In the past, the junk outweighed the good, healthy content.
Now things are different. What does the future hold?
It’s a Whole New World Out There!
All references to algorithm changes aside, SEO is going places and taking content marketing along for the ride! In days past it wasn’t unusual to see a lot of quantity over quality; the value of a piece of content was based on the number of links it contained, and according to this content marketing strategy, the more of these pieces of content one could publish, the better their rankings would be. While we’ll never know if the web would have quietly revolted against this sort of content in its own time, it was bound to happen sooner or later. There is only so much pressure something can take; in other words, “Something’s gotta give!”
Regardless of the why, it is indisputable that the world wide web is changing every day, and that means SEO and content marketing are changing as well. Many of the methods that used to be highly effective have lost much of their influence and are being discarded in favor of better alternatives. An example would be mass article directory submission via automated software; are some people still using it? Sure. But with the value of many of the free directories that these programs can submit to cut down to almost nothing, someone could continue to submit to them all day and still not receive the same benefit that they would if they created one high-quality piece and published it selectively through other channels.
New approaches to web content development and marketing focus (for the most part) on quality over quantity, and originality over “percentage of uniqueness”. There are still benefits to be found in volume, but it is the kind of volume that must be built over time. Content marketing for SEO is not dead, it has merely turned over a new leaf.
The Way It Used To Be
In just the past two years the web has seen the rise and fall of many popular systems, programs, and trends that were aimed at making content marketing and distribution “quicker and more efficient” for their users.
A very common system was found in article marketing specifically:
- Step 1: Buy article spinner and mass directory submitter
- Step 2: Buy inexpensive content online
- Step 3: Spin content using the automatic spin feature of article spinner
- Step 4: Take the resulting spintax, place in directory submitter
- Step 5: Hit “Send” and watch the links roll in
There were variations on this method of course, but the end result was usually the same. The sad part about this is that at its core, the ideas behind this system are not bad ones. When done correctly, spinning can produce perfectly useful, interesting, and enjoyable content. When directories are chosen carefully and content is distributed slowly, naturally, and on a much more limited basis, it can be a great way to share your content with the world. The trouble came in when more and more aspects of SEO and content marketing were being automated, and a few (okay, a lot) of bad apples began to ruin the bunch for everyone involved. People were being encouraged to abandon their laborious efforts and embrace this new content marketing strategy, because more = better so why not get as much as you can as fast as you can?
For a time, this and other similar methods were golden, and early adopters and those who knew something everyone else didn’t were raking in money hand over fist. When they spoke of their success, other listened, and soon there were companies that did nothing but develop and support automated software! And of course there needed to be places to put all of this content; article directories, blogs, and other networks sprung up overnight, ready and willing to accept any content that was submitted to them. Content for SEO became little more than a vehicle for link-building… because wasn’t value of content measured by the number of links it contained?
Over time, this over-population of content flooded the internet, taking over and often-times completely displacing more valuable content. It was a case of volume over substance, and many people were starting to grow weary of wading through all of the dirt just to get to the diamonds!
Something had to change…
Content Marketing – What’s Your Plan Of Attack? [Infographic]
The Way It Is Now
Now, things are different.
The down-and-dirty secrets and get-rich-quick gurus are fading quietly into the night; at least, those who advocated, promoted, or sold these automated programs or ran the networks that supported them. Slowly and with varying degrees of effectiveness, the web is slowly turning to face a brighter future. Google has made several major changes to the complex algorithms that it uses to determine the value of a website (and its content) and these changes have resulted in a dramatic shift in the definition of acceptable content.
The SEO benefits of content are still much the same in that content is still great for SEO. The question now is, “What makes a great content marketing strategy work?”
Where content marketing used to be all about quantity, the focus has shifted to quality. Where a brute-force, victory by numbers approach was effective, targeted efforts are now winning the day!
The nature of the content being marketed has also changed. In many past cases, content marketers were focused on text only content like articles and blog posts. There were some who were branching out, but it was not a very popular -or perhaps we should say it was not a widely adopted- practice (especially in relation to the crowd that favored automation) to make use of media-based content, i.e. videos, podcasts, or graphics. Now it is much more commonplace to see videos, podcasts, and infographics right there alongside the text!
The Way It Will Be
Where is the future of content marketing headed?
Video: The Future of Article Marketing: What You Need to Know
Some ( like the speaker in the video above) believe that the future is already here!
Others see content marketing continuing to progress and moving along the path it is now on. With a focus more on the end consumer of the content, writing for people versus search engines, and learning from past mistakes content marketers can continue to refine their understanding of what good content should be and work on expanding their audience from there. Is it going to be easy? Heck no! But if it was, everybody would be doing it and we would be back in the same boat, up a creek without a paddle and waiting for the other shoe to drop. Is content marketing worth the effort? Only you can decide!
What is YOUR plan of attack? How do you plan on approaching content marketing now and in the future?