I’m happy. If you’re a marketer that takes content marketing seriously read on why. A few months ago I started writing a bunch of posts on the latest evolutions regarding content marketing.
When they are achieved I will tell you what they are however they include the demystification of some, well, myths and the correction of some…incorrect ‘best practices’ regarding content marketing that many people seem to take for granted based on the perceived authority of the prophets spreading them. The blogs by Joe and Robert treat some of them (and I’ll treat some of the same).
Content marketing myths: you’re too late for blogging and can’t be found for high-competition keywords anymore
One of those common myths: in this day and age, it’s impossible to launch a blog and achieve a decent position in search engines. Why? The real “strong” online media, big blogs really have become, simply don’t allow you to. And there is too much content (a truth however not a reason why you can’t start now or rank high anymore). That’s a blogging myth and thus also a content marketing myth (or in fact two).
Barely 2 months after the launch of this blog we rank we rank on page 7 of Google.com (in English) for the most searched keyword with the most competition regarding content marketing. Guess what it is? Indeed, content marketing. Try the keyword content marketing strategy. Page 7. Or: what is content marketing. Indeed: page 1. Know where we rank for Content marketing software, the second most searched keyword? Page 1.
I really intended to write about this when we hit page 3 or 4 however you’ll understand why I do it now and no, it’s not an ego trip. How will our position evolve? As you know it’s dynamic so we’ll see and keep you updated. Below is a screenshot of some keywords end of March, 1.5 months after launch. We’re transparent and will post a new one as soon as we can however you can search too.
A snapshot of the positions of some of our content marketing keywords in the US end March 2013 – 1.5 months after launch: if we can, so can you
First of all, let me answer to the objections you might have.
“So what? No one checks page 7 of Google”. Not entirely true however you have a point. Regarding the so what part: this blog exists little over 2 months and the keyword content marketing returns 1,170 billion results. Shall I give you a list of 100 marketing blogs that exist over 5 years and often write about content marketing?
“Yeah however you have a big team to do it”. The truth: I work alone with a part-time free-lancer for everything I do and occasional freelancers for other stuff. I built the blog myself and do all the work alone, as a hobby, to inform and to achieve the goals I set out. Oh, and it’s on top of my consulting work. If I can do that, why wouldn’t you if you really wanted?
“You must have a lot of content”. Forget it, at the time I’m writing this there are 44 posts, including this one, about 10 custom post type pieces and 7 published pages. That’s not really much. It’s not about quantity.
“You received lots of backlinks because you’re connected”. I might be a bit connected and, yes, I do want some juicy backlinks however all the backlinks are either created with the content I write or came spontaneously. Believe in YOUR content, question it however believe and the rest will follow.
“You’re an influencer”. Have you noticed my Twitter, Facebook or LinkedIn activity (if you’re connected) lately? I was near inactive. And by the way: I don’t consider myself an influencer at all. I’ve never been featured anywhere, don’t write for sites or magazines such as Clickz or Econsultancy or the Content Marketing Institute or whatever. I can’t change the world and can’t move people. And I don’t like the term nor the way it’s measured (that will be a nice myth dispelled).
“You’re a blogging and SEO expert”. Forget it. I only know the essentials of SEO and blogging (the good ones, at least), have no programming skills and don’t know a thing about the search engine marketing ‘secrets’. And regarding blogging: have you seen the length of my posts?
“You threw a lot of money at this”. I wish I had the money for this time-consuming hobby.
“You’re a marketing well-known marketing whatnot”. Sorry, I hardly come out of the door and live in Belgium for heaven’s sake where virtually no one knows this blog exists to start with.
“You get massive Twitter and linking love of the content marketing folks”. Really? We tweet the content of others all the time and link to them. Do you think that this is two-ways (and it’s not a must at all)? Some vendors did however try finding one backlink or tweet from a really massive influential content marketing blog. Start with the Content Marketing Institute or Copyblogger for instance. They both rank on page 1 of Google for content marketing and we mention them often. Note: this does not mean they are “bad” or that I believe that this blog deserves a mention whatsoever, really.
