James Murray
James Murray 5 November 2019
Categories Advertising, Content

Is Content Still King?

The phrase ‘content is king’ has been around for some time. It was originally coined in 1996 by billionaire and Microsoft founder Bill Gates when he published an essay predicting the internet would become a marketplace for content. It’s been over twenty years since then and that now-famous phrase still curries favour with a lot of digital marketers. Keep reading to find out if this well-known maxim still holds true and what that could mean for digital marketers today.

Is content dead?

When Bill Gates first uttered those immortal words, people saw the internet as a content delivery system. Consuming information was the primary reason for going online, and content creators trusted that this was how the internet would operate for the foreseeable future.

The problem arose when content creators started competing for views. How interesting or entertaining your content was became a secondary consideration. The priority was getting visitors to your page.

This changed the way people looked at the internet – content was no longer king; it was the delivery system itself that was important. Digital marketers no longer believed quality content was a good return on investment and, somewhat ironically, started making blogs and videos publicising it.

However, there was something these marketers failed to realise: content and delivery weren’t discrete pockets of the internet that could be treated separately. They were, and still are, intrinsically linked.

How are content and delivery linked?

Online content is a very different kettle of fish to the types of content you find elsewhere. For example, the content you consume when reading a book is entirely different to the type you read on a blog post.

You might think this makes no sense – they are two pieces of text after all. But the difference is how they relate to the content delivery system. With a book, the content delivery system is the binding. The words inside the book may affect how you choose to market the manuscript and the dust jacket. But other than that, the text doesn’t help you find the book; they’re static.

In contrast, online content is strongly linked to the delivery system. The keywords, the subheadings, the links, are all designed to help you find the content, locate the information you need and share it with others. Google has also made it clear that the better your content, the more detailed and authoritative your copy, the better your chances are of being found.

How to write effective content

In the past, improving the searchability of your content was simply a matter of keyword stuffing. Those in the SEO game would include as many keywords in their copy to rig the system, and this worked.

Today, however, the same strategy will have the opposite effect and result in dropping a few rungs of the digital ladder. Instead, before writing a piece of content, it’s important to consider who your content is targeting. Are your readers looking for something in particular? Is what you’re writing about easy to understand, or will you need to break it down into simpler bite-sized chunks?

Getting a good idea of these points before you get started will help you to understand what users are likely to enter into a search engine and refine your keyword research. You can then use your research to inspire subheadings, whole sections of content and narrow down the scope of your copy to create content that’s specific to your niche.

The next thing you’ll need to consider is how trustworthy your content comes across. Backing up your claims with credible sources will help Google’s algorithm to assess the credibility of your content and attribute your page with more authority. You’ll also need to fulfil these authority-related criteria:

  1. Is it long enough? Researching your content to make sure it’s accurate and well substantiated is essential. But if there aren’t enough words on your page for Google to index, it won’t credit your content with the authority it deserves.
  2. Is it original? Copying text from other websites is not only a marketing faux pas but will affect the value of your content. Google has punished duplicate content for years, so you need to make sure yours isn’t too similar to anyone else’s.
  3. Is it grammatical? Google’s algorithm is an important consideration when writing content. But don’t forget about the people who’ll be reading it, too. Make sure your content is engaging, with good spelling and correct grammar. This will help you to cement your position as an authoritative voice online.

Is content still king?

Short answer: yes.

Long answer: content is what people are looking for when they go online, and yours needs to be searchable for it to offer you any benefit, no matter if it’s an article, a blog post or a product description.

Considering who you’re trying to target before writing a piece of content will help you to shape your copy and produce writing that effectively engages your audience, increases its searchability and ups your rankings.

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