In recent years, the term Content Marketing or “content marketing” has been on everyone’s lips. But what is it exactly? Where does this discipline come from? For some, it is only a trendy word, and yet it has a solid past and persists over time. Since the 19th century, brands have effectively told stories in order to market their products instead of promoting them directly (storytelling). But despite its success, Content Marketing has been gradually forgotten since the appearance of the Internet …

Content Marketing, historical discipline of marketing

At the time, when the Internet did not exist, it was difficult to quickly distribute an advertisement to a large audience. It is for this reason that Content Marketing is not a contemporary form of Marketing. Brands have told stories for centuries with the intention of creating attractiveness and the desire for ownership.

John Deere for example, founder of the American company Deere & Company, published his client magazine “The Furrow” in 1895. This entrepreneur aimed to stimulate demand for tractors by transmitting his know-how on new technologies. He demonstrated how it was possible to farm more efficiently using the tractors he sold.

The first example of European Content Marketing dates back to 1900 with the famous Michelin Guide. With an initial circulation of 35,000 copies, this 400-page guide was distributed free of charge to French motorists. By providing lots of advice on changing tires, nearby petrol stations or gastronomic recommendations (from 1926), the aim was to encourage motorists to drive more.

At the initial stage, Content Marketing was still in the form of Corporate Publishing: publications were distributed free of charge to potential customers. For Jello-O, the dessert brand of Kraft Food, she recognized the importance of the needs and interests of her customers. It is for this reason that in 1904 she released a free cookbook showing variations in recipes with Jello-O products. In the 1930s, Procter & Gamble managed to reach a large audience thanks to the radio. To capture the attention of the audience, the brand created stories of daily life while including the promotion of its products such as Duz or Oxydol. This is how the term “soap opera” was born.

Subsequently, more and more content was created by brands serving the consumer like Carambar with its famous jokes from 1969. These create a moment of entertainment and thus differentiate themselves from the competition.

Degradation of content since the appearance of the Internet

Starting in the 1990s, after the Internet had benefited from its widespread launch, the first companies began to do so with static sites in the form of digital business cards. Many brands have invested with the sole purpose of demonstrating their presence in this new medium. And with the surge in the appearance of websites, search engines were gaining more importance. Without a search tool, it had effectively become impossible for the user to find the information sought.

The first, Aliweb (Archie-Like Indexing of the Web) appeared in 1993, followed by Yahoo a year later, and was easily manipulated by webmasters. This is how natural referencing or “Search Engine Optimization” (SEO) took its roots. This discipline takes into account all the free techniques to optimize positioning on search engines. Then during the 2000s, brands developed structures that allow them to create maximum traffic at the lowest cost.

To achieve this objective, they resorted to flaws in the algorithms of search engines. The more a site matches the request entered, the better its positioning. Thus, methods allowing to manipulate the relevance of the results were created. These include link farms where a large number of links to the site (backlinks) are created automatically.

Other methods also favor the ranking to the detriment of the internet user such as duplicate content which consists of reusing identical text in several places on the site. There is also the accumulation of keywords to increase the probability of being ranked among the first on search results. Reading these texts, with a keyword density of up to 10%, is actually not pleasant to read. Most webmasters have only focused on the art of bypassing search engine algorithms. The needs and expectations of the user were rarely taken into account.

The renaissance of Content Marketing under the influence of Google

Google’s beginnings date back to 1995. This search engine was quickly recognized for its ease of use, which made the company an inevitable success. However, Google realized that its algorithm was not in line with its vision of “ […] organize information globally and make it universally accessible and useful To deliver the most relevant results at the time of a search. Thus in 2011, he officially announced the implementation of a continuous improvement system in order to fight against poor quality sites. The first update, the Panda Update, impacted 11.8% of searches. According to Juhan (2015), Google has released 37 updates to date known as Google Panda Update and Google Penguin Update.

Google has a strong impact on the evolution of the Internet as it is the most complete and most frequently used search engine. In December 2014, 93.5% (source: AT Internet) of searches in England were carried out using Google. Thanks to his approach to downgrade poor quality sites and exclude deceptive sites from his index for a while, he completely revolutionized the web.

A query with Google Trends shows the relevance of the search term “content marketing” worldwide in connection with the use of ” Google Panda Update “And” Google Penguin Update Between 2004 and 2015:

The evolution of the search term
The evolution of the search term “Content Marketing” based on updates to the Google algorithm, Source: (07/19/2015)

As the holder of the search engine monopoly, Google therefore has undeniable power. Being sanctioned by Google means for a brand a loss of significant source of income. A recent survey by the Content Marketing Institute (2015) reveals that 86% of companies in B2B and 77% in B2C use Content Marketing. The new algorithms effectively reward quality content with a good ranking.

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