July 27, 2016

What is Content Saturation Index and How Does It Affect Me?

image of a laptop with content graphic

As a marketing professional, you understand the concept of “market saturation.” Once there is a certain number of widgets in the marketplace (regardless of the number of sellers), the market is saturated. The only way to sell more is to come up with a new and improved widget.

As a digital marketer, or a content writer for a digital marketer, you need to be aware of the concept of “content saturation” and the content saturation index (CSI) on the web.

In this article, I will define the content saturation index and consider what you need to know about it if you are a marketer relying on your website’s blog to rise to the top of your niche.


What is The Content Saturation Index?


Your need for a content marketing program is a given. Whether banner ads, paid search, or organic search, your keywords have to lead users – your potential customers – back to content that is informative and directly relevant to their needs.

The CSI, a relatively new concept, revolves around the fact that the more that is already published about a topic, the harder it is for anything new about it to be noticed.

At some point, theoretically, the CSI is so high that your blog can’t break through, and you should find another topic. (Or as “Content Shock” theorist Mark Schaefer says, be ready to invest a lot in advertising. I don’t agree with Shaefer, but I do support the marketplace of ideas. It promotes development of content, after all. CSI originator Marcus Sheridan rebuts Content Shock here.)


In one iteration of the CSI by Christopher Penn that is based on Google search results:


  • If a keyword returns fewer than 10,000 search result pages (SERPs), there’s room for you in the market.
  • If a keyword returns 10,000 to 100,000 results, the market is tight, but there’s still room for high quality content.
  • If a keyword returns 100,000 to 1 million search results, that presents a significant problem requiring high quality content and, according to Schaefer, a significant investment.
  • If a keyword returns more than 1 million pages of content, that’s a saturated market. You’ll need content so extraordinary that it becomes a sought-after product itself.


Where Do You Fall in the Content Saturation Index?


You can easily check out how many results your industry’s keywords turn up in a Google search, and judge what the market for your content looks like. But unless you find full saturation at every turn, you should expect to be working on producing content.

The way to break through in a crowded market is to write something that is extraordinary in quality, or in viewpoint (read “controversial”). A third approach is to be a celebrity, which is probably not in the cards for you. Sorry.

Controversy, while not always a great sales tool, does offer a path if it’s done right. But there’s a fine line between an interesting, engaging voice and being annoying or just plain lame. The spotlight becomes suddenly cold if another blogger can take your post and dismantle it point by point. Always know what you’re saying and why it’s true.

That leaves us with producing some great, eye-catching content.


Get Started Writing!


This article isn’t so much about how to develop a content marketing program, as it is an attempt to remind you of the necessity of strategic content marketing. If content marketing wasn’t important, the concept of a CSI would probably never have arisen!

The Next Steps Digital Master Class Series explores content marketing more deeply as part of a three-hour session called “Keeping Up with Google’s Constant Change.” Google has made quality content a top factor in ranking search results. Sign up for our series (all at one price) to learn how to make all facets of your site’s content and marketing campaigns stand out for Google’s search engine.