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One of the most frequent mistakes people make in their approach to content strategy, is concentrating solely on the audience they have built their product around. For example, I see retailers blogging soley about new product lines, I see hyper local startups blogging solely about local events, I see car manufacturers telling their customers solely about new models.
On the face of it, there’s nothing wrong with this approach. All of the above mentioned examples seem logical, and many of you are probably asking where I have an issue. All of these are perfectly valid topics, for their corresponding niche, and new content equals new visitors. Right?
The problem is that on their own – this isn’t enough. This type of content I have given the acronym ‘ROMA’ , or ‘Read-Once-Move-Along’ content. It caters to an existing readership, it gives them something to read, but isn’t exciting or interesting enough to make them care about it. In the majority of cases, it doesn’t capture the attention of anyone outside the existing audience of the site in question. There’s nothing remarkable about it.
In the majority of cases, when a business decides to put the time and energy into creating a blog for their site, particularly for SEO benefits, it isn’t about just ‘creating fresh content for Google’. Either you want someone to share it, (which may improve the chances of the content going viral and gaining links in the long grass) or you want someone to link to it (which benefits the website as a whole from an organic search engine perspective).
The lack of understanding in this is 9 times out of 10 why business bloggers fail. They haven’t seen the benefits for themselves, because the content they are creating isn’t competing on an international stage. They continue to produce ROMA content without gaining new subscribers, without increasing the volume of links to their site and without the rest of the web noticing. Believe me when I use the word international, I mean it. The minute you take your content online, you are competing for links from around the world, with millions of other blogs, and millions of other content creators so mediocrity just doesn’t cut the mustard.
One of the conversations I found fascinating recently, was a comment on Louis Gray’s stream, posted by Veteran blogger Chris Brogan, (defending his decision to publish a new business book about Google+)
“Most all of my writing is pretty thin gruel. I’m not trying to teach you to be a superhero. I’m pointing out basic human marketing or business tactics and ideas that most people don’t do well. The most top-selling books of all time are advice books that basically tell you things you already know and sell hundreds of thousands of new copies every year.”
You should read the rest of the conversation for context, but Chris gets it. Be first to market, and you win. Write in an accessible way, and again. You win. Add that to the fact that his topical area of choice is something which has mass appeal.
The same is true online – at least some of your content needs to have mass market appeal to work and gain the traction (and links) that you need. For some people, that means dumbing down, for others, it means branching their content away from a core focus into popular culture.
This diagram below shows, a relatively small market segment on the web which are interested in your site, along with an even smaller number inside that who are likely to provide you with links.
If you decide to write solely for a market segment, you’d better hope those people are strong providers of links. If the below is what your market looks like, you are in trouble. Think about the content you create, the prospective audience for it, and if there is a linking ecosystem to support your site. If not, you are going to have to think global with your content strategy and approach.
This graph shows (estimated for illustration purposes) how much of the web as a whole are likely to link to you. This is where you need to be pitching, at least some of your content.
That means thinking and networking with others globally, producing content that appeals to people outside your core audience, and recognising the online trends and content that inspires and motivates those people to link, rather than just creating content for an existing audience.