Aug 20, 2009
I met a consultant who was helping a company build out and reinvigorate one of the sites they used for lead generation. Among his goals was this: Add 1000 new pages of content to the site within a year.
To get to a thousand pages in one year you need around 80 posts a month, so he picked 5 appropriate topic categories, hired 5 writers, and charged each with producing 4 posts a week (reportedly at a cost of $50 a post).
5 x 4 = 20; 20 x 4 = 80; 80 x 12 = 1000(ish). Boo-yah!
He then designated a site manager whose job it was, in part, to ensure that the writers were meeting their weekly/monthly quota and that each post was optimized for search.
Finally, to help drive traffic, he was having links to each post placed on relevant (and reasonably trafficked) Facebook and Yahoo! group pages as well as sites like Digg, del.icio.us, reddit, and so on.
With regard to the actual content of the pages he told me, half-jokingly, “As long as the posts are optimized, I don’t care what’s in them.”
That really caught me up.
While I’ve been blogging for a long-time, both personally and professionally, I had never thought about this activity in such black-and-white, bluntly numeric terms. Being old-fashioned (I’m a digital immigrant, not a digital native, alas), I fear I have too frequently agonized over the quality, novelty, and readability of my posts and almost willfully refused to play the numbers game. Naturally, having the above approach laid out for me, I felt somewhat the fool.
After the bruises to my tender ego had faded (somewhat), I had to admit that, given the nature of the business in question, this “by-the-numbers” method made sense.
Here’s the thing. The company’s success was built on relentless and ubiquitous television ad campaigns in which the main message was essentially, “Call 1-800-…. to see if you qualify for $$$.” The reason this has worked is almost purely statistical. The people they are looking for constitute a tiny fraction of the population (for argument’s sake, let’s say .1%, though the actual number is far smaller). Assuming that these folks are fairly evenly distributed but otherwise difficult to locate, odds are that if you expose one million people to your message, then you will reach 1000 of them (at least statistically).
You can essentially do the same thing online (or can you?) by churning out pages of optimized content and aggressively cultivating off-page links. The beauty is that via judicious selection of the sites where your links appear, you can more effectively target your efforts and, ideally, shift your odds from 1 in 1000, say, to 1 in 100, for example, and at a cost far below that of broadcast media.
Does this mean that the quality of content, it’s relevance to the needs and interests of prospective consumers, it’s “intrinsic value” in other words, doesn’t matter? Yes and no.
If your message is simple (“Do you have problem X? If so, call this number to get $$$”) and customer acquisition is mainly a question of getting that message in front of as many people as possible, then what’s actually on the page, content-wise, might not matter as long as it has gotten them to the aforementioned page in the first place.
If, on the other hand, content is what you are selling (rather than whatever it is your content has led the viewer to see), then then this content does matter and should probably be “good” in the sense of, “informative, instructive, useful, entertaining, etc.”
Now, I do believe that given the importance of link-building to this strategy quality will determine whether or not your posts get Dugg by other Diggers or picked up by a site that has tons of traffic or actively shared by interested humans. This will also especially be the case if you are competing for links on a particular site.
Nevertheless, if you can propagate links cheaply or for free, and you just need to attract clicking eye-balls, then that is all your content needs to be good at.
Image Courtesy of Search Engine People Blog.