Over the past five or so years, SEO content creation has seen a sharp decline. This isn’t from laziness on the part of the creators, but rather from a series of content crackdowns being pushed by Big Content, AKA search engines and social media sites like Google and Instagram that can control what content has the most reach.
The main hits against content creation include limiting the reach that posts containing links or phrases like “link in bio,” privileging Alphabet Inc.-owned sources in search, and favoring the placement of advertisements where organic links used to go. As a result, the fight to get on the front page, or featured page, has gotten that much more difficult, and the chances are much higher that your brilliant piece on webmaster will be consigned to the no-man’s land of the second page of Google.
It may be puzzling why content creators don’t just pull up their bootstraps and load up on keywords, but the defeated spirit can be better illustrated in an analogy.
Student = Content-seekers
Professor = Content Creator
Administration = Big Content
When a student visits a professor in office hours, it is because the student needs help understanding a concept, or guidance on an assignment. The professor is glad to help, using all the expertise learned over the years through their own readings and writings and research done in the field of interest. However, a professor is not an encyclopedia, nor able to launch into a learned discourse on any and every subject within the field. So, out of necessity, the professor will recommend to the student perhaps an article or book by another professor in the field, so that the student can have a better understanding of the subject at hand.
Now, imagine that the administration gets wind of this office hours practice of recommending extraneous material to students. The administration says this is bad for students, that students prefer to learn directly from the professor rather than read material recommended by the professor. A new policy is implemented that professors cannot refer students to outside materials, that the professor must be the only and final word on any subject the student must bring up.
Some professors feel this is silly, others quietly, yet frantically, take to the books to gain a comprehensive knowledge on their field of study. The administration favors the latter kind of professors, places their offices in the best locations on campus, and fires or relocates to cramped obscure office spaces the latter kind of professors. Oh, and the information about office hours on the website pages and syllabi of the “difficult” professors has been replaced for advertisements for season tickets to the university’s football games.
Outrageous, right? Step out of the analogy, and it may be a puzzle why many content creators are simply letting Big Content walk all over them. It’s a good thing in a way because this lessens the competition, but if you want to stay relevant online, not to mention visible, then a new approach is necessary.
Tips for Keeping Your Content Alive Online
The most important thing to do is, unfortunately, let go of the linking in your articles. It is a necessary evil, but it will help you improve your own ability to create “native” content that relies solely on your own imagination and research. Plus, readers are more likely to trust content creators who are able to tell them information straight, without any mediators or extra readings to compensate. If you still want to rank and appear on feeds, start making native content, be it text or video or otherwise.
The other thing to do is reprioritize your outreach ambitions. It is better to create content that is primed for people that want to directly receive your content, like an email subscriber or podcast listener, rather than amass an army of followers that may or may not give your newest post a glance while scrolling through the mass of content on their platform(s) of choice. Email newsletters, YouTube series, and the like tend to be better digital channels for gaining loyal subscribers than other channels. Remember, there is a difference between being visible and being seen, and that having a presence does not necessarily guarantee that you will have attention.
The internet is a tough place for content creators, and SEO work only gets harder as more tech regulations continue to stifle creator’s ability to reach readers. Major hits include the filling of a webpage’s space with more advertisements in place of content, and the discouraging of content that leaks out to other content. These setbacks make the job of content creators harder (in a good way), and those creators who want to stay relevant will need to create more native content, video or text, to stay ahead of the competition and in favor of entities like Google whose goal is to more or less monopolize search engine content.
Need more help? Email firstname.lastname@example.org for a complimentary audit of your digital footprint.