This is the story of the Internet. The very truncated, anecdotal-but-factual story. You should keep reading this story if you’re interested in how to understand the Internet and Google and how marketing fits inside somewhere. You should not keep reading if you’ve already cracked all the codes about using the Internet and making money (and we should talk about you writing a guest post some time!).
In the good old days, the Internet was made of simple ingredients: some tubes, website lists and AOL Internet CDs. Life was, admittedly, much simpler when a “nice evening at home” included gingerly waiting for dial-up to connect so you could check your email before bed. If you were interested in learning more about “building Lego forts,” for example, you needed to know (from an outside source) who or what had a website that addressed your needs. Simply put, the Internet operated much like a telephone book.
But like all good things in life, the Internet changed — it was thrust from the arms of simplicity and contentment by the Evil Lord Master Google. Yes, Google decided it wanted to “organize the world’s information and make it universally accessible and useful.” The nerve!
Folk legend says that the Lead Googler began building large, underground castles and fortresses where men and women worked around the clock to respond to search engine queries. But this wasn’t sustainable, so they took a stab at building highly intelligent, super secretive algorithms instead. Why secret? Because the best things in life have some mystery, of course!
In 2000 Google released its first algorithm, and soon the Internet began scheming. When Google said that keyword volume was the food its algorithm loved to eat all day, then Internet Schemers began created pages and pages of placeholder keywords to trick Google into ranking their sites higher. When Google said that linking to other sites was also appealing to its algorithm, Internet Schemers began building fake websites to link between their real websites. Because of the Schemers (and because Google is a for-profit kingdom!), Google updates its algorithms on a semi-regular basis, much to the dismay of marketers everywhere.
Fast forward a few years, and thankfully there were some people who decided they wanted to try to make sense of the ever-changing Google algorithms and help people grow their businesses — without being all uncomfortably unethical. While there are many competing theories out there, the two that rose to the top were Content Marketing and Inbound Marketing.
The people in the Content Marketing Castle and the Inbound Marketing Castle have a lot of good, complementary ideas. The Content Marketing Castle has smart people like Joe Pulizzi, Ann Handley and Brian Clark, to name a few. And the Inbound Marketing Castle has folks like Brian Halligan, Dharmesh Shah and Marcus Sheridan. All of these people (and countless others!) have contributed to a movement that places a priority on communicating to ideal customers without overtly selling to them. Here are a few reasons why Content Marketing and Inbound Marketing help make sense of the Internet for businesses everywhere.
Content marketing and Inbound Marketing help you respect the increasingly educated online consumer. You know, that person who’s going to conduct a thorough review of your product, service, online reviews and general persona? Yeah, them. These two marketing groups actively carry the torch of embodying the authenticity today’s consumer craves.
Though many, many people would say that Content Marketing and Inbound Marketing are so very different from one another, they actually possess substantial amounts of qualities that each can benefit from. Content Marketing leaders like Content Marketing Institute and MarketingProfs offer actionable advice on how to produce and polish all the pieces of your marketing strategy. They are rich in knowledge thanks to Converted Marketing Folks who brought their traditional publishing standards into the digital space. Where Content Marketing tends to emphasize the substance and production of content, Inbound Marketing focuses on the strategy and data within content. (This isn’t to say that they don’t both value substance and strategy — but their investment in resources lends them to be leaders in one or the other, not both.)
The folks at HubSpot and Moz are your go-to resource for taking all the “content stuff” and turning it into a data-generating machine. Basically, their strategy and marketing software equip people with all the tools they’d need to not only rank on Google, but be the kind of website their ideal customers are looking for. With this marketing software tracking the efficacy of all marketing efforts, businesses can know when a website visitor is moving closer to choosing their product or service. (And if that’s not valuable, I don’t know what is.)
Content Marketing and Inbound Marketing aren’t without their faults, though they are a primary theme in the Story of the Internet because they’re working pretty damn well so far. Content Marketing some times resists the urge of data-driven folks (aka the guys in Inbound Marketing) to organize and systemize content into a sales funnel. Also, Inbound Marketing, when done right with really good software, can be costly.
Luckily for all of us, both Content Marketing and Inbound Marketing practice what they preach, offering relevant, up-to-date training on their websites at absolutely no cost. Sound too good to be true? It’s not. At their core, Content Marketing and Inbound Marketing are eagerly waiting for the opportunity to prove to you that they respect you as an educated consumer — and what better way than to become your trusted resource for all things content and inbound marketing?
This post originally appeared here on LinkedIn.