When creating content, one of your primary goals is to grab people’s attention and get them to click on your link. But there are other considerations as well. You want to provide people with something that they’ll find useful. You want to be able not just to grab their interest, but hold it, and keep them coming back for more content as time goes on.
Unfortunately, there are some unscrupulous content marketers who don’t bother with any of that. Their only concern is to get you to click their link at any cost. And in order to do so, they’ll exploit every loophole they can find that helps drive their numbers up. They’ll create false or misleading headlines to draw people in (you’ve seen these: “How to lose weight overnight with this one weird tip!” or “Does this common product cause and/or cure cancer?”). They’ll post deliberately controversial and inflammatory articles in the hope of generating buzz—any kind of buzz—for their brand. Or they’ll take popular keywords and stuff them into every corner of their website, without any context or reference, just to drive their site higher in search results. Tactics like these are called Linkbaiting. And they’re the scourge of content marketers everywhere.
At first glance, it may seem like a tempting shortcut to content success. It gets your brand out there and spurs people to talk about it. After all, they say there’s no such thing as bad publicity. Isn’t grabbing your audience’s attention what you’re supposed to be doing with your content?
This is true up to a point. But it overlooks two important issues. First of all, lying to, manipulating or deliberately insulting a person or group just to increase web traffic is morally reprehensible. If this doesn’t bother you (and there are, sadly, plenty of marketers for whom it doesn’t), then consider the second issue. Remember that your initial content—a blog, article, video, podcast, etc.—is only the first step in a longer process.
Success with content marketing isn’t just about drawing people to your site. It’s about showing those people why you’re a brand to be trusted, and why they should ultimately buy from you. It’s about building relationships with your potential customers, answering their questions and doing your best to meet their needs.
But if you lie to your audience to get them to click your link, then once they’ve seen your content, they’ll realize they’ve been had. If you game the SEO system to improve your standing in search results, people will quickly see that you don’t really have what they’ve come looking for, and move on to the next site on the list. And if you deliberately try to rile people up with your blog posts, it might generate a heated debate in the comments section, but no one is going to buy a product from someone they hate.
There are no shortcuts in legitimate content marketing. It takes time and effort to build up a following and to gain the trust of your audience. It takes more content than just blogs or articles to generate real interest in your brand, and you need to make sure your potential customers stick around for the rest of the process. It’s not an easy task by any means. But if you really put in the effort, and take pride in doing your content right, then the payoff makes it all worth it in the end.