Even if you’ve been at it a while, you might want to check your definition in light of the Hummingbird Algorithm change at Google.
This change values the quality of content:
Quality ultimately trumps keywords now. Keywords, of course, have driven so much of online marketing since the very beginning, so it’s a significant change.
At its most rudimentary, content marketing is content (articles, video, podcasts, webinars, memes etc.) created to attract an audience and drive subsequent sales, leads or donations.
The rise of content marketing:
Content marketing is important enough that 90% of marketers say they plan to up their budgets for it in the coming year.
Content marketing has clearly gone mainstream, and quickly too for an activity that didn’t even really formally exist less than a decade ago. Now it is one of the most important foundations of any successful PR or marketing campaign.
So why the change?
But as everyone has gotten in on the action, the internet has been flooded with a lot of mediocre and even very bad content.
And Google wisely recognized that people don’t want more content. They want great content, content that gives them what they need when they need it.
Google’s value depends on people getting the experience they are looking for when they search for something on Google. And that means that Google has decided it’s time to start rewarding good content over bad content.
What you need to know:
Whenever you write something for a website, you are writing for two audiences:
- The people you hope will read it
- The bots that “read” content looking for keywords that indicate what it’s about
The best of content marketing balances the needs of both of these types of readers. Keywords pull in the bots. But it takes great, exciting, illuminating and unexpected content to engage human visitors and make them feel valued. That builds trust.
But when it’s bad:
The worst in content marketing favours the bots, creating content that adds no real value to the human reader. In the past, this content did a great job of pulling people into a site but it didn’t do much to make visitors feel good about the information or the brand offering it.
Bad content wastes people’s time. And it leaves them feeling worse about a brand.
If you asked the marketer who created the last piece of bad or boring content you consumed “what is content marketing,” they probably would have told you that it was a way to drive as many people to a landing page as possible.
But consumers of content want more:
Smart marketers want to give it to them. And Google wants to help.
The best in content marketing does one of two things, sometimes both at the same time:
- It solves a problem
- It tells a story
Start with the customer:
Great content marketing doesn’t just happen. It starts with a content strategy that is built around the needs of your customers and clients.
It is an endless loop of listening and responding. The customer is an active part of the dialogue and all of the content is built around either solving a problem or creating an experience that is deeply memorable or moving.
Great content starts with that premise that the visitor has a lot of other places to be and whatever you give them had better be worth their time.
Bad content marketing figures out what you want to say and then tries to squeeze the customer in around that.
Google’s changes mean the question “what is content marketing” has a much better answer than it did just a little while ago.
But only if you’re creating great content and engaging meaningfully with your customers.