The Mayan calendar ended. Contrary to the “predictions” it wasn’t the end of the world, just the end of Mayan content. To avoid having your company come up short on content, let’s take a quick look at the history of web content and trends with “to-the-top”.

The Development of SEO and Content Marketing

The web has been based on two things – text and links. As with any new idea or product, the initial iterations were easy to abuse, fake and duplicate.

Many of us remember the early tricks: fonts the same colour as the background, hidden text, and keyword-stuffed pages. Early Google updates, like Alberta, forced webmasters to create content instead of text.

Links were easy to place, but they still needed a vehicle. Content writing sites developed to meet webmasters’ and SEOs’ needs for link-carrying content. During this time, links were the name of the game, and SEOs were looking for the best balance of cost and quality.

In February 2011, Panda fundamentally changed website creation and promotion. The quality and depth of the content of the site came under attack. Webmasters and SEOs who were used to thin content were pushed to include more meaty pieces.

Site developers who were used to slow rollouts and random content updates found a renewed importance in consistently developing readable content. However, since there was a variety of standard, functioning link-building tactics, SEOs focused on pumping out content and using those networks while they could. The number of content creation companies and providers exploded – along with the need for higher quality content.

In April 2012, the other side of the SEO equation, links, came under fire. Paid links, link wheels, blog networks and other strategies for easily spreading content suddenly were penalized.

SEOs had learned that content had to be good; now the question became, “Where do I put this stuff?” Without the clear strategies to promote content and get links, content creation requests slowed as SEOs reconsidered their entire content marketing plan.

The Future of SEO and Content Marketing

So now what? The data shows that SEOs have learned that low-quality content won’t cut it, not with the current link building situation. High-quality content can bring in links with little effort, but there is a high risk of these strategies being abused.

The recent ICOA press release fiasco shows that even a process that has been successful for more than 50 years has its flaws and weaknesses. The key here is to find sustainable, quality strategies for a long-term brand building.

Yet, we enter the paradox – the easier a strategy is, the more likely it will be abused and lead to penalties. Harder strategies aren’t as scalable and profitable. So SEO will have to balance that fine line between using strategies that work for now and long-term, non-scalable solutions.

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