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Content Is No Longer King…Long Live the Keyword!

Content The Keyword is King

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.

2 Comments on Content Is No Longer King…Long Live the Keyword!

  1. Chris Knotts
    November 29, 2011 at 8:54 pm (5 years ago)

    Great blog post, and it couldn’t be more timely. During the Internet Summit 2011, Gary Vaynerchuk stated that content was still king, but soon context would be. Like JT does here, I’d take it a step further and say we’re already there. Content is now a given. Context and keyword are two sides of the same coin…context is what makes content matter, and the keyword is the user’s tool for defining it. My question would be…as context and keyword get more attention going forward, and conventions around them get more defined, what will be the next king? IMO it will be creativity, and it’ll take a high standard indeed to create anything that’s really new under the sun.

    Thanks for this great article, JT.

  2. JT Moore
    November 29, 2011 at 9:28 pm (5 years ago)

    Interesting thought, Chris. I think if you apply creativity in the sense of how you promote the content than you are right on target. The keyword will be what gets the content in front of people through things like search, but creativity will be what gets them to take action.

    However, I think this is a classic marketing function that has always been here and is still pertinent today. Sexy titles, intriguing and mysterious headlines always win. Creative marketing takes you to the next level.

    But it is still the keyword that helps your content get found in today’s noisy online environment.


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