By now, we’re used to seeing our content displayed within search engine results pages, as Google tries to answer questions without searchers having to click through.
Years ago, we all answered Google’s demand for content. Blogs, how-to guides, videos, the lot. But a lot of people created – I’ll say it – trash content. Content that didn’t answer questions, didn’t reveal specialist knowledge and only stood to clutter up the internet.
Google started selecting the best snippets to display in SERPs – because it does not exist to publicise us. It’s not a democracy. Google’s reason for being is as a business serving its customer an easy search experience.
So, we no longer get the clicks we were creating the content for. Is this the end of content production?
Spoiler: content isn’t dead. Unless…
If your aim with content is to get people to click through to your site, maybe this is the end of content production for you. The time and effort are not justifiable if you get little return.
However, if you create content to help people make a buying decision, advise customers on using your products or educate on an expert topic, no. Keep going. You’re doing great.
When content is worth it for you:
- You make content to educate on a specialist topic
- You make content to inform your existing customer base
- You make content to advise potential customers on product features
- You’d be making content even if Google didn’t exist
Google SERPs are homogenised beyond recognition
Using Google US as an example, 49% of searches are solved within the results page, 7% go to a paid result and 6% click through to a Google-owned property. Go to image search. It’s dominated by Google product ads. Google picks what it displays, and it will always favour Google revenue.
Content isn’t dead (although someone announces some area of marketing has died every other day) but mindless content creation for the sake of it isn’t worth your time. Google will mostly favour your content if it’s highly relevant, bitesize-able and well-made, because it serves its purpose of no-click search results.
Even then, that’s not enough reason to be doing it. SERP features for your content, rather than your product or service pages, should be a mere bonus.
Treat content SEO as the sprinkles on top
Your main focus as a business should be on revenue-generating activities. And, yes, content production can build your brand and save money or make money in the long run – but it’s a separate thing. A long-term project that requires consistency, love and patience.
If it’s a choice between building and promoting commercial pages well, or investing in content, prioritise your money-makers first. Content is no longer a cheap way to grow your website’s value and traffic, and it takes time and attention to make good content that will please your audience.
Only do it if you can do it well
If you can invest the time and effort in content production, do so. But ONLY then.
Great content acts as an assist to traditional marketing – it can be the decider in the research phase that wins you that purchase. Bad content can do the opposite and is just a time-suck now Google is so discerning with SERPs.
With truly valuable content, you’ll still get the brand attention by being featured in very specific SERPs, which may lead to click-throughs. But more importantly: you’ll get engagement on social, you’ll encourage conversion for buyers in the research phase and you’ll be serving your existing customers.
Content has been slowly getting back to what it should be for. And I’m here for it.