Content marketing has grown in popularity over the past 10 years or so as users and Google updates have demanded more quality content, and as more business owners have caught on to the cost-effectiveness of the strategy. Certainly, thousands of businesses have successfully profited from a content strategy, from major publishing companies reaching hundreds of thousands of people every day to local businesses who have increased foot traffic due to a wider brand presence.
But some SEO experts have suggested that we are reaching a tipping point in the landscape of content marketing; because so many people are engaging in the strategy, the overall value of content marketing is actively decreasing with each passing day. Consider it a type of inflation, similar to inflation as it relates to currency. If you suddenly print $10,000,000,000 of extra cash and begin to circulate it, the overall value of each individual dollar will go down. Similarly, if users have access to 10,000 articles rather than 100, the value of each article goes down.
This would theoretically function as a loss in value to the consumer as well as a loss in value to the marketer, as they are tied together in a mutually dependent relationship. For the user who sees 100 articles on how to tie a tie properly, 99 are immediately considered redundant, and the “average” value of an article immediately drops (even though that one standout article retains the same value as if it were the only article—I’ll touch on this later). For the marketer who writes an article on how to tie a tie, the likelihood of someone reading your article in this pool of 100 is only 1 percent, compared to if there were only 10 articles, at which point the probability would be 10 percent.
Ignoring variables like the quality of an article and how well it was promoted, an article’s value would therefore be tied to its level of originality, and the more articles there are in circulation, the lower that value becomes. So exactly how saturated is the market these days?
Actually, it’s misleading to talk about “oversaturation” as one blanket term for all forms of content. It’s easier to conceptualize and more accurate to illustrate saturation as it relates to general content and niche content. While there is no stark divide between the two, isolating them as separate constructs makes the explanation easier to convey.
General topics include things that have been around for a while, haven’t changed much recently, and apply to a wide audience. Recall the example above, covering how to tie a tie. Ties have been around for decades, the process to tie them hasn’t changed much, and a large section of the population can benefit from the information. While it might be appealing to write for a larger audience, the fact is, because it’s a more popular, more familiar topic, more people are going to be writing for it.
Today’s “general content” market is extremely oversaturated. Every basic topic you can think of, from literature summaries to general career advice, has been covered so thoroughly that the value of each new article written on the topic is practically negligible. As if the level of competition wasn’t enough, consider also the fact that Google’s Knowledge Graph is steadily evolving the capacity to immediately offer information on such general topics. It simply isn’t worth pursuing as a content strategy.
Niche markets, however, are far less stymied by competition. Picture them as countless small branches extending from a massive trunk. They aren’t as immediately visible and accessible as their general counterparts, and they’ll reach a smaller audience, but there’s a shortage of writers and companies writing this type of material. Dividing your content into tighter and more specific niches is an almost infinite process—you can make your material more specific to a target audience, more specific to a particular mechanic, more specific to an area, or along any number of other dimensions.
Take, for example, an extremely general topic: “How to Be Successful.” This could mean a lot of things to a lot of people, and you could write a thorough and great article on this topic, but it isn’t going to reach anybody because of the sheer volume of competition out there. Instead, it’s in your best interest to make it more specific—iteratively, if necessary. Consider this evolutionary process: “How to Be Successful” becomes “How to Be Successful in Business” becomes “How to Be Successful in Small Business” becomes “How to Start a Small Business Successfully” becomes “How to Start a Small Business Successfully in Dallas” and extending even further as you see fit. Each new concept, or new dimension, makes the article more specific, and therefore, more valuable.
In the title of this article, I propose the question: is the content marketing world too saturated? The answer is double sided. In the area of “general” content, yes, content marketing is too saturated for any inexperienced contender to make an impression or derive value from new material. But in the area of niche-focused, more specific content, there is always room for development. There are always ways to make your content more specific, and the more specific you make your content, the more valuable it’s going to be. Do your research and carve a niche for yourself that no one else has taken—despite what it seems on the surface, there are plenty of niches to go around.
Want more information on content marketing? Head over to our comprehensive guide on content marketing here: The All-in-One Guide to Planning and Launching a Content Marketing Strategy.