Content is Tyrant: Is it Publish or Perish for Everybody Now?


Summary: In the era of “content marketing” it’s not just scientists and SEO specialists who have to create content to survive.

Every business seemingly has to as Google etc. needs content to monetize. Do you have to submit to the content tyranny or does it suffice to offer what you already sell?

In the SEO industry many people claim that they are SEO experts because they have worked with Fortune 500 brands and the likes.

Nobody knows what exactly they did but well, who cares? Well, people care. In SEO it’s like in the science community despite SEO being more of a craft: publish or perish.

In case you don’t have a blog and do not advise people publicly what SEO techniques to choose there is no peer review and these “SEO experts” are not accountable.

Does this also apply to your niche or industry? Read on to find out! Don’t just parrot the “content is king” mantra singing monks.

Are You an Expert? Ask Other People

You can “wow” some poor souls with big wallets probably but you don’t deserve respect in the SEO industry as long as you keep hiding your actual skills. This is also the case with other areas of expertise. Claiming to be an expert yourself is always a bit awkward.

Everybody can claim that s/he is an expert but only other people can judge whether you are. So in SEO just like in science publishing your ideas and findings is key to get a name. Then other people refer to you as an expert and link to you.

Sometimes they will link to your content then in other cases they will just point their links to your website homepage. So do you need content or not? It depends. Let’s take a step back though.

These days, after years of repeating the “content is king ” and “you need great content” mantras a new hype reigns: content marketing.

Google and other major corporations eager to monetize third party content have been pushing everybody to create quality content to get

  • rankings
  • traffic
  • sales

while in reality still links are the most important ranking signal. You still need more relevant, trustworthy, authority inbound links. In case content helps you acquiring links then by any means create such outstanding content that attracts links! In other cases don’t waste your energy on content when people link to you away for other reasons.

Content by itself does not make you popular! It’s the fact that it gets shared and linked to that makes you rise in search results and get traction on social media.

It seems that content is a prerequisite to get those links and shares. Can’t you get them without content?

That’s not a question I ask. I get asked it all the time by clients. Clients do not want to create “great content”. They want to pay for SEO and get links without having to create content. That’s the reality. When I tell them to create content they don’t call back.

Most Businesses Are Not Into Publishing

My SEO clients prefer most likely link building or any other hassle-free way to get rankings, traffic and sales without having to publish additional content. Why? Most businesses are not publishers.

They sell products or offer services and those are their business model. Creating and spreading content is not part of their business in most cases and they are not eager to change that.

Now who am I to tell clients that in the 21st century you can’t get found on the Internet as long as there is nothing to find?

First they claim that they have content. They will say things like “look at our product descriptions (we copied from the manufacturers)”.

Your sales copy is not content though – it’s part of the packaging. I try to explain it again and again. Some people get it faster than others but most of them grapple with the need to hire additional content creators or create content themselves.

They struggle to change their business practices in such a way that they have something to say or offer content-wise in the first place. Content can’t be just impersonal and descriptive. You need a whole new approach! SO what. Is there a compromise possible? Can you attract links without going into online publishing?

Forcing People to Create Content Won’t Work

Before I force my client to pay for a completely different service than what they initially approached me for just to please Google and their bottom line I try to find common ground. So how can we actually attract links without content creation?

For search engine optimization and organic reach you still need links and shares but content is just one way to get those.

There are many modern SEO practices you can use to get those links and shares without resorting to brand journalism which is the old less hyped name for content marketing.

You can be awe-inspiring to get links/shares by

  1. reaching out
  2. being generous
  3. spectacular

Outreach is about addressing the people who already care for you or the products you sell.

Generosity is about spending money on things people appreciate instead of buying ads.

Being spectacular is about jumping from space or at least doing something inspiring on Earth.

Once you do these things you don’t have to write yourself about them. Other people will be glad to mention or describe you and your actions.

Don’t regurgitate news – make news! Be newsworthy. Be likeable and shareable. Actions speak louder than words.

  • Instead of buying distracting Google ads offer support for free for artists, bloggers or non-profits.
  • Instead of buying this huge full page ad everybody tries to ignore in the dying newspaper that only gets read by the elderly make the news all over the place by offering a service for free others don’t.
  • Instead of paying for that incredibly costly Superbowl ad consider inviting 100 families from poor backgrounds to the Superbowl and let them express their gratitude.

The above examples are pretty simple but you get the point I hope. Even in case such marketing budget won’t help immediately you will have thankful supporters and brand evangelists for years to come.

At the same the ads may not help your business either and once the money is spent nobody will remember you. It’s not publish or perish for everybody. Content is tyrant. You can be awesome and attract links without content. On the Web link is president! Let the people support you with their online votes.

Thus do not let Google force you to create content for them to monetize. Create something newsworthy and shareable.

Content creation and promotion is just one way to deal with the current Web.

You don’t have to do it in case you are better at actually helping and impressing people. There are enough others who will be glad to create content about you once you deserve it.

Just think of Red Bull and how they manage to stage both share and link-worthy stunts. Sure, they combine it with high quality content creation. Yet on the other hand many of Red Bull’s sponsored athletes just create content and “raise hell” on their behalf.

* Creative Commons licensed image by Cyril Attias