Content Marketing is Stupid. Make Something Better.Shawn 02.05.2014
Last month, Google’s master of all things SEO and spam, Matt Cutts, announced “The Decay and Fall of Guest Blogging for SEO” and copywriters everywhere sounded the death knoll the death of content marketing.
I did a cartwheel.
Because I’m a good copywriter.
I didn’t become a writer to farm links and troll blogs begging for comments and shares. I write because I’m passionate to research interesting topics, craft well-written articles, and then share what I’ve learned with people searching for answers. I get off on providing value, and now thanks to the updated Penguin algorithm, I get to do that all day long.
An old marketing story goes something like this:
A man sitting in a crowded diner gets the attention of the owner and breathlessly says, “This place is packed every night of the week. What’s the secret to your success? Do you have a world-class chef? Great location? Customer loyalty programs?”
The owner smiles, and shakes his head.
“Well, what’s your secret?” the man begs.
The owner points to the flood of customers, and simply says, “A starving crowd.”
Despite what you’ve heard about diminished attention spans, mobile use, and the loss of readership, the internet is famished for great content.
DOMO’s fantastic infographic shows the thousands of blog posts, photos, likes, shares, check-ins, tweets, queries, emails, and downloads occur every single second of every single day. For reasons I can’t understand, content marketers see this as a bad thing. They complain about the saturation of SEO. They’re wrong.
Quantity isn’t quality. I feel silly stating something that basic, but apparently copywriters need this simple reminder – People want good stuff.
Every minute, people worldwide are devouring niche blog posts and Etsy articles with expert opinions. They’re consuming product reviews. They’re sharing and remastering photographs, and tumbling gifs. They’re pinning vacation destinations, streaming videos, and uploading playlists. As a content marketer you get to point out more and more of these awesome things for them. Your job is to participate in this awesome swirling chaos of “doing.” Your job is to tell people about All.The.Things.
Last month 20 million people watched Canadian astronaut, Chris Hadfield sing David Bowie’s “Space Oddity.” While he was in outer space. It was awesome, and people found it not because of link-building SEO strategies. They found it because Chris made something mundane.
Link farms are going fallow, and in the great SEO Dust Bowl of 2014, even tried and true practices – like guest blogging – are falling under the ‘Plex’s scrutiny because content marketing is changing.
But this doesn’t mean SEO is dead. Far from it.
As someone with a pathological need for attention – nay validation – I love writing in this brave new world populated by billions of rabid readers. I have to a starving crowd.
But it gets even better.
People don’t just want valuable information. They want lots of it. Specifically, they want lots of words.
I hear you scoffing (I did), but the average content length for the Top 10 Ranked Google Searches is 2,000 words.
Let me say that again. The Google-wide average length for front-page ranking sites is the equivalent of a 4-page essay.
(The #1 ranked searches average 2,416 words).
Not convinced? How about some examples:
QuickSprout CEO Neil Patel, wanted to improve the conversion rate of his landing page sales copy, so he A/B tested a new template (Neil likes to A/B test stuff). Like any savvy marketer his first instinct was to reduce his word count from 1,292 down to 488 – placing all of the information in the copy “above the fold” – that invisible horizon line on a website where the user has to scroll down to see more.
Makes sense, right? People don’t want to read all that junk. Just get to the CTA. But a strange thing happened with this new “user-optimized” format.
Conversions decreased by 7.6%.
Shortening his copy and staying “above the fold” actually lowered the profitability of his site.
The same thing happened with Highrise. They experimented with longform content on their domain page, lengthening the copy “below the fold” and were shocked to see a 37.5% increase in signups for their website.
Wait, what? I thought mobile use is the only way people browse. No one has time to read more than a tweet or giggle at a gif. Infographics and video are the only way to share dense information.
Cut back to me cartwheeling at the death of guest-blogging SEO…
People want longform written content because their drowning in a deluge of worthless drivel. They’re mired in mediocrity and reblogged crap, so when you provide them with value – a floatation device that pulls them up out the dross – they want more. They want a lifeboat, and rations, and signal flares, and any other tools and information you can provide.
In a sea of link farms, irrelevant guest posts, and SEO zombie strategies run amok, people are starving for something useful. As a content marketer, you get to help them find it.
There will always be tips and hacks – like Video Site-mapping and Targeted Keyword Searches to strengthen your PageRank, and those are awesome – but don’t lose sight of your goal as a copywriter or SEO marketer.
Your job is to create something worth reading – not just something worth ranking.
Content marketing is stupid. If you try a little harder, you’ll be surprised by how many people – and search algorithms – agree.