Everything is content

In late August 2013, around the time US commuters were arriving home from work on the east coast, a rare event took place: Google experienced an outage.; a 5-minute outage at that. And global web traffic dropped a staggering 40%. That’s not a typo!!

Like a monopoly or not, you can’t ignore Google’s dominance of search. And while various anti-competitive law suits have sought to temper its reach and influence, there’s no denying the simple fact that to survive or even prosper in business today, you need to be a signed up organism within the Google ecosystem.

The [Not a valid template] back story

Caffeine (2009) – new architecture to cope with social media deluge and shorten indexing timeframe.

But it was still relatively easy to land a top-10 listing on a SERP, at least up until early 2011. You could create video, publish articles and blog post, and then use software to mass submit this content to multiple sites.

Everything changed with Panda in early 2011 when major directories lost 90% of their traffic overnight and content farms were obliterated. Quality content became the mantra.

Repetitive or machine-generated content, too many ads above the fold and multiple affiliate links were all assigned to purgatory.  But there were some teething issues; in particular, crawl errors and server inconsistencies around international optimisation efforts.

Enter the Penguin (April 2012)

Web sites large and small were flung to the outer reaches of cyber searches. Penguin went to the heart of manipulative techniques, successfully shifting the focus from ‘link building’ to ‘link earning’. A pigeon update then made life difficult for torrent sites like Pirate Bay.

Knowledge graph (early 2013) – the beginning of semantic search; taking multiple information sources and contextually displaying responses/answers that may nullify the need for user to navigate elsewhere.

Amit Singhal, senior VP and software engineer at Google, asserted that from this point on, search needed to answer, converse and anticipate.

Hummingbird (late 2013) effectively future proofed the seismic move to mobile and voice as the primary search function around context, history and behaviour. It has also increased the importance of socially connected content and conversational keywords.

For business, the emphasis on quality content post Hummingbird requires a complete reassessment of resourcing.

Subsequent updates have ushered in the absolute need for an integrated strategy embracing content, marketing and SEO. This in turn requires a massive investment in time and resources, as training, workshops, schedules and deadlines have become mandatory parts of any such strategy.

To even come close to pulling this off demands 2 things of any business:

  • Sustained top-level buy-in
  • The right personnel equipped to deliver on the digital vision.

How far is your business down this path?

Understanding the key elements of content, those that drive engagement, sharing, advocacy and attraction, is the first step towards increased brand presence and revenue.

However, this requires a fairly high level of leadership, creativity and expertise. Only by relentlessly building on these elements can you hope to drive sustained demand across any range of products and services offered.

Amplifying content is the strategic answer

Easier said than done. Build it, test it, monitor it, tweak it. Repeat indefinitely.  But not with any old content. Remember, Google now demands quality content that must embrace (or at least consider as part of the strategy conversation):

  1. SEO – unique metadata, URL optimsation
  2. Structure with hierarchical heading tags for enhanced readability and user experience
  3. Talented copywriters and editors
  4. Social media (and that means different approaches for each channel, but must consider LinkedIn)
  5. Email marketing via newsletters and lists
  6. In-depth articles with a sweet-spot of around 1500 words each
  7. Influencer outreach – recruiting objective commentators to extend your message
  8. Technical promotion – pinging and URL submission for speedier indexing
  9. Offline promotion – trade press, media releases, PR.

Bottom line is value. That is, your content must provide some utilitarian benefit for customers. Humans first; robots second.

Primary source: TrinityP3 Digital Marketing Handbook