Content writing as advertising

I think that a lot more marketing folks understand the need for creating quality content than actually do it. One reason is that it’s a job they allocate to themselves, rather than outsource with a budget, yet never quite get around to it. If that’s you, maybe this year could be the one where that starts to change.

A while back, one company I’ve worked with produced a whole series of short (200- to 500-word) pieces defining industry terms. About 20% of these have done very well indeed over the last few years in Google. I think the going rate to commission a good technical writer to produce something similar would be around £200 an article, so at that rate, to emulate this would cost us £1000 for every article that hits home.

Now, the articles have each attracted tens of thousands of website visits. Generating visits directly (through Google Ads) would cost about £1 to £2 a time, so at first glance getting the articles written is a no-brainer. However, the Google Ads traffic would be much better targeted (commercially and geographically), so in reality the two approaches may be in the same ballpark.

Where the content scores over buying traffic through Google Ads is twofold. First is its longevity – once £1000 of writing has generated as many decent visits as £1000 of Google Ads, the rest is a bonus; that could take a month, or it could take ten years, but there’s a good chance it will happen. Secondly – and more significantly – the new pages which do well in Google will undoubtedly have a knock-on effect on the site as a whole. Think about it from Google’s point of view: if a site ranks averagely for ‘blue widgets’, but suddenly starts hosting the top-ranked pages for ‘blue widget maintenance’ and ‘blue widget market forecasts’, do you think that would help the site for ‘blue widgets’ too? I think we can guess that it just might. Those top-ranking pages will also, in time, generate external links organically, and those of course are one of the greatest prizes of all.

So if you want to balance your promotional budget between a short-term and a long-term investment, splitting it between Google Ads and commissioning well-targeted original content writing could be a smart option.