SEO strategy

Let’s not risk a return to SEO’s dark ages

By October 15, 2015 No Comments

A recent podcast by US social media influencer Pam Moore got me thinking. Pam explains the dangers of lazy content marketing – creating and sharing cursory articles with little value, regurgitating these sorts of articles just for the sake of having more content on your site, and not serving the needs of your audience. She goes on to explain how such practise can hurt your brand’s reputation. At the very least, she says, make sure you input your own perspective into every piece of content you create or share, and stay true to your brand.

So this is a plea to content creators of excellence. To the heavyweights of content marketing: I need you. We, the industry, need you.

An over-sharing of mediocre or regurgitated content simply to increase one’s reach

Noise gets louder

Allow me to explain. Obviously with the increased prevalence of content marketing, there’s a lot more content out there. For years the search engines have weeded out poorer quality content by advising on good practise for SEO, but as the internet noise gets louder, securing your social shares and increasing the organic reach of your brand becomes increasingly hard. The challenge for marketers to create and curate excellent content is an increasingly tall order, and the temptation to lazily regurgitate others’ content to score SEO brownie points can be high.

Cursory, rehashed pieces are then pushed to the front

A host of tools have emerged over the last few years that optimise social sharing, making it easier for brands and agencies to locate and promote the really good content fast, and in return get their own stuff seen by more of the people that matter.

I would single out Viral Content Buzz as a recommendation, but there’s also Growth Hackers, Kingged, KLinkK, to name a couple more.

They all work a little differently but the basic idea behind most of these social growth tools is a “you-scratch-my-back-I’ll-scratch-yours” kind of premise. You’re credited for sharing content with your audience and in return other people are credited for sharing yours, giving everybody’s articles bigger thighs and a longer running track. We’re all happy and everyone’s reach increases incrementally. Everything is awesome.

I genuinely think it’s an effective model. But it only works when the content available is something worth sharing. Otherwise it kind of defeats the point.

The catch

The inherent catch with these systems is that they can result in over-sharing of mediocre or regurgitated content simply in order to increase one’s own reach. It’s content that’s ostensibly of benefit – a hammy “how-to” that’s been done to death elsewhere on the web, for example – but in reality offers scant value to anyone beyond their author in the form of a few vanity metrics i.e. a few more views and shares that might boost their SEO.

Authors with this mindset are more likely to dedicate their time and effort to over-sharing than those who create and curate high quality content. These cursory, rehashed pieces are then pushed to the front, drowning out the rarer, unique and more original material, which additionally can prove too time consuming to bother seeking out.

In other words, this risks harking back to the old ‘black hat’ days of SEO. This was when marketers and webmasters, struggling to get on page one of the search results for their chosen keywords, would flood their copy with those keywords, with no context or simply no valuable text full stop. They’d then place hundreds of links back to that copy within a minefield of horrible ‘link-dump’ websites (you may recall those sites with lists of links pointing across locations in the internet bad lands such as online gambling sites, or worse). Stopping this practise and promoting quality is why SEO exists, but the search engine algorithms don’t moderate these individual tools; content curators – people – do.

Give great content new life

I implore both the impassioned moderators of social sharing optimisation tools and the content creators that use them to continue to raise the bar. Let’s set our standards even higher.

And I implore more content creators everywhere to get involved with these sorts of tools, which, if we use them right, can be a hotbed of high value articles, video and imagery. All of these spaces could be elite mini-internets unto themselves that set only the highest standards of thought leadership. There are loads of these types of tools about and you’ll have to find the right one to suit you, your content and your target audience.

Inject fresh content

My experience of Viral Content Buzz has been excellent; it employs a vote exchange model and it works. What I’ve noticed though, is I tend to end up reading content from the same creators, which suggests the tool needs a fresh injection of variety. Let’s make that happen. I’d like to see original copy from trusted heavyweights feature prominently in all of these social sharing microcosms, and only the highest quality content finding a home on these pages.

Giving great content new life is what excellent content marketing is all about. It’s what builds brands and makes them outstanding. Let’s not get lazy about sharing it around.

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