Publisher content is the backbone of a web of information on the Internet. Without publisher content, search engines would have less results to provide thus searchers would be less likely to find relevant results. Content producers, namely large publishers, have known this for years but have been trying to determine the best way to position content to monetize on this strength. This could help examine the recent trend by the large search engine companies jump into their own unique content development. Additionally, bloggers have begun to realize and capitalize on content production via the emergence of the blogosphere. After various attempts, two high-level, basic publisher content strategies have emerged though they may have slight variations or hybrid form the purest form are as follows:
1. Paid Content
2. Free Content
The paid content method has been tried by many but has been successful for few. This strategy has only worked when the content offered is so extraordinary that visitors cannot get it somewhere else and, therefore, are willing to pay for it. The Wall Street Journal is the prime example of successfully executing this strategy as an online newspaper site; however, the WSJ produces an overabundant amount of unique content and boasts an international brand that people trust.
The New York Times recently started a similar strategy with Times Select and seems to be doing well thus far for predominantly the same reasons as the WSJ. Outside of the traditional newspaper publishers, Playboy is the prime example of how sex sells with its paid content offerings. Additionally, Consumer Reports is another example of a paid content success story for its valued, exclusive reviews and ratings of consumer products. There are probably other paid content initiatives that I have failed to mention but I will leave it to you do find and discover them.
Those successful examples aside, the free content scenario seems to make more sense, as not every content-producing firm has the same brand awareness and iconic following. However, with a free content offering a content producer could still position its offering to leverage abundant and strong content by making content free, permanent and opened to the world to discover. This way, each individual site could push out thousands of content items or stories a week that could then be optimized to the item level for search via Google, Yahoo and MSN.
Search engine optimization, or SEO, at the item level is very important to a successful free content strategy. It has, for example, helped countless bloggers pull visitors to their blogs without having the brand awareness of a large content producer. So, in short, the website is just a place to display free content and serve advertisements around that content. Syndication has furthered the website as a landing place for content display and ad serving, however, that’s another Somewhat Frank post topic altogether.
Google, Yahoo, MSN search and the viral qualities of the blogosphere content producers should drive traffic and page views to the excess of indexed content. As more content becomes available online, there is now more virtual real estate available to sell and display advertisements. By making content evergreen, or permanent, a publishing company will have enormous amounts of content available in search engine results, thus, increasing their traffic. Google, Yahoo, MSN and other search engines should just be brokering visitor eyeballs to this content and the content producers should truly be King.
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