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The Growing Importance of Content Marketing

If you’re in the digital marketing space, you’ve probably heard an awful lot about content marketing. With each Google update, more and more black hat SEO techniques are falling by the wayside, and even legitimate techniques are losing their effectiveness.

Content marketing is only getting more important for SEO, and as it gains in popularity it is becoming more frequently abused. These days, everyone is a content creator, from your neighbor’s fourteen year old daughter who tweets every five minutes to your plumber who writes weekly tutorials on his plumbing blog.

Here’s a look back at how we got here, and a look forward at where we’re headed:

Brief History of Google Updates

According to Matt Cutts, Google’s head of webspam, Google implements over 500 algorithm changes per year—that’s an average of one to two per day. Many of these changes are small and unannounced, but some are much more substantial.

In the spring of 2011, Google created a big stir with their Panda Update. This major algorithm change targeted what they considered “low-quality sites”—websites that existed solely to affect the way results appeared in the search engine, or spammy, human-unfriendly sites like link farms. The changes reflected a dismissal of sites that provide a poor user experience, favoring those with lower bounce rates and user-friendly design. Initially, many webmasters were outraged, demanding to know what qualified as a “high-quality site,” and Google responded with a list.

About a year later, they came out with a second earth-shattering update: Google Penguin. This update was more aggressive in targeting specific black hat techniques like keyword stuffing, duplicate content, and cloaking. The changes affected the ranking of approximately 3.1% of search queries in English and similar percentages for other languages.

With effects like these, it is easy to feel frustrated at Google, especially when your business depends on search engine traffic. But it is important to remember that Google’s ultimate goal is to serve up the results that best suit the users. If your golf clubs or deer repeller or tennis shoes are not presented in a user-friendly way, or if you’ve used unfair tactics to get ahead, they will be pushed down to let higher-quality sites shine.

The Rise of Content Marketing

All of the Google updates have led to one conclusion by SEOs: content is king.

Starting in 2011, the search query “content marketing” began its upward trek, and is now more common than ever. But there is a downside. With the rise in popularity of content marketing there comes, as some have put it, a deluge of crap. To get ahead, some shady marketers steal content and spin articles, or write terrible posts never meant for human consumption. Even high-quality content can be part of the problem if it’s simply repeating content that’s already been posted over and over.

But herein lies the problem – even if you aren’t trying to game the system, your future depends on content marketing. If you rely at all on search engine traffic (and most businesses do) you need searchable content that Google, Bing and others can use to send traffic your way. More than ever before, today every business needs to be well-versed in content production.

Looking to the Future

Google entered the social front with Google+, and many argue, did not succeed. However, despite the barren plains of Google+, as content marketers we need to be paying attention. Google has already quietly rolled out changes like Google Authorship and +1 bubbles, and they are here to stay. If you search Google with personalization on, as is the default, the results are now unique to each searcher, no longer the consistent, one-size-fits-all results that they used to be. Now, they’re affected by all kinds of factors like what you tend to search for, your location, and what your friends share on Google+.

The quality of who authors your content will soon be a factor as well. Google Authorship is an opt-in program to link your content with its creator, through their Google+ profile. When properly set up, search results that include your posts will display your Google+ profile image beside them. This new feature is the “light version” of an upcoming Google update, now unofficially called the Author Rank Update, which will drastically change the way we see results. Author Rank subjects content creators to a scoring system that rates them based on factors such as the quality of the sites where they write and social engagement, lending a human factor to the search results.

These changes are already in motion, and now is the time to make them a part of your content marketing strategy. Dust off your Google+ page and implement Google Authorship on all your content pages. By keeping on top of new developments in search, and above all, creating helpful, meaningful and interesting content, your website will ride the waves of every Google update to come.

 

About the Author

Adrienne Erin is a blogger and Internet marketer at WebpageFX, an SEO company. When she’s not blogging about tech and social media, you might find her practicing her French, whipping up some recipes she found on Pinterest, or obsessing over vintage postcards and stamps.

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