Since February 2010, and the Google Panda algorithm update, we’ve been hearing a lot about content marketing. Yet, we’ve been hearing the ‘content is king’ credo for a lot longer than that.
Looking back, content marketing has evolved a lot, from a SEO fuel to something much greater as it is perceived today. Knowing where we came from and where we are now, I’d like to take a leap and try my luck to guess what the future of content marketing will be like. In a sentence, I think content marketing will get (1) more detailed, (2) more visual and (3) more multimedia, produced with (4) a smarter marketing goal in mind.
1. More content.
Google now pays attention to the length of content produced. Hints have been dropped here and there in 2013, but the real deal was released last summer. Among other things, the idea of those In-Depth articles feature is to provide high-quality content to help you learn about or explore a subject (source). I think that is a pretty strong signal, and this is here to stay.
So what does that mean for us Content Marketers? Hold your horses, I am NOT saying “more is better”. I’d go for longers posts, and more detailed content in general.
a. Longer blogposts
The great Neil Patel said it first: content length affects rankings and conversions. This is good news, as it gives credit to research and details in the global content landscape. Length is usually a dead giveaway to spot SEO motivated content (usually 300 word long “only” or so).
And yet, length shouldn’t be an excuse to ramble. Get to the point, so your ‘longer’ content doesn’t get boring along the way. After all, you are writing long posts to deliver value to readers, not writing for Google bots.
eBook are great for so many reasons. They deliver a ton of actionable content in one place, easy to access. They are a fantastic lead generation tool. They are shared (both to colleagues + social media).
No wonder Content Marketing geniuses like Hubspot and Kissmetrics produce a b*ttloads of ebooks yearly. Not only they educate generations of marketers to be, but it’s a fantastic credibility tool too.
Still, regardless of how detailed you get, it’s not only about content length. That’s brings us to my second point.
2. More visual
Great content is pretty to look at, as well as educative. It’s a key trend that we had coming for a long long time. You might have noticed some of the following events (or more) :
- Content Management Systems getting real sexy (Job well done, Medium & Ghost)
- Beautifully designed WordPress themes have become quite a huge market,
- Infographics are slowly taking over the internet (lolcats haven’t noticed yet) with the help of great websites such as Visua.ly etc.
- Nearly all blogposts out there have images to go along
- and many many more clues.
The truth is: you will no longer get away with not posting images with your blogposts. Might be a waste of time to you, but that’ll light up your pretty piece of content of yours.
But that is not all: people love infographics. So you go ahead and feed them just that. Again, kissmetrics has done a fantastic job with infographics, and generated tons of traffic, social shares and engagement through them.
Still, as you’ve probably noticed, infographics are all over the place. Sadly, as any other sort of popular content, many marketers try to publish infographics on a regular basis. The problem being? Not all of them do a decent job. As a result, I suspect infographics will decrease in popularity over time. So it’s time to look out for over cool *ss content types.
You know which other content type is great and visual? Presentations. You might have heard of websites like Slideshare, ScribD, SpeakerDeck, etc. They do a great job for sharing your presentation to the world (and drive a little traffic in the process).
3. More multimedia
Great content is of all forms, not only written.
You might want to look into :
– Audio, by creating kickass Podcasts,
– Videos, from industry tips to customer support, there are plenty of things you might want to shoot videos on.
4. A brand new perspective
All those ‘operational’ changes aside, I believe the greatest change concerns the motivation of doing content marketing.
Most marketers started to do content marketing for SEO purposes. From a tech standpoint, it made a lot of sense: more content to be crawled, more keywords to rank for, more pages indexed, etc. Yet, this imply producing content for robots, not for people, and this is fundamentally wrong, and Google will make sure everybody understands this in the future (whatch out for the next algorithm update, everyone!)
If not SEO, what’s Content Marketing for then? Well, it should be seen as an inbound marketing channel only.
Produce your content for people, not for robots. What do people want in the digital marketing world? They want to educate themselves, or stay on top of their game, they want actionable tips, within detailed pieces of content. With that in mind, you’ll be able to start producing content the smart way
What will happen?
- As a brand/product/service you will build much needed street cred industry credibility that will help you get prospective customers to notice your business,
- A steady influx of high quality content will help you stay top of mind,
- Then, considering each prospective customer currently is at a very different stage of its purchasing cycle, make sure you will be there whenever the time is right
- … and even improve your SEO in the process (see what I did there?)
Long story short, I believe marketers need to approach content marketing with an ‘Inbound’ perspective, and take out the SEO out of it. Content marketing is much greater than ‘simply’ starting a blog. Content is for people, not for robots, and as such it needs to be (1) detailed, (2) offering actionable tips, (3) visually interesting and (4) on many different media.