Content marketing myths arise when you focus on form, format, noise and channels too much
OK, enough. Ask all the questions you want and object as much as you want, I’ll answer.
You want to know the secrets? OK, brace yourself:
There are none really however I’ll give it a try. 20% is gut feeling and experience, common sense and ignoring best practices (and being a critical thinker, something most of us have unlearned it seems).
25% is knowing you stand alone, doubting and believing you can do it if you want (and then doubting again, etc).
25% is giving and sharing.
20% is testing and trying.
15% is copying what some others do (to dispel some other myths though, not as a strategy).
25% is about being consistent, customer-centric, channel-agnostic and use what you have built and the experience you have to focus on what people want.
20% is about sticking to your guns and being you. I know, it sounds fluffy however it is what it is.
Don’t make an infographic out of this: if you paid attention, you noticed the sum is over 100% however it does give an idea, doesn’t it?
What does this post have to do with the two mentioned blog posts by respectively Robert Rose and Joe Pulizzi? Here are some quotes and you should understand.
“The (content marketing) process must be infused into both our new and traditional methods”. No comment: it’s more than search and whatnot, it’s integrated.
“Most agencies are less concerned about strategy than they are about execution”. It’s not just the agencies, though.
“Most SEO agencies don’t know jack about content marketing”. You can say that for many search engine marketers and social as well as it’s ALWAYS ABOUT INTEGRATION and a customer-centric view and always has been, including the earliest digital marketing tactics. And about being social however not in the social media sense, trust me.
Oh, I agree with most of the things Robert and Joe write in the posts as well (not everything, no one can agree 100%). And I’m not a content marketing expert. I just know what customers want and how digital works and I’m wrong often too.
But if anyone tells you that getting started with a blog or focusing on high-ranked keywords nowadays is impossible as many “experts” say or that you should only focus on visual content and snackable content (have you ever noticed one slideshare presentation we made or any short post except for some tests here?), be critical and test. The proof of the pudding is in the eating. If we can do it as the end March 2013 screenshot (1.5 months after launch) shows, so can you, even in a digital world with gazillions of blog posts.
More content marketing myths: the obsessions over snacks and visuals
This way I just dispelled a few more myths: about being everywhere and visual stuff and snacks (and again it’s about form, format and channel over strategy, noticed?). I’m not saying these tactics and formats aren’t important and I’m not saying they don’t work (read more about that below). I’m saying you can succeed without them (and do them to succeed even more, we might go there too except for the snacks, that’s why we use curation channels).
Be critical and make your own case. I dare you to dare yourself. However you have to believe. And that’s where most execs go wrong: they rely on the noise instead of on smart and hardworking people (I don’t mean me) who can prove something, often those sitting very close to them.
Let me quote Robert Rose one more time: “In many businesses (especially in B2B), the marketing department is an order-taking, tactical function that runs on the hamster-wheel of demand generation, trying to keep up with client orders for new collateral, press releases, case studies and, at times, marketing-qualified leads (MQL’s)”.
The point? Some conclusions and content marketing thoughts
I want to emphasise that the myths I tried to dispel are just small pieces of the content marketing puzzle that’s strategic in the first place and there are also many shades of grey between black and white: some of the so-called myths might work for you if you use them in a smart, customer-centric and strategic way.
Final tip: work, give, share your experiences, be critical, blog and do content marketing the smart way. Make me proud of you and get me off those Google positions, even if that’s just a part of the overall digital marketing equation just as content marketing is much more than search, blogging and social (one of the reasons why Copyblogger – for me and I’m a customer, should not rank on page 1 for content marketing, even if Scribe, which we’ll review is cool).
Was this a rant? I don’t think so however you might perceive it as such. There is no self-serving call-to-action and you know where to connect with us.
Trust your guts and experienced folks over all the noise. Maybe that’s the real call-to-action. You just can’t click it. Dare yourself. I dare you.