Content Marketing – Don't Believe the Hype!

Content marketing is all the rage these days. If you’re on Twitter you can’t escape it… but what does it really mean for businesses? Most of the articles and posts I’ve seen seem much more applicable to a person or a major brand rather than a “regular” business.

What do I mean by this?

We’ve all read about how SEO in its traditional format is dead (as it is every few months it seems). And now content marketing is the new path to search results relevance (along with authorship, according to many!). As a long time SEO practitioner, content marketing makes a lot of sense to me. Quality SEO has always, at its core, been about content. I’m on board with creating great content. I encourage clients to get on board with creating great (and optimized!) content.

Where the wheels come off a little bit for me when I read about content marketing strategy is in the HOW for businesses. I think it is easy for those of us who work in the internet sector to forget that not all industries are as sexy as ours. Creating interesting, timely and shareable content is (relatively) easy for us – technology is changing every day. There are literally at least 3 things I want to write about every day. Finding the time to do so needs to be its own post!

But what about regular businesses and industries? How realistic is it to set the goal for them to regularly create shareable content? There are definitely some areas for content development and marketing for every business that I absolutely love:

  • creating posts or articles answering common customer questions
  • providing brief commentary and links to relevant media stories
  • creating case studies or project summaries outlining successes
  • testimonial stories and/or videos from your happy customers
  • blog posts about timely topics & industry news
  • time sensitive information like special offers, weekend specials, etc.

All of these tactics make total sense to me and I think most organizations should be able to manage at least one or two. And they are elements of good business and sound marketing practice. But let’s get down to the real question – how shareable and “likeable” is this content really going to be? Are you going to share that link from your plumber about toilet issues? How about from your accountant about business tax tips?  Or the latest industry news about green building in the modular industry? Or teeth whitening facts from your dentist?

This is where I think all the hype about content marketing falls flat as a major SEO tactic for many organizations.

Not all content is created equal – especially when it comes to social channels. You may be interested enough to read the above types of content, but are you going to share them with your social networks? Probably not. I am hopeful that Google and the other search engines will get out of the echo chamber of tech long enough to really think about this and how it will impact “regular” businesses. Most organizations do not have entire departments dedicated to creating content, social or otherwise. If this becomes the foundation for SEO going forward, I fear that all but the largest brands and personalities will be left behind.

The web used to be a place where Davids could readily compete with Goliaths. It seems like that is becoming harder and harder to do successfully – whether you’re trying to do it via SEO or even PPC.

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