We Started This Content Marketing Thing

Did you know a small company in Whatcom County was one of the first to lead the charge in content marketing? Way back in 1997, before content marketing was even a thing, a young entrepreneur by the name of David McInnis started a tiny business in Ferndale, WA called PRWeb.

Early on, David knew the importance of getting traffic back to your website. A steady stream of traffic meant a steady stream of prospects and customers. Since he had no real budget to spend on advertising, he needed to find an inexpensive way to direct traffic back to his website. One day, while mowing his lawn, he had an epiphany: content! This marked the inception of the direct-to-consumer press release and content marketing as we know it today.

Content Marketing Gets its Start in Ferndale

David would allow businesses to come to his website and submit press releases free of charge. This created a huge library of content for David, which he would then optimize to rank well in the search engines. In turn, all that content pointing back to his website would boost his SEO rankings, which meant more traffic, more customers, more press releases and more revenue.

It worked! By 2005, direct-to-consumer press release distribution went hand-in-hand with search engine optimization and online marketing. If you wanted to succeed with SEO, you had better have been distributing press releases and PRWeb was the service of choice.

Businesses were seeing huge gains with press releases. It was an easy and effective way to reach their consumers and boost their SEO standings as well. All they had to do was simply create a piece of interesting content using the right keywords (just like we do today) and distribute it online via PRWeb.

The search engines seemed to like the content, ranking it fairly high in the “News” search results. This typically resulted in a boost in SEO for the business as they had highly ranked content with links pointing back to their website. Typically, the more content (press releases) they created, the better their rankings with the SERPs.

Social Media Integrated into Content

As search engines algorithms improved, so did the service. David introduced trackbacks, one of the first forms of social sharing on the web, to help boost SEO standings even more. He also incorporated social bookmarking and social discovery features (before social media was even a thing!).

By 2006, David had sold PRWeb to a public relations software company for 28 million dollars. As a thought-leader in content marketing, SEO and social media, David was forced to sign a 5-year non-compete agreement. By 2011, David was back at it, but the game had certainly changed.

A Huge Shift in Online Marketing

Google had made major changes to its search algorithms; content marketing was gaining in popularity and flooding the Internet with similar content; social media and social proof became a dominating force in consumer decision making; and the concept of SEO changed completely.

But David always stayed ahead of the curve. He started a new venture, Cranberry, that takes a step away from the creation of content and focuses more on the promotion of content. While David was one of the first to discover that you could generate some really good traffic through content alone, fast-forward 20 years, and that’s common knowledge.

With the cat out of the bag, today, we see 2.73 million blog posts published daily! By 2020 there will be five times more content on the Internet than there is today. The new challenge in today’s landscape is not creating content, but getting your content to stand out above the rest.

This proved to be no problem for this content marketing veteran. David continues to lead the charge in content marketing by amplifying your content and getting it seen by the people who matter. Nowadays, creating the content is only half of your content marketing strategy. Once you create it, you need to amplify it if you expect anyone to actually see your message. Otherwise, your content will simply get lost in the mix.

As the amount of content continues to grow and organic reach becomes harder to obtain, marketers need to ensure that they have a content amplification strategy in place. The promotion of your content is just as important as the creation. Just ask one of the founding father’s of content marketing, he started out in a tiny town called Ferndale!

Sign up for a free 1-on-1 digital marketing consultation with David McInnis now: https://calendly.com/giantcranberry/strategy/.