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The great part about digital marketing is that there is no shortage of advice to be found. No matter what corner of the web you land on, people are telling you how they have cracked the Google algorithm or how they can read pagerank in their Starbucks tea leaves. The only problem is that digital marketing advice, by its very nature, has a short half-life. It doesn't sit pristine on the shelf; it decays. What works for your Business SEO or social media efforts one day could very well get you penalized the next.

It's Billing's Law: Educational content inherently degrades over time at a rate relative to changes in the industry.

When we educators first produce content, be it an eBook, article or blog post, we surely stand by what we say. It's the truth, or at the very least what we believe to be the truth. We have researched, asked and probed. We have written, rewritten, scrapped it all, written a third time, and finally published it. We're proud of what we produce, and we love to help, but even the best advice is soon made irrelevant by the ever-shifting nature of digital marketing. It can be maddening, but it's the reality we have to work with.

So how do you, the reader, combat this?

The best way, the only true way, is to shop for education the same way you shop for your fruits and vegetables:

At a farmers' market.

Wait, no, that's not right. It's FRESH; you have to make sure your content is FRESH. Even the most popular content from early in 2012 is already being made obsolete. Does this mean it's bad content and the creators should feel bad? Of course not, it's just Billing's Law in action.

The reality is that there are so many people putting out so much great content, there's no reason to resort to old stuff. Material from this week is best, this month is probably safe, but anywhere outside of a few months and you're in the danger zone baby. So when you read advice, do us a favor: Double check the date, softly squeeze near the stem, and stay safe out there.

 

Original post about Content Value can be found on Wikimotive's blog titled, "The Degradation of Value" by Dan Hinds.

Views: 32

Tags: Business, SEO, content, degradation of value, educational, half-life

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Comment by Timothy Martell on January 29, 2013 at 12:11pm

The problem Ralph, is that when we used to say "quality content wins." We were, frankly, wrong. We were fluffy rainbow and unicorn loving beatnik's. And the black hats were getting position one rankings by building link farms. Let's face it. Black hat SEO wasn't exactly a flash in the pan. It worked and for a good long while too. Sure it might change, but the "content kings" of old, were not rewarded by the Google algorithm as they are today.

I guess, if people want to take credit for the insight of where things would go, there's some cache there. But frankly, until recently... content was not king. It should have been. And I'm sure glad we got there. But I'm not really talking about fundamentals either. 

Anything worth doing should be based on a solid foundation -- solid principles. Those things should be timeless. In that respect marketing is still marketing and sales is still sales. Connecting with people to evoke a response or purchasing something you want from someone you like is a timeless truth.

But how you make those connections and evoke those emotions -- how you create that want; those things have changed.

In digital this couldn't be more true. There have been over 30 changes to Panda this year that we know about. I guess one has to ask where we're setting the bar. Are we here to tell everyone what they can find out everywhere else? Or are we trying to provide educational content that people can use to set the bar higher?

Maybe, Ralph, what ADM needs is a "timeless" page or set of pages on the principle's of different digital marketing strategies. Publish those things that don't change and a FAQ that is in your face for people to look at before they ask a question. 

There was a time where buying likes on Facebook provided value; there was a time when filling pages on Squidoo with links to your webpages produced awesome link juice; there was a time when vox was the blog to be on; a link bomb caused the biography of George W Bush to appear in first position on google for miserable failure; JC Penny paid an indian company to spam directories to put them at the top of search engines for every keyword on the planet during the Christmas shopping season. A couple months ago I might have said that Google's Website Optimizer would ruin your website rankings and there was no way around it. But things change...

Comment by Ralph Paglia on January 29, 2013 at 10:22am

Tim, I understand the point you are making here, but all too often find that people post questions that were answered quite effectively a long time ago... Especially process and techniques around customer management, phone calls, email responses, etc. Also, those of us who have counseled against the over reliance on SEO stand vindicated by the very fact that much of what we wrote about good content and the value of customer engagement outside of organic search listings has remained true and consistent.  The fundamentals of digital marketing, the TIPS funnel, are more valid today than they were ten years ago, so it seems to me that the strategic lessons learned around digital marketing since 1995 are valid and a prerequisite before diving into the arcane science of trying to "game Google" or unlock the secrets of Facebook EdgeRank... All too often I see people focusing on the latest shiny objects when they have still not mastered the fundamental principles of a strong Digital Marketing strategy.

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