When a competitor clearly dominates — whether it’s because of their size, speed or cunning — it’s futile to try and beat them at their own game. Instead, you need to consider other ways to gain advantage. And that’s exactly what some brands should do to beat the content marketing volume game.
A Content Deluge
100 hours of video content are uploaded to YouTube every minute. Each day, 55 million photos are added to Instagram. And as you can see in the screenshot below, apparently, there are nearly 43 million ways to make chicken soup.
In other words, content is being produced at a rate never seen before — and it’s creating a content deluge. No wonder Google’s index is nearly 40 billion pages.
The accelerated growth of content is due in part to the adoption of content marketing. eMarketer reports that 86% of B2C marketers use content marketing, as do 91% of B2B marketers. No matter what channel you look at, it’s easy to see how it has become the new tool of choice for most brands today. And as shown in the below Content Marketing Institute graph, marketers are using a wide variety of content tactics, including white papers, infographics and eBooks.
The Volume Game
Today, brands are essentially becoming publishers, pushing to develop more and more content in an effort to outdo the competition. They seem to be caught up in a content marketing game — one in which volume wins. In fact, I’ve seen some brand calendars that show development of five new pieces of content a day!
As a search marketer, you might be thinking, ”Wow! With that kind volume, we should be dominating the SERPS for our target terms by the end of the year!”
However, the content marketing playing field is anything but level. Brands and marketers also have to compete with major publishers. Content giants like WebMD, TotalBeauty, and About.com produce a ton of quality content on a daily basis.
Because of that, they are dominating the SERPs and making others’ branded and unbranded content nearly invisible. And their dominance is causing brands to scramble to produce more and more content. It’s no wonder that 64% of B2B content marketers say their biggest challenge is producing enough content.
The Giants Dominate The SERPs
Let’s take a look at how the dominance of the mega publishers can impact a brand in the SERPs.
Imagine that your company is a grooming-related brand, and you want to win on the term “shaving tips.” A quick search in Google for shaving tips delivered the following top 5 results:
Now, let’s take a closer look at these results and categorize them.
|#1||AskMen.com||The largest US men’s lifestyle site; owned by Ziff Davis||Publisher|
|#2||Esquire||A publication owned by Hearst||Publisher|
|#3||About.com||An information portal owned by IAC||Publisher|
|#4||Gilette.com||A men’s care brand owned by P&G||Brand site|
|#5||Men-ü||A small brand focused on men’s care||Brand site|
What does this table tell us about the content landscape on Google? The top organic rankings are dominated by the mega publishers. And while this sample size is small, it is far from an anomaly. I also looked at 10 additional, similar terms, and they all seemed to tell the same story: the publishing giants are winning the content game.
Beating The Volume Game
If your content is being “muscled out” of the SERPs by big publishers, you’ll never beat them at the volume game. They have dedicated staffs that churn out a tremendous amount of content on a daily basis! However, you have options. Below are three tips that can help you win.
1. Leverage Social Media To Amplify Your Efforts
If you can’t beat the competition on volume, you can use social media to make the most out of your limited content inventory. It can help you “amplify” your efforts and expand your reach considerably. That’s probably why 87% of B2B marketers use social media to distribute content.
But in order to tap into social media for this purpose, you need to have quality content that is engaging, rich and inherently viral. Ideally, it should be something that your audience will share, reuse and bookmark.
You’ll also need to identify relevant influencers for the content, and get them to socially engage with it and share it with their networks.
In addition, make sure that you configure your analytics platform to measure your social media engagement on the detail level. Google Analytics recently added a lot more depth into their social media tracking functionality. Once you start tracking what goes viral and what doesn’t, you can start to optimize your content plan against the behavior of your audience.
2. Capitalize On Mega Publishers’ Reach & Power
Top publishers are big content machines with impressive reach. But because they are dependent upon advertising dollars, you can tap into their vast power with targeted display ads.
As you can see from the table in our example above, content giants tend to dominate the top three organic listings. Considering that, placing display ads on these properties could provide your brand with a lot of exposure.
For instance, let’s say you wanted to leverage display on some of the mega publisher sites to target “shaving tips” terms. The first step is to narrow the field — find out which sites have top organic rankings for your terms. These are the sites you should focus your display efforts on. That way, when a searcher performs a relevant query, they would probably be exposed to your brand no matter which of the top three organic listings they clicked on.
As you can see on the screenshot below, there is plenty of highly visible ad space available on mega publishers. Sometimes it is just smarter, faster and more economical to invest in display advertising than it is to spend thousands of dollars on content development for a chance to maybe beat the content giants.
However, make sure that you “inspect what you expect.” By that, I mean keep a close eye onto the performance of the traffic you are driving through your display efforts. I recommend grouping performance by referring URLs. Doing so will help you quickly see which sources are paying off, enabling you to focus your investment on the top performers and drop the ones that are lagging.
Pro Tip: Look at your analytics and see what sites are driving great traffic to you already, then see if these sites have a display opportunity and try to drive more reach through it.
3. Develop Content For The Long Tail
Today we continue to see two trends in search user behavior. First, more and more people select the auto-suggest prompts in their query box, which are inherently long.
Second, search queries in general are getting longer and better defined. Clearly, the long tail is still very much alive. Consequently, developing content for it can be an effective strategy for some brands.
Content designed to speak to such specific terms works because there is usually less competition for them. Given that, it can increase your chance to capture the attention of these searchers.
It is also effective because it can deliver a high conversion rate. The intent in long tail queries is generally very clear — for example, there is little to wonder about the intent behind the query, “how to remove grass stains from jeans.”
Remember, there’s no greater source for long-tail information than your own analytics data. Look at how much traffic you’re getting from long-tail terms and whether or not that traffic is converting. Then you can check with Google on the size of the opportunity.
There are 40 billion indexed pages on Google today — clearly, content isn’t going away any time soon. But getting caught up in the content marketing volume game doesn’t make sense unless you’re a mega publisher with a huge staff. Follow the above tips to get the most value out of your content marketing efforts.
Are you competing on volume? Are the mega publishers pushing your content off the SERPs? What’s your strategy to win the content game?
Opinions expressed in the article are those of the guest author and not necessarily Marketing Land.