Back in 1996, Bill Gates wrote an essay about his vision for the future of the internet. His position was that content was going to be where real money was made on the internet. I won’t go into the details of his essay, but at the time it was a groundbreaking stance.
It took quite some time, but marketers came to adopt the credo, “Content is King.” We (marketers, I include myself) realized that to be successful on the internet you must have high-quality, free content that draws people. This content must be easily accessed, downloaded, shared…and it must position you as a credible source or a thought leader. This content is the icebreaker that builds rapport and trust with your customer, and then opens the opportunity for a relationship or a purchase. Consistently providing this high-quality free content has been our challenge, and the reason some companies fail and others succeed.
But 15 years later, I think it is time for us to re-envision our approach to marketing on the internet. Content used to be king. It is extremely valuable, and is the cornerstone of that customer relationship, but with the droves of people now constantly connected to the internet on their computers, phones, iPads, whatever…the amount of noise on the internet is now deafening.
In Two Days We Create as Much Information as We Did From the Dawn of Man Up Until 2003
In August 2010, Google CEO Eric Schmidt stated that every two days we create as much information as we did from the dawn of civilization up until 2003. Imagine that for a second. From a marketing perspective, your campaign, your blog post, your tweet competes with the same amount of information as was produced from the dawn of man through 2003 in just 2 days. Talk about a competitive landscape. You really have to have some groundbreaking or incredible info to really make a mark.
But that is looking at things in aggregate. Today’s internet usage sees several hundred million Google searches performed each day, and 770 billion Facebook page views each day, so it’s imperative that we target our audience and target specific messages to these people.
The Keyword is the New King!
With people producing around five exabytes of data every two days, we can no longer put out a great piece of content and expect to see a flood of traffic to our site that leads to sales/leads/revenue. We can not simply click the publish button and expect for it to be seen. There is just too much content produced and too much noise to compete with. We have to make sure we are found.
It is the keyword that helps us fight through this avalanche of content. Everything we do as marketers should ultimately start at the keyword level. Whether you are writing copy, producing a video, sending a tweet, optimizing your website for search, or targeting a pay-per-click campaign, the keyword is the foundation.
Everything Begins With a Search & Every Search Starts With Desire
Almost every action on the internet begins with a search. You start off with a search engine query, filter the results (both organic and paid), and then take action from there. That initial search results from some desire. You need directions to the closest sushi place or maybe you want to know Abraham Lincoln’s birthday. But no matter how superficial or meaningful your desire, that search query is made up of keywords. They have become the fundamental element of all of our marketing channels. When we think of our customer’s pain-point, we are in fact looking at keywords. We think about what they would search or what words would will get their attention in a headline or 140 character message.
When you boil everything down, it all comes back to the keyword. Even the best content runs the risk of not being seen. It is the keyword that will become king with content in a supporting role. Good content will keep people on the page, and hopefully coming back for more, but in the end it was the keyword that got them to that page and to your site. If you can’t be found, then your work (your content) will go unnoticed.