Content is King - or is it?

Content is King (or Queen)…or is it?

{Guest post by Grant Hendricks, SEO Expert, and Content Writer at Twirling Umbrellas}

If you follow any SEO bloggers (nerd alert!) or do any blogging of your own (which you should!), you’ve probably heard the phrase ‘content is king’.

It’s perhaps the most used catchphrase in the world of search engine optimization, arguably for very good reason.

It means that above all else, one should write great content – and the links, traffic, and search rankings will follow. But, as with pretty much everything, there’s more to this story.

What makes content great, anyway? Let’s explore this idea a little further.

Great Content Isn’t Always Great

Hey, remember Gangnam Style? In case you somehow missed it, here it is:

That’s probably the most popular internet content of all time. It currently sits at over 2.8 billion views.

Take the population of the United States and multiply it by 8. That’s nearly as many views as Gangnam Style has. Heck, take China’s population and double it – you still don’t get to 2.8 billion.

Now, maybe I’m the minority opinion here, but Gangnam Style, catchy as it is, isn’t the best song in the world. So why is it so popular? It’s a mixture of good luck and novelty.

Gangnam Style is the best example of viral content I can think of. Viral content doesn’t need to be good, per se. It just needs to be extremely novel, something with broad appeal that everyone can laugh at, or roll their eyes at, or otherwise fixate on. If there were a formula for determining viral success, everything would be viral.

As that is not the case, it’s clear that luck or some intangible, impossible-to-replicate property is responsible for viral content going, well, viral.

The point is – you can’t really plan for viral success.

It’s like bad movies versus so-bad-they’re-good movies. The line between bad content and viral content is often razor-thin.

Celebrity Matters

Remember when Paris Hilton had a TV show? Going back to watch it is like discovering a strange artifact from the early 2000’s. The slang, the fashion, even the very concept of the show is laughable now. Frankly, it was laughable then.

How does something so clearly awful receive such major attention? It’s a case of celebrity influence.

Kim Kardashian is a modern equivalent – she’s famous for being famous, and even though her show is objectively bad (don’t bother trying to convince me otherwise!) it’s already run for 13 successful seasons and inspired numerous spinoffs. Once Kardashian reached a level of fame and notoriety, everything she did was gifted this unwarranted importance.

It’s not so different online. Content creators have long known that fame can elevate them from mediocrity to relevance faster than producing truly great content.

Well-known SEO blogger Neil Patel hijacked the fame of Instagram models in order to build his personal brand and has experienced massive online success, despite the fact that visiting his website makes me want to take a long shower and clear my browser history.

Content Is Dead! Long Live Content!

So there’s clearly more than one way to gain SEO traction, and it’s not always reliant on creating the most useful, relevant, or even high-quality content.

Does that mean that content isn’t king (queen)? Maybe it’s more of a crown prince, or a duchess or something. Ok, not exactly.

But, as I said, you can’t plan for viral success, and you certainly can’t guarantee yourself celebrity status.

You can, however, create content. Anyone can, and everyone should. More content is always better than less content unless quantity comes at the cost of quality.

Even viral or celebrity-fueled content is still, well… content. The whole internet is nothing but links to more and more content.

Maybe you strike gold with the next viral success, or hitch your wagon to a big name and let them drag you into the spotlight.

But, no matter what you do, don’t stop creating! That’s the only sure-fire way to fail at SEO.

So ultimately, content is and always will be King. I mean Queen!

It is the foundation upon which everyone must build online success, and the safest bet is to just write really good, useful stuff.

Anything else is a bit of a moon-shot: you may win big, but you probably won’t. If you’re a gambler, maybe viral content is the way you want to go. For me, I’ll take the safe bet every time.

To pave the road to success online... just write REALLY good stuff! Click To Tweet

Here’s a 3-point checklist to ensure that you’re on track with your content:

1 | On-site content – This includes anything that displays on any page, like blog posts (possibly the number one SEO resource available to you), product descriptions, about pages, etc.

Make sure your content is targeted, well-written, and easy to read. Try to write for your audience.

For example, lawyers won’t necessarily enjoy the same style of writing that bartenders will, so make sure you aren’t writing in the wrong ‘voice’.

Try to target keywords or topics with all your on-site content.

2 | Social Media – Social media is the place where viral marketing might be more feasible. It’s for snack-sized content, not the in-depth, highly useful content you want on your site.

Social media is less about informing and more about simply engaging. Be active on social media, reach out to your followers, and aim to entertain.

Here’s where you should have some fun!

3 | Newsletters, Mailing Lists, and Direct Engagement – Getting someone to sign up for a newsletter, receive notifications on their phone, or otherwise directly engage with you is a big win right from the start.

These potential customers are further down the sales funnel – that is to say, they’re closer to buying from you than the average website viewer. This is the time to sell a little more aggressively.

Remember to demonstrate value, though. You want your future customers to enjoy or get some benefit from your emails and notifications.

Try curating some great blog posts from yourself and others, and include those in a newsletter, or offer exclusive promotions or bonuses to your customers.

Your goal here is conversions – turn those leads into sales!