“Content is King” has been a catchphrase around the Internet since someone said it first about a decade ago. Everyone has lots of ideas about how to create quality content, and everyone agrees you need it — but like so many other things in the SEO world, a lot of people are mistaking a tool for a goal. You don’t ‘succeed’ at making quality content and then you’re done. Quality content isn’t the goal — ever.
Here’s the secret Catch-22 about quality content that no one ever tells you about: it doesn’t matter how awesome your content is if nobody reads it, and until you give people a reason to read it, nobody will. The internet has as many words on it as there are atoms in the Moon  — people will always have several hundred other things they’d rather read before they get to your site.
Reputation Needs To Come First
Let’s face it — the songs Justin Timberlake sings now aren’t really that much different from the ones he sang back when he was part of whatever boy band he was a part of. The only difference between him and Nick LeShay (who?) is that Timberlake worked his butt off building his reputation, and LeShay married that blonde girl who doesn’t know that tuna isn’t a kind of chicken. LeShay still sings — he’s still really good at it compared to you or me — but no one cares, because there’s only enough room in our collective consciousness for so many people worth paying attention to.
The Internet is the same way. You can produce a thousand pages of the highest quality content every day for a year and unless someone recognizes your name, no one is going to care.
Commercial Interest Is Never the Answer
No one wants to link to one of their competitors and say “Holy socks, this guy knows what he’s talking about!” And no one ever linked to a site and told
their family “Wow, this guy sold me something I never would have normally spent money on!” You get a reputation by appealing to interests that aren’t
commercial, and then linking the commercial interests afterwards.
I may have mentioned this one too many times already, but if you haven’t, you seriously need to go take a look at Dollar Shave Club. This is the primo example of a company that created a reputation overnight by appealing to people’s senses of humor — and then created a functional business by appending a killer business deal onto the end of that 2-minute bit of uber-virality.
This may seem completely contradictory to anyone who got into business because they needed money — but it makes perfect sense to anyone who got into business because they love their business. Free stuff sells — which is to say, it’s a lot easier to get your ideas into everyone else’s heads if you give them away. And having your ideas in everyone else’s heads is step one through infinity in reputation building. And once you have a reputation, you can start appending business transactions and making serious money.
So, in review:
- Quality content doesn’t sell anything, including itself, unless you have the reputation to back it up.
- But you can’t have a reputation without having content.
- So the only solution is to give your best ideas (content) away for free.
- Giving away your best ideas for free will build your reputation.
- Once you have a reputation, your content can become a functional sales platform.
So you never stop creating quality content — but the content isn’t the goal. First it’s a tool to build a reputation, then it’s a tool to build profit. The same is true in SEO, in social marketing, and in brick-and-mortar business.