Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Marketing Strategies for Content-Based Websites vs. Application-Based Websites

by Eric Rowell

Why is it so easy for content-based websites to generate traffic while it seems impossibly hard for application-based websites to get even a few visitors? The purpose of this post is to explore the nature of the web and how to formulate a marketing strategy for your website depending on its classification.

What is a content-based website?

A content-based website is a site that produces high volumes of quality content. Some of the best well known examples of content-based websites are blogs, forums, and news sites.

What is an application-based website?

An application-based website is a site that provides a usable service. Some good examples of this type of website are Facebook, Amazon, and Twitter.

How do search engines fit in with both website types?

If you've ever created a website that does something, and you've also created a blog, then you've experienced firsthand why content is so powerful. For those of you who haven't, let me explain. If you create a website that does something, like an online application that helps you map out a jogging route somewhere in your neighborhood, then you'll quickly realize that it's impossibly hard to get the word out about your new service. If on the other hand you create a simple blog, you'll be amazed at how much traffic you start getting after just a few posts. What's going on here?

This phenomenon can be explained if you understand the nature of the web. There are two kinds of websites: websites that do something (application-based), and websites that provide content (content-based). In terms of searching the internet, it's relatively simple to quantify the usefulness of a particular content-based website by counting its number of inbound links. Generally speaking, websites that provide content will link to other websites that provide additional relevant information. As a result, you can measure the usefulness of a website by comparing its number of inbound links to other websites. As simple as it sounds, this is the basis for search engine algorithms today.

Unfortunately, it's not as easy to quantify the usefulness of a website that does something other than generate content. This is why blogs can get a lot of traffic immediately after its launch while other types of websites can struggle to get even a handful of visitors.

Content-based vs. Application-based

When using a search engine to find information, you probably traverse dozens of websites by reading content and clicking on related links. This is how content-based websites are generally found. On the other hand, do you remember how you found out about Facebook, Amazon, or Twitter? It probably wasn't from a search engine. This is because application-based websites have a harder time leveraging search engines and usually have to rely on other mechanisms to drive traffic to their services.

Marketing strategies for each classification

Due to the different natures of each website type, it's important to understand how online marketing will play a role for each classification. If you have a content-based website, you definitely need to spend a lot of time on SEO and social media marketing. If on the other hand you have an application-based website, you need to spend a lot of your time working on viral marketing and paid advertising campaigns.

Good luck!

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