An image of the front page of The Furrow from the spring of 1897.

The world’s first known content marketing effort was a quarterly print magazine that was started by John Deere in 1895.

Here is an image of the front cover of the spring 1897 edition.

An image of the front page of The Furrow from the spring of 1897.

How did it work?

How it worked is really quite simple.

John Deere published the magazine and gave it to farmers for free by distributing it through farming supply stores.

When farmers came in to buy whatever, the latest edition of the magazine was on the counter for anyone to take.

The magazine contained articles that were of interest to farmers. Articles about developments in fertilizers, crop rotation, equipment maintenance, water conservation, etc.

Farmers kept the magazines as the articles were useful to them.

And the magazines were full of ads for John Deere products and services.

The magazine still exists, but today it’s a subfolder on the John Deer website.

Why does this matter?

Because to successfully attract visitors and convert some to leads and customers, THIS is what you need to do with your website.

I can’t tell you how many times I’ve seen people try to earn backlinks to home pages and landing pages.

Per Google, you do NOT want to do this. This blog post explains why, and what you DO want to do instead.

You do NOT want backlinks to your landing pages!

A very terse summary of that blog post is:

  • Turn your website into an online magazine.
  • Publish articles and posts that inform, educate, and entertain.
  • And on THOSE pages place “ads” for and to your landing pages. In this context an ad can be a big button with text, or could look like an actual ad.
  • Work to earn links to your articles and posts, not your landing pages.

By doing that, you will mimic what John Deere did with The Furrow long before computers, the Internet, or search engine optimization was even a thing.

In closing

This is not only a time-tested model that predates search engine optimization, but it is also what Google tells us they want.

And, as regards search engine optimization, they make the rules.

Much of your success with SEO is simply following the rules (or guidelines if you prefer) published by Google.

They’re not shy about telling us how to do this.

Need to boost your topical authority?

Kevin Carney
Kevin Carney

Kevin "fell into" SEO by accident, like many others. The SaaS platform to help writers boost their topical authority came years later after various SEOs said it was something they would like to see.

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