We’re continuously told that to differentiate in the digital marketplace you need to produce original content. Google even produced a list in 2011 which we covered in our recent blog post ‘Google’s top tips for a better website’ but is it really that simple?
In that article we suggested that not every new piece of content arriving on the internet could be unique; in fact, we’d go as far as to say that the majority of content will do nothing to add to the canon of human knowledge. But does that make it any less relevant to the site in question?
Take for example a white goods retailer. There are lots of them including ‘clicks and mortar’ operations as well as pure online retailers. If you are a small independent white goods retailer, perhaps with a small high street presence in a small town, how are you supposed to compete with the big boys?
Traditionally you would differentiate yourself through a service offering, or better pricing and you could, if you wished, match the big boys with your spending in the local paper and directories. In fact, being local gave you an advantage as you could spend your entire budget in the local area whereas the larger retailers were obliged to spread their budget across the whole of their coverage area.
But the game has changed. Today if you are selling a Hotpoint washing machine and you are trying to compete on a local level with the national retailers, the chance of actually appearing in search results are pretty slim. The larger businesses have firmly entrenched positions and can afford to produce original video content, have bespoke reviews and content written about the product and in most cases employ SEO firms to help them do this. Their sheer size and the amount of resource they can bring to bear make it almost impossible to outrank them, even on a local basis.
But does that mean that the larger players are providing a better service? Offering the best price? Larger retailers have an immediate advantage, not necessarily through doing anything better but simply by their ability to create more unique content. So whilst the ‘mom and pop’ stores may have to do with the manufacturer’s description as they simply don’t have the time or resources to create personalised blogs or videos, they are losing sales through not ranking. In fact, they are in some cases being actively penalised by Google simply because all they have done is copy across the manufacturer’s description.
Ultimately this concentrates the power into a handful of online retailers and breaking this oligopoly is nigh on impossible when the playing field is owned and regulated by a monopoly.
So where does that leave us? Well, this blog post is original content; I should know as I’ve just made it up. Does it add to the general canon of human knowledge? I doubt it. All I have done is regurgitate ideas which have been articulated elsewhere, and probably not as eloquently. But for many smaller firms, unless they can do this then ultimately they appear to be doomed.
The brave new world of Google has swept away great swathes of the traditional advertising marketplace that has been there before including newspapers, directories and TV. Digital growth is everything they tell us. So our advice to all our clients and anyone wishing to rank is to start writing and keep on writing as this is the new currency in the brave new online world.
Oh and by the way, the answer to the headline is no, but it is original!