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Published on November 22nd, 2012 | by 011100110110010

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Google Updates & Search Behaviour Towards Content Marketing

Today we are going to discuss the chameleon that is the SEO industry, forever trying to adapt to the harsh world of the SERP’s.

Below you will see search user interest in the term ‘content marketing’ from 2004 to present day. Yes the data is from Google Trends not the most reliable tool in the world but one that shows an interesting change in behaviour. Check it out for yourselves.

From 2004 to 2011 the interest in content marketing was pretty static with mild fluctuations from time to time. However in Q1 2011 we start to see more interest in content marketing as a term. Look back into the dark vortex of your mind and you’ll possibly remember when Panda (a content related update) was released. You got it, February 2011. Whispers of mystical quality content & content marketing start to appear in blog posts around the SEO blogosphere.

Throughout 2011 there is a steady increase in interest in the term, the peak of which is in November which coincides with the ‘freshness update’. We are beginning to realise that our content not only has to be ‘quality’ but we have to produce a fuck load of it!

January 2012, Google decide to hit the search community with search + your world (resulting in agencies suddenly offering a Google+ service) a page layout algorithm (another change/tweak in content layout) and yet another panda update. From January to February we see a large jump up in content marketing based searches which doesn’t slow down until April.

“Matt, they’ve stopped searching for content marketing, what do we do?”

“Release the penguin”

And so they did. 

Now this update meant that SEO’s had to think about their content in terms of how it looked on-site to reactively attract links and visitors but also off-site so that they could actively create links. As you can see below the interest hasn’t stopped since. Poor bastards.

When the next SEO genocide happens I’ll check out the search user data to see whether people are still looking to use content marketing. If not I’ll be more than happy to pronounce the term dead ;)

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Google Updates & Search Behaviour Towards Content Marketing, 8.7 out of 10 based on 10 ratings

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About the Author

One day I will make a living out of this industry, until then I'll carry on writing here.



29 Responses to Google Updates & Search Behaviour Towards Content Marketing

  1. Emma says:

    Nice bit of research – cute correlation you have there.

    So, I’ve heard Google are releasing “Pony” next/now/have already done so without tell anyone (although, we hope the official name will become Zebra, Polar Bear or Skunk) – maybe [Content Marketing] will have a new wave, once people start releasing “Post Pony Strategy” article BS. I shudder to think of all the My Little Pony graphics that will be added to nthese articles (the art for that show freaks me out) – Kung Fu Panda, Penguins of Madgascar, okay, fair enough, but no more MLP please.

    (I liked your article and just wanted to rant)

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    • Haha, I can imagine the brony niche (probably small) of the SEO industry going into overdrive with the content! :)

      (thank you)

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      • Emma says:

        Ah, one of the guys at our office hopes it’ll be called “Unicorn” – maybe he’s secretly a Brony. I’m scared.

        Maybe we should conduct research of what sub-niches SEOs come into – bronies, furries, mummy bloggers, gamers, trolls, Twilight fans etc – I’d be interested

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        • Haha, definitely a good idea! My name is Sean, I’m an SEO and addicted to Furbies & Harry Potter.

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          • Emma says:

            I’m sure there’s a furby/cabbage patch kid niche of SEO somewhere. Someone has to optimise those sites.

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    • Nischal says:

      I think google should spare innocent animals like Panda and Penguin…the next brutal update should be named Python.

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  2. Tad Chef says:

    IMHO that’s really ironic as Panda targeted content marketing or content farming. The sites targeted by Panda weren’t penalized for SEO they were for massive content creation with keywords in mind. So the logical reaction should be a move towards more SEO, CRO, UX but not more focus on content or even more content by itself.

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    • Yes, Panda targeted poor quality/thin/shit content. What are you going to do to fix this?

      Remove the shit and create decent content.

      How have people tried to package this? Content marketing.

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  3. Funny how ‘directory submission’ has held its own over that time frame!
    http://www.google.com/trends/explore#q=content%20marketing%2C%20directory%20submission&cmpt=q

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    • Haha, Luke that’s a great spot and unfortunately shows that when people don’t know what to do sometimes they freeze and just carry on regardless! :)

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  4. Alessio says:

    Always good to read you Sean!

    to be honest, I don’t like the term “content marketing” so I’m not THAT interested when I read discussion around it.

    Now, not to sound childish, but I’m always saying: you have to market an idea, if the idea is great, then you don’t need any content marketing, because people will love your idea and stuff. What we always forget in this discussion is the USER. I mean, only after a fuckin update you realize your content/site/link profile is shitty? That’s A PROBLEM. A real problem, but not Google related. It’s a problem because you were selling shit to people basically , and now…how you dare to complain?

    Moreover, there is another problem I’m seeing: people following the last trends just to be on board when discussions on twitter or google+ are on fire. Isn’t this sad?

