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Content decoded: what we mean when we talk about content

Content marketing is a marketing technique of creating and distributing valuable, relevant and consistent content to attract and acquire a clearly defined audience – with the objective of driving profitable customer action. – Content Marketing Institute

In the digital age, content marketing is used to attract and retain online customers though the consistent creation and curation of valuable and relevant material in order to enhance and encourage consumer behaviour. Marketers use it as an ongoing, integrated strategy which focusses on owning media and not renting it. Search engines, such as Google, reward sites who publish consistent, quality content with better search ranking performance, which makes it an invaluable strategy for digital marketers.

According to Simon Dumenco of Adage.com, marketers first started referring to “content” around the time of Web 1.0 when he says “coders gained the upper-hand, and creative types [were] backed into a corner”. These “creative types”, he suggests, created the hype surrounding content to counter the new coder-owned internet strategy (namely Google’s search algorithm) and announcing big statements like “Content is king.”

With the pressure mounting on content creation and the focus on producing more and more content at faster rates in order to stand any chance against competition (and to pander to Google’s requirements), standards will inevitably erode. According to Dumenco, content creation has steered towards what he calls ‘more marginal’ content with the sole intention of boosting page views. He cites things such as Buzzfeed and Upworthy lists comprising of little more than a photo slideshow.

Not content with your content?

Over in the US, content marketers are starting to remedy the trend and there is talk of producing content with more depth, allowing for more engagement and conveying a brand’s message beyond a simple tagline or back-link. “Storytelling and narrative are the new watchwords” advises Dumenco.

As explained previously, Google reward sites with better rankings that are producing quality and consistent content, and it’s the key to valuable consumer interaction via social media and driving inbound traffic and leads. For things like PPC to work, there needs to be good content behind it that is going to engage and entice customers. Successful content is about something more than just the business, it’s about issues and items that are going to interest the reader.

This is all very well. But for those new to digital marketing and the world of content, it’s a complex world and some of the jargon might need explaining.


Ad-Rank’s A-Z Content Marketing Jargon Buster


Anchor text

A word or phrase exists as the link to a particular web page. When following links to index new pages, Google uses the anchor text to understand the context of the content on those pages. But over-engineering anchor texts on third party sites can lead to penalties in accordance with Google’s Penguin update.


Black hat SEO

This is what we must avoid as these are the tactics that infringe Google’s guidelines. Black hat SEO is a way of tricking Google into awarding a web page a better ranking than it deserves. Google applies various and severe penalties to sites once it identifies use of Black hat techniques.



Existing as a conversion opportunity usually in the form of a contact form or download. It calls upon the user directly, inviting them to click.


Domain authority

This is a score calculated out of 100 used to estimate how well sites are likely to perform in search. Tools such as open site explorer consider a number of factors including the age and size of the site as well as its social footprint and inbound links.


Evergreen content

The term refers to editorial content that isn’t tied to specific events or points in time, meaning it has a longer ‘shelf-life’.



I guess you don’t need us to explain what Facebook is (if so, seek immediate help). Facebook is great social media platform which allows brands to get their message direct to their consumers. Good content is shared with other users and encourages engagement, in recent years a brand’s social media presence has become invaluable. We spend so much of our lives in this online world that if your brand doesn’t have a presence on this online world, then to the millennial generation -who are spending more time on their smart phones than they are sleeping- you do not exist.


Google search algorithm

The complex mathematical formula Google uses to determine where a web page should appear on its organic search results. It’s the code digital marketers live by, keeping track of recent updates and changes is vital to stay in the game and avoid penalties (check out our last post for our 2015 predictions). Google replaced its old algorithm back in October last year with Google Hummingbird.



HTML or hypertext mark-up language is the standard language used to write web pages.


Inbound marketing

Coined as a term in 2005 by CEO of Hubspot, Brian Halligan. Inbound marketing is a form of promotion in which content marketing is used to bring customers closer to the brand. So-called “inbound” as it is created in-house, content produced by the company, usually in the form of a blog, videos, newsletters and social media. Described by Online Marketing strategist, David Meerman Scott as “earning their way in”, saying that organically creating and distributing your own content was far more effective than “buying” coverage (see Outbound Marketing).



Link Juice is amount of positive ranking factors a link passes from one page to the next.



A relevant word or phrase prospective customers are likely to search for.


Link building

The various tactics and strategies used by website owners and marketers to gain links from third party sites. These links send direct traffic and (if they are “follow” links) will improve organic search ranking.


Meta description

A meta tag that describes the content of the web page. Google will use it to summarise the page when it appears in search results, but will not usually be visible to users.


No follow link

As Ad-Rank Director Chad Harwood-Jones puts it- it’s like wearing protection, stopping you from passing on your “link juice”. A “no follow” tag means that Google will use the link to discover and index the page but doesn’t use it as a ranking signal. Sites use “no follow” links to discourage spammers and negative SEO from targeting them. When you Tweet a link, for example, it is always “no follow”


Outbound marketing

Buying attention, so to speak. The reverse of inbound marketing. Outbound marketing is where brands employ external platforms to promote their services. TV and radio advertising, spam, cold-calling and traditional advertising methods are all forms of outbound marketing.


Page Rank

Named rather confusingly after Google co-founder Larry Page, Page Rank is the authority Google assigns to a particular web page. It uses a logarithmic scale, meaning it’s not simply a mark out of 10.



Really simple syndication is a popular way web pages can share their content. Site owners can use RSS to share their content on third party sites and social media without duplicating it.



Search Engine Optimisation, a term covering the tactics and strategies designed to improve the ranking of sites in organic search results.



If you don’t know what Twitter is, then as with Facebook, seek immediate assistance. Twitter is another valuable platform brands can utilise to get their content out to their subscribers as well as follow current trends through hashtags allowing them to produce relevant content.



Uniform Resource Locator. It’s that thing up there in the address bar. Basic stuff.


Brands used to pour resources into making 30 second videos for TV advertising, but now, faced with the fact that young consumers don’t watch TV anymore, brands are turning to social media as a vital platform for advertising. A vine is a short video designed to be consumed and shared quickly, in a few seconds it must engage the consumer and thus insight them to share it with others. If done well, good content can go viral (ooh another V word!).

White hat SEO

Essentially the opposite of black hat. These SEO tactics do not breach any of Google’s guidelines.



Extensible mark-up language is used to deliver content to websites.



Again, see note for Facebook and Twitter. YouTube is a video sharing platform allowing users to produce and share their video content with other users. Users follow and subscribe to channels who are putting out regular, quality content. It’s like the older brother of Vine. The trend for video content nowadays tends to steer towards either regular v-log (video blog) style content or short, bite-size content that is easily and quickly consumed on mobile devices.



You don’t want to bore your customers. No one is going to share content that is boring and unengaging, bad content will reflect badly on your brand. A user does not share bad or boring content as it reflects badly on them, and in this cruel online world, image is everything.

Useful resources:


The Content Marketing Institute

The Content Marketing Association (UK)