SBMT #6 - Is Content Really King?

Everyone who works in internet marketing, advertising and really most people in business of any sort today have heard the phrase “Content is King.” The quote usually attributed to Bill Gates, circa 1996. Well guess what, it’s absolutely true, Content is King.

So if everyone has heard it before, and if everyone “knows” that content is king, why are we talking about it? Because you’d be hard pressed to know it, based on the tactics still at work in the Web-Design and SEO community today. Link exchanges still alive, technologists and web-designers that will claim that it’s acceptable to optimize a site after its layout is complete.

A significant portion of the internet community either isn’t convinced, or is resisting this truth, or just doesn’t understand how to adequately react to the new and constantly changing internet landscape.

Algorithms vs. Affinity

There are two big reasons why content really is the key to sustainable growth. It comes down to the two fundamental forces that power the internet, people and algorithms.

A handful of search engines with Google way out in the lead, and a handful of social media sites with Facebook again way out in front, have a huge influence on what content you are served. Both of these companies use algorithms to determine which sites and or which content you see. Algorithms are at work in serving sites in search engine results, as well as in serving paid advertisements in both search and in social media.

These algorithms are constantly being refined and updated to try to make them more effective. Google, unquestionably the most sophisticated as well as the most widely used internet traffic cop, has over the last two years with successive updates to ‘Panda’ and ‘Penguin’ refined how results are served in ways that simulate artificial intelligence and emulate human tastes. So the second factor, actual people's tastes, are becoming more and more the way that the first factor behaves as well. 

Gone are the days when a handful of low value SEO tricks will be sufficient to get eyeballs to your website.  No more can you pass yourself off as an expert without keeping up to date on how these algorithms are changing. And most of all, no longer can you fake content, copy and paste unoriginal material, and use a bunch of meta-tags to hijack traffic. Today you can no longer overlook actual design in your site, load your above-the-fold real estate with banners and think you’re going to get away with it. You can’t even have a visually unpleasing site designed to attract search-bots if not people, the search engine AI is now programmed to think like a person, giving points for aesthetics in addition to copy and content.

Today, if you want to get the job done, you have to actually do your job. Update your properties regularly and with original content. Make sure that your content is relevant to your traffic. Ultimately if people don’t like your content, the machines aren’t going to think much of it either.

Be judicious with your use of meta-tags, be focused and specific; keyword stuffing will not only fail to help your traffic, it’s going to have a negative impact instead.

Another way to look at your tactics is this, if you don’t see the value in them, the search engines and your human traffic probably won’t recognize any value in them either. For better and for worse, this is the nature of the internet today.