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Why content needs more respect


Wow. I thought I knew the importance of content, but the BrightonSEO conference wrestled me to the ground, put me in a headlock and smeared content’s value into my face for a whole day… and I liked it.

The question is: how do we smear it onto our clients’ faces?

Every marketer has known content is king for an eternity now, but are they treating it like a king or only giving it enough budget for a plastic crown and a machine-washable velour cloak? Looking back through my coffee-stained notes from the conference, I tried to salvage an argument to present to clients, a case to give content the respect it deserves.

Redressing the balance

First off, I’d like to nod to Caliber’s head of strategy, a chap called Simon Bennison. Simon broached the holy grail of putting a price on content, drawing on some stats from Econsultancy’s Marketing Budgets report: 63% of marketing investment goes into offline versus 37% into digital marketing. And of this, just 4% goes towards content marketing with 5% to paid search. He then highlighted research by SimilarWeb, which found 39% of all traffic comes from search, and of this, only 2% via paid search.

“The scales of marketing justice are firmly against content marketing,” Simon concluded. “Paid media is expensive but results are guaranteed. We need to make content easier to invest in.” I found myself nodding in agreement. I didn’t fully agree with his advertising value equivalent hypothesis for putting a price on content marketing but there’s definitely something in it to give context to clients.

Make your content go further

The next standout speaker was Paddy Moogan from Aira who looked at reducing risk and increasing the odds of link-building success. He was quick to point out that content isn’t the only way to acquire links but is a sustainable way to get them. Paddy also had some solid, sustainable ideas to make clients’ money stretch further. “Don’t tie content into a specific timeframe but use your outreach,” he advised.

He was all about developing reusable content and creating different content forms (as well as making friends with copywriters) to make your content go further. “Interactive doesn’t have to be cutting edge… it’s about the idea not the technology,” said Paddy. Again, I could be seen nodding eagerly in the crowd.

Keep it relevant

Last up, Stephen Kenwright from Branded3 who explained why best practice is not enough. He demonstrated the power of useful content, highlighting that it all depends what the search is for; poker players want to play poker, so lead them to an app. Football fans will likely seek information, so direct them to a news source. I had nod-ache in my neck at this point.

A timely example Stephen gave was the search query: When do the clocks go back? He compared the top newspaper result – the Mirror – versus gov.uk. The Mirror had a word count of 36,246 vs. gov.uk’s 5,815, while there were 8,663 links to the Mirror vs. 34 to the gov.uk site.



The Mirror ranked four and gov.uk was number one (at the time of analysis). Why? Because it answered the question.

A pledge to elevate content

After listening to Simon, Paddy and Stephen and a range of others at BrightonSEO, I wriggled out of the content headlock, dusted myself down, wiped my face and got on a train home more empowered and ready to face this content challenge head on. Now, more than ever, it’s clear that having robust content isn’t a nice-to-have, it’s a must-have.

Clients are going to redress their budget balance in favour of content. They will love what I have to tell them off the back of this most splendid conference. And we will make content king complete with a proper crown (sparkling jewels included), a silk gown and even velvet shoes. I’ll keep you posted.

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