In February 2011, Google put an end to thin, keyword-stuffed content with a seismic change to its algorithm. The change affected 11.8% of search queries, and caused some sites to drop out of the SERPs overnight. As we approach the 4th anniversary of the original Panda update, what are our logical next steps in content marketing? And what have we learned from the mistakes of the past?
Despite being hit by many successive updates, brands remain committed to the cause. Content marketing continues to be a key inbound marketing tactic, proven by the amount of content we’re collectively uploading to the web every day. For example, there are two million posts published on WordPress.com every day, and 113.6 million posts added daily to Tumblr. Add in all of the content uploaded to YouTube, business websites, and other blog platforms, and you begin to realise how important it is to be heard above the noise.
In addition to increasing engagement, businesses must now battle content clutter and deliver increasing value and authenticity in what they post. As we look to 2016, we’re also going to see an increased focus on the bottom line: the return we get from the content we invest in.
Thin content is most definitely out, and quality is in. For most brands, quality means answering questions. That provides value for our readers, and a better user experience. Evergreen content and pillar posts are vital as part of a carefully planned strategy across different channels. As content marketing matures, so do its consumers—they want more detailed, more visually appealing content, and they have higher expectations of what your brand can provide.
To cut through the increasing content clutter, marketers are also looking to different channels, and resurrecting some techniques that have been neglected so far. The humble podcast is also coming of age thanks to some of the world’s biggest brands, moving from a hobbyist activity into the core of content marketing campaigns.
Why the sea change? Audio and video content can be branded easily, without cutting into the editorial themes of the content. Additionally, podcasts offer a great platform for advertising, and in the age of the ad-blocker, that’s an opportunity well worth exploring.
The more we learn about content marketing, the more we learn to see the bigger picture. Thankfully, success is no longer measured in ‘Likes’ and shares; it’s about being part of the research journey, building trust in a brand, and figuring out how to play the long game.
As you develop your strategy for 2016, think about ways content can be a component in both lead warming and nurturing, as well as providing the authority and trust you need to increase your bottom line. Apart from increasing the depth of content, it’s important to consider the channels and media you use to get your brand message across. To get the best ROI, marketers need to focus on efficient management to ensure that effort is not wasted, and that their budgets are always focused on productive outcomes.