Thursday, 2 March 2017

Content is dead! Long live content!

This article was originally published on Iris Briefings but I feel strongly about the message it sends. When we create content, who are we trying to reach? Search engines or people?

A recent article on content marketing got me thinking. As a qualified information professional it has always been my responsibility to get the right information to the right person and at the right price. My colleagues knew that if I sent them an article or document, they could rely on the quality of the content. Increasingly though, people researching online are being deluged with rehashed, badly written ‘junk articles’. I’m unsure whether this is the fault of a decreasing amount of discerning readership, or a rise of a new king: the search engine.

The King is Dead; Long Live the King!

The author pointed out, that even if content is not quite dead, ‘content is no longer king’. I am fully alive to the irony of writing a blog post about an article I’ve read online. But as he says, good conventional articles will always generate conversational interest without recourse to ‘broadcast advertising’. He highlights the current SEO obsession with linking and building connections. He concludes by saying that start-up businesses brave enough to blog about their ‘rough, intimate and personal’ lifecycle will reach more people.

I have been saying this for a long time. When people are writing about what they have learned through experience, their honesty and authenticity creates exceptional content. As I’ve been learning about advertising and web design, whilst refreshing networking and research skills, I’ve been left wondering what challenge will emerge next. This article has suggested it will be the fight to convince people to commission excellent content even as they are chasing SEO.

Alternative facts v alternative words

This directly affects people like me who care about creating quality content. For many years I have watched once excellent ‘broadsheet’ news outlets create click bait. They increasingly mine Twitter for faux-outrage, whilst masking legitimate issues with easy to digest polarising sound bites. The more people who link back to this trash drives advertising revenue and gives credence to these sites. And even Wikipedia is now questioning certain newspaper sources. A revolution in journalism is due.

As the media and politicians clash over alternative facts, I’m more concerned about the rise of alternative words. When sites consisting of computer generated copy exist purely to impress algorithms, there is something really rotten happening to content. This material isn’t fit to be read, people don’t want to read it, and it ultimately degrades our collective intelligence. Taking these factors into consideration, it is no wonder that when a good article gets published, it goes viral.

Let’s have a quality conversation

Ultimately the message to companies and individuals is quality. When I write for a company blog I want to get to the heart of what the company holds dear. For instance, if they are targeting a particular group of people, then blog posts should reflect and respect that business development strategy. If they are conveying a deep knowledge of a particular industry, then my research has to reflect this. Conversations online begin with an interest in your fellow human, so let’s do ourselves justice and make it rewarding. Together we can depose the search engine king of our own creating.

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