    And NOBODY is stopping and thinking: ok the update, but it’s true my site was doing shitty stuff, NOW, let’s stop and put the things in order. NOPE, people are spending time writing articles about how to recover from updates, rather than for example spending some hours talking with customers through call centers or whatevs.

    I’m saying this stuff over and over and over, and I’m receiving a lot of criticisms too, but actually I don’t care. Because if I’m online with a company I wanna do something cool anyway, and not wait for an update, complain and then learn how to cheat.

    (this comment was written listening to Porcupine Tree’s In Absentia)

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    • Yo man, always good to see you in the comments :)

      I totally get what you mean. We are also doing the same thing. Create content that your users want to see and create content that people might want to link to.

      That’s it.

      If it is both one and the same then brilliant. If not then we are having to work a little harder…

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  5. Iain says:

    It is a strange fate that we should suffer so much fear and doubt over something as stupid as what we call a particular method of marketing. Does it really matter?

    Still, I guess it gives the rage merchants something to rant about until the next “What The Hobbit Taught Me About SEO” blog comes along.

    Not that you’re a rage merchant, buddy. I meant, err, someone else.

    If people don’t have the nous to work out for themselves what is and is not worthwhile, regardless of label, when so much advice is out there it’s really their own problem. Take the recommendations you see, apply your brain to them, use the ones that aren’t stupid, creepy or inefficient, lather, rinse, repeat.

    Too many people want to cruise along without applying thought, reason or sense to the things they see and read. It’s really a shame, but it’s not my problem.

    Is that so wrong??

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    • Hey Iain, cheers for your thoughts.

      Haha, I rarely rant about algorithms. What’s the point? We are playing a game and Google own the rulebook.

      I think the only people that live in fear and doubt are the marketers who know they are doing things that they shouldn’t be. I’ve had jobs before where I lived in fear of monthly reports, ranking checks etc because I knew that I was doing something that could fall like a house of cards at any second.

      Now I feel I’m doing things in the ‘right way’ I’m confident that we will see positive results over time that won’t fuck the client over in the long term.

      I totally agree that if people aren’t careful or considered in how they do things they deserve what they get. It’s not wrong at all.

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      • Iain says:

        Yeah, I wasn’t meaning you, but there is a lot of it about. Bugs me. Entirely ironic when they spend a whole blog ranting about people who write worthless (in their opinion) blogs.

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        • It’s cool man. Even if you did mean me it doesn’t matter.

          99% of SEO blogs are worthless, including this one. I know that but enjoy writing regardless :)

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  6. Iain says:

    If I meant you I’d say so. Promise. I just went off on a tangent because I read something this morning about the phrase ‘content marketing’ being evil/disgusting because it’s “just publishing”.

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  7. Iain says:

    Really though? Enough to get upset about?

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  8. Barry Adams says:

    Case closed: http://www.google.com/trends/explore#q=content%20marketing,%20inbound%20marketing,%20seo

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  9. Dustin Verburg says:

    Does it really matter what it’s called? You can put horse piss in a wine bottle and call it Pinot Gris and market the hell out of it– but in the end it’s still horse piss.

    I’m getting a bit tired of the name game, but once the reactionary ‘tastemakers’ and ‘trendsetters’ start using a phrase we’re doomed to read it until it dies and goes back to what it was before, right?

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    • Hey Dustin,

      It doesn’t matter what it’s called. The point was that when SEOs get grilled by Google they start looking for ways to counter it and my extensive research (lol) proves (lol) that content marketing is what they are looking for.

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      • Dustin Verburg says:

        Right. And when SEOs get grilled on something they don’t want to stop doing, sometimes they just try to change the name and move on with it like it’s a different thing. That might not be the case here, but I am seeing it lately.

        Also, would you like to buy some wine? It’s a fine vintage.

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        • Oh most definitely. I think it’s fair to say we’ve seen a great deal of change within the SEO world over the last 2 years. Some of it has been done algorithmically and some produced by SEO ‘influencers’.

          I think it would be really helpful if someone universally respected (Bill Slawski?) Just wrote a “This is SEO” ‘bible’ that everyone could agree on. Then all this bullshit speculation can end :)

          Sounds great, what hour was it made?

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  10. Marvin Webster says:

    I seldom leave comments anywhere, but this thread hit a nerve with me also. What I find difficult is to get clients too understand that what we do is not generally a finite something with visual evidence of value. I tell them they are paying me for strategic thinking. I begin with an objective and design a blueprint to efficiently achieve that objective. When everything is planned out both on page and off I show them that blueprint and then they show me a website they stumbled across and say “Can you make our website look like this?”

    It will have all kinds of graphic bells and whistles like flash and a link structure that totally scrambles any silo structuring. I respond “Sure, if you want to depend on paid traffic as your only source of potential conversions..”

    Content curation enables us to efficiently attract highly relevant and targeted traffic with reduced work, yet the uneducated would rather make a “stupid” decision based on the graphic design.

    That all began back in the caveman days with drawings on the cave wall and continues today.

    Interesting blog post 01100111011001010110010101101011.

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