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Pleading the case for bread and butter content at Brighton SEO

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I’m lucky enough to be speaking at Brighton SEO today – I’ve been going along as an audience member  for a few years now, so it’s really exciting to be speaking in the first-ever content track. (and also slightly nerve-wracking – earlier in the week I dreamt that I delivered the whole talk in the style of Jesse Pinkman from Breaking Bad, yo.)

I’ll be speaking about bread and butter content, and why I think it’s where we should be focusing our attention and our budgets, over and above viral content.

By bread and butter, I mean static or evergreen content; the stuff that answers questions like who, what, where, when, why, how much, and helps users to accomplish the task they came to your website with in mind. Affordable, practical and sustaining – it should be the staple in your content diet.

If the content I’m talking about is bread and butter, then I think viral content is jelly beans: it’s tasty and gives you a sugar rush, but not healthy in the long-term. But despite this, I think bread and butter content is sometimes pushed to the edge of the plate at the moment, in favour of the more colourful and exciting project of trying to ‘go viral’.

The problem is that creating content that goes viral is really difficult for some brands, because their product or service just doesn’t lend itself to the right  kind of subject matter. (I’m thinking of my own background in utilities and personal finance here in particular.)

Think about why people share things: it’s to back up the idealised version of themselves that they’ve created online. The action of sharing is about winning respect and recognition with the reassuring approval of a like or a retweet.  People share things that make them look cool, funny, on the cutting edge. For some business areas, content about your product just doesn’t fit that brief, so you have to go further and further away from what you do to go viral.

If you’re spending thousands of pounds on making videos of cat in costumes that have little to do with your product or service, but your website doesn’t have good content to describe what you do, or you have really unhelpful copy going through your sales funnel, or your customers can’t find what they need on your site, then I think you’re missing out on bigger wins.

The beauty of bread and butter content is that there’s no restrictions – it’s something everyone has the potential to do brilliantly, and actually, it’s something I think we all have an obligation to do brilliantly; an obligation to our customers, clients, employers and colleagues.

Get it right, and bread and butter will bring you the three things you probably want most from your content:

1) Traffic – perhaps not the dizzying high you get from something that goes viral (which will disappear just as fast), but steady, consistent traffic throughout the year, because it should be content that’s always valuable and always relevant.

2) Revenue – you’re probably going to have to veer so far away from your core product area to capture attention in the kind of volume you need to go viral that you probably won’t make many or any sales or leads. By comparison, bread and butter content should always be geared towards generating sales, either by doing a beautiful job of telling customers about your product, or by encouraging them to use more of it.

3) Advocacy - bread and butter content should be thoughtful and it should help users with a problem or need. They might not like or share it, but if you help them solve a problem, find an answer to a question and give them a really effortless, straightforward and enjoyable experience, they’ll remember it. They’ll come back again, and they’ll probably recommend you in the future too. Returning custom and advocacy are such valuable actions, compared to which a like or a share seem fairly insignificant.

My slides are below if you’d like a look, and if you’ve got any questions, ask away.