Content Marketing. It's the new buzz word flowing around the Internet marketing community for the last year or so. I've been doing this online marketing “thing” for over a decade. When I first heard the phrase “content marketing” I was a little confused. What is that? I read the posts explaining it, but it left me even more confused. Why?
Because content marketing isn't a new strategy, it's merely a new word.
Why the fuck do we as an industry feel the need to invent a new buzz word for the same services every few years? We've been doing “content marketing” forever.
- Website = content
- Promotion of that website = marketing
Website + promotion of said website = content marketing.
External content marketing online is – and always has been – part of a good link building strategy. On-site content marketing is part of a good conversion strategy and a good link building strategy.
But “link building” as a term has become dirty. So, we feel the need to “rebrand” it every few years with new terms.
Reciprocal linking morphed into “strategic partnerships” and “joint venture initiatives.” Article marketing became “guest posting” and one-way linking became “content placement.” Forum and blog links became “niche networking.” Writing something controversial or killer to get noticed became “linkbait.” But then linkbait also got a negative connotation, and now it's considered a part of? Yep – “content marketing.”
According to Wikipedia content marketing is “any marketing format that involves the creation and sharing of media and publishing content in order to acquire customers.”
In short, content marketing is to link building what an escort is to a hooker. Link building services and hookers – it's very clear what happens with both. But content marketing and escorts? They're much classier (wink, wink – nudge, nudge).
Yes, yes, I know. What makes content marketing different is that it doesn't necessarily have to acquire a link to be considered content marketing and drive customers. I.e. if you publish a killer piece of content on Mashable, without a link – but a highly themed brand mention that causes consumers to seek you out, then you're doing “content marketing.” There was already a word for that in the SEO world. It's an unlinked “co-occurrence.” Unlinked mention of your URL? We had a word for that too – a “citation.” On-site content marketing can help convert customers. We've long referred to that as conversion optimization.
In 2002, I was ranking for the single word “phentermine” – and I was doing it without comment spam. How? Back then we had a ton of “free sites” on the web. They told you where you could find free wallpapers, free graphics, free logo generators, free games, free chat software, etc. Almost every one of those sites had a category called “Misc Freebies.” I created a five-page printable weight loss journal and listed it in every “free site” I could find. In several, it became a “popular listing.” A few months later, I was number 3 for the word phentermine. Crude content marketing. It's always been there, folks. We just didn't give it a shiny new word.
Let's just be honest here for a minute. 94% of the website owners rushing to grab a seat on the content marketing bandwagon are doing so with one primary objective – to get links. The methods may have evolved, but the core concepts are the same.
Because as long as links are the number one factor in search engine rankings and as long as search engines are the number one way to drive a website traffic online – that's the end game. No matter what we decide to call it.
Hooker, Escort – your objective is still to get laid by Google.