Previously, content quality was a requisite for owning relationships. In the last few years, online publishers have learned that they can instead master the nearly free discovery pathways of search and social media. This spring, a horde of AOL journalists, Paul Miller, Joshua Topolsky and others, left after learning that they would be required to produce content based on trending interest according to Google and Twitter reporting.
Ironically, it is this approach to audience marketing that appears to worry Google. In recent weeks, Google announced it’s +1 listings feature, which allows account users to rate both organic and paid listings, increasing their favorability by the engine directly or indirectly. Meanwhile, earlier this year Google also announced changes to its search algorithm meant to mitigate the effect of low-quality content pages.
Quantcast and comScore reported significant traffic declines for the standout content farm, eHow by Demand Media, shortly afterwards. Google more likely realizes that the quality of its listings is critical to its continued success as the de facto navigational and discovery tool for online content. As Matt Cutts recently stated on the official Google Blog: “Our goal is simple: to give people the most relevant answers to their queries as quickly as possible.”
In the long run, there will be plenty of opportunity for high-quality content. The Wall Street Journal, the largest newspaper in the country with a print-and-digital paid circulation of 2.11M, charges for access to its content. Likewise, the risky and much-criticized move by the New York Times to gate its content has resulted in year-over-year gains in digital ad and circulation revenue, stemming the ongoing sales loss faced by this incredible brand in recent years.
This event has particular meaning to RBM, a SEO company in New York, because in the past, the major media brands able to survive with gated content were large financial news outlets. The New York Times, by contrast, is squarely general interest. Despite the high profiles of free and user-generated content brands, we believe professionally produced content looks forward to a long and profitable future in the digital media world.
At RBM they do things a bit differently: they seek to enable a business through social media, rather than simply run creative ideas or campaigns. They create a road map for their clients to deploy a social infrastructure across their organization, taking into consideration team restheirces/assets, governance, existing marketing infrastructure, and the unique technology needs.