The Golden Era of content marketing

For years, content marketing was in a Golden Era. Organizations that wrote good, unique content, could fairly easily rank well in search and get at least moderate social traction.

At an early content marketing conference I heard someone say, “If you write it, they will come.”

And for the most part, that was true.

The driving force behind the Golden Era of content marketing was a content deficit. People wanted to consume more content than what was available – so when a new piece of content came along that helped solve their problem, they devoured it, shared it, and linked to it from their own content.

Ah, it was a great time to be a content marketer…

Then we had to ruin it

Seeing the success that was being had in content marketing, organizations of all sizes wanted in on the action. A mass influx of content from new players upped the supply of “good” content for users, while user demand for that content started to level out.

In our excitement to latch onto an emerging trend and reap its rewards, we ruined the whole thing. The supply of content outpaced the demand consumers had for the content.

In 2014, Mark Schaefer coined the term “content shock” to describe this phenomenon.

What is content shock?

If you build it, they probably WON’T come

If you are writing 400 word blog posts, publishing them, and then hoping that doing that 2-3 times per week is going to build your blog into an industry leading resource, I sincerely hope it works for you.

But if it’s not working, content shock is probably why.

People aren’t clamoring for the next good blog post. They’re already overwhelmed with the glut of content out there. A good blog post just becomes white noise in a sea of static.

How do you overcome content shock?

There’s no silver bullet to overcoming content shock. There’s no quick fix that makes your content suddenly stand out. But below are two overarching themes that seem to be must-haves in modern content marketing.

  1. It has to be a resource that fully solves the problem or intent of the person reading it. For example, a post about the 10 things you must see at Yellowstone can’t just be a simple bulleted list of 10 items. People want you to show WHY those are must sees. They will also want to see images of those places, videos, a map of how to get to them, etc. This content provides real value to your audience.
  2. It needs enough promotion to lift it out of the sea of static and put it into an orbit where your audience will engage with it, and where search engines will see its value as well. Without this initial lift, your content will not move. No matter how many times you poke it with a stick and say, “Do something.”

Don’t go chasing waterfalls

Another thing to keep in mind is that the more competitive a topic or keyword is, the less likely you are to rank for it in search. When coming up with content ideas, take this into consideration.

For example, at Ceralytics we provide solutions for content marketers. But we don’t write content that is strictly devoted to only the topic of “content marketing.” That topic has a search difficulty of 95/100. We know it would not be fruitful for us to go after a topic like that. It’s simply too crowded.

However, we identified the term “content marketing newsletter” as a current gap in our content when compared to our competition (we used our Competitive Gaps report to identify it.) The topic “content marketing newsletters” has a difficulty of 30/100, which meant the competition for it wasn’t very high. So we went after it.

We published the 13 Best Content Marketing Newsletters, which is a simple, yet fully researched piece of content that gives our audience value. As of this writing, we rank #3 organically for “content marketing newsletters” in Google, and it is the most viewed post in the history of our blog.

Oh, and the post is barely a month old.

If you’re a major brand, and your site has a ton of search authority, you will start at an advantage to go after more difficult topics. Larger brands usually have more resources to create more robust content but also the power to promote it more than smaller brands.

If you’re a small to medium-sized brand, ranking for a very competitive topic is going to be a bigger battle, because it will take up a lot of resources and may still not work in the end. But topics with less competition, like the “content marketing newsletters” example above, are more attainable for those of us without eight or nine digit marketing budgets.

But regardless of how crowded the topic’s space is, remember that the content you create still has to solve the user’s problem and/or intent.

About Sketchalytics

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