We’re only a month into 2014, and already there have been some hot debates about the future of online content. Most significantly, two posts about content rocked and, if the responses are any indication, angered the online writing community.
First, we read Mark W. Schaeffer’s Content Shock: Why content marketing is not a sustainable strategy on his excellent blog at Schaefer Marketing Solutions. The post received nearly 400 comments and over 70 responses on other blogs. If you didn’t read the post, my summary of Mark’s point is this: there’s too much content out there and it’s impossible to get noticed anymore so content isn’t a sustainable marketing strategy.
Next, we heard from Matt Cutts on a seemingly unrelated topic, The decay and fall of guest blogging for SEO on the important blog, Matt Cutts: Gadgets, Google, and SEO. (If you’re not aware of who Matt Cutts is, he’s the head of Google’s Webspam team.) Like the other post, Matt’s post generated a firestorm of comments and responses–over 400 comments and multiple responses. If you didn’t read the post, my summary of Matt’s point is this: Google may soon begin cracking down on spammy guest posts that focus mainly on link-building.
In this post, I’ll examine these two seemingly separate content problems and explain how they’re related. Finally, I’ll propose one common solution for both problems.
These two posts struck a nerve because content marketing, and guest posting as a subset of that, were a large part of many marketing strategies in 2013.
Let’s take a closer look.
A Closer Look at Content Shock
I’ve read the Content Shock post several times. As I stated in my take on the post earlier, the post seems to be about the sheer quantity of content available.
The problem of having more content available than people can realistically digest isn’t a new one. I’ve been writing about the same problem for years, under a different name–information overload.
You can read one of my posts about information overload on DesignM.ag, 5 Effective Ways for Freelance Web Designers to Manage Information Overload.
The thing about information overload is that it’s not a new concept. We’ve had too much information available to us for a long time now (even before the rise of the Internet). The question is really this, how will the audience filter the information available to them and how can a company get their information through that filter?
Getting through the filter is why it’s not enough to simply post and run. Content promotion counts.
I’ll explain more about how to overcome information overload/content shock in my solution below.
A Closer Look at Guest Posting
First of all, the term “guest posting” is somewhat nebulous. I’ve heard it used to describe anything from site owners who hire a blogger to write for their site to questionable pieces that read like nothing more than disguised sales pitches and everything in between.
The guest posting specialists at MyBlogGuest offer this one sentence definition, “A guest post is a piece of content the author and the blogger arrange to publish on the blogger’s site for free.” For the purposes of this post, let’s go with the MyBlogGuest definition and not worry about sites that pay writers for posts. (I don’t think Matt was talking about freelance authors who are paid for their work anyway.)
When I read Matt’s post, I had to chuckle. That’s because he includes a guest post pitch that is probably familiar to anyone who owns a website. It looks very much like some of the emails that I receive. The pitch is so generic that it seems like the author has never even read the blog they are pitching. Maybe they didn’t.
Yuk! No wonder Matt is fed up.
Guest posting for the sole purpose of getting links is an abuse that’s bound to result in poor quality posts. In the end, linking a bunch of poor quality posts to your business website isn’t going to do your business any good. Even if you manage to increase your search engine traffic, the readers who come for the low quality posts aren’t likely to be interested in your product or services.
The Simple Solution
I admit, my perspective on these posts is somewhat oversimplified–but for a good reason. I’m looking at the big picture.
You see, the problem of getting attention to your content and the problem of publishing low quality guest posts are related.
They can both be solved by paying attention to quality when you write and publish posts and by making quality a priority. It’s old-fashioned, I know, but it also works. If you’re doing anything else when you blog, you’re probably wasting your time.
In case you’ve forgotten, I took a look at what comprises quality content a few months ago. Here are the seven points I came up with, What Is Quality Web Content? 7 Characteristics that Indicate Quality.
Has content shock and the prospect of a guest post crackdown got you worried?
What are your solutions to those potential content problems?