletters, articles or columns on 3rd party web sites, books or ebooks you publish, Facebook, Twitter, Google+, YouTube, Pinterest, Tumblr, the list goes on an on. More new channels emerge every year.
All of these channels provide opportunities to deliver messaging to potential prospects and customers.
2. Money draws a crowd, and as a result, content has flooded every available channel. As of May 2013, YouTube was getting 100 hours of videos uploaded every minute. Their growth curve is meteoric, and it is continuing:
This phenomenon is not limited to YouTube. There is endless content on nearly any topic. Imagine you sell something relatively uncommon, such as gopher traps. There are still 859 pages on the web that have the phrase gopher traps in the title tag for their web page!
No matter what you sell, the story is the same:
|Product/Service||# of Competing Pages|
|Nose Picking Services||15|
|Left Handed Golf Clubs||5,940|
|Sunglass Repair Kits||295|
|Door Opening Service||681|
|Home Hair Cutter||750|
|Shoe Tying Service||19|
|Tire Inflation Machines||443|
The above table is meant to show that even the strangest types of things have competition. Try a query like this on something like “mortgage tips” and you get over 6,000 results.
The bottom line – whatever you desire to rank for, you have lots of competition.
3. Consumers and businesses are more sophisticated about what they see online. Their ability to recognize the difference between quality content and crappy content has grown. They are also demanding more from the companies that they buy from. They increasingly want to feel like they have a relationship.
Smart businesses think of this like a sales funnel:
Who gets to the bottom of the funnel with a prospect? The businesses that the prospects trust.
4. Google has greatly improved its ability to detect and punish low quality content. For over a decade most SEOs focused on doing “what worked” in Google, instead of focusing on building brand and reputation for their clients. This came about because Google had limited capability to stop them from doing that, but the past 3 years have brought about a sea change. Google has dramatically increased their capability to punish bad actors and reward those who publish great content:
This stream of updates by Google are all attacks on people trying to game the Google system to get search traffic. Bottom line is that the business plan of “abusing Google” is becoming a thing of the past.
All these factors add up to your needing to do something to stand out. You are going to have to fight for visibility and attention.
The title of this post says it all: Be an Expert or Go Home..
Seriously. You know your business. That’s why you are in it. Now take that expertise and share it. Add value to others online. Solve their problems for free. Write about trends in your industry. Predict the future. Interact with other experts. Interact and engage with others, even your competition.
Don’t just hire a writer that is going to try to get smart about your topic area in 30 minutes before creating a key piece of content. This type of content will be easily exposed by true experts, and may well embarrass you. That does not mean you can’t hire a writer to help you, but give them the time to learn the topic very well, or use them to help your true expert write the article by giving them something to edit.
Having an expert is just the start. Once that is done you will need a coordinated plan to publish that great content, promote it with social media, develop relationships with other media and influencers, and iterate and improve over time. A strong SEO strategy also plays a role in pulling it all together. When you are done, you will have the makings of a great content marketing strategy, and it might look a bit like this:
Remember though, it all starts with having something unique and worthwhile to say. Adding to the noise won’t cut it anymore.
This may all sound like a lot of work and effort. You may wonder if its worth it. Consider the alternative – a world where your competition is doing a great job of content marketing with their expert and you are not. They will be raking in new business as a reward for their efforts, and you? Where will you be?
Eric Enge is the CEO of Stone Temple Consulting, an digital marketing agency with offices in Framingham, Massachusetts, and Walnut Creek, California. Eric writes regularly for the Stone Temple Consulting Blog, Search Engine Land, Search Engine Watch, and Copyblogger. Eric is also the lead co-author for The Art of SEO.