At the risk of sounding like a broken record, I want to again stress the importance of quality content creation, especially with regard to SEO and search marketing in general. With every algorithm update that Google issues, the movement towards ‘natural’ SEO that is truly user intuitive inches a little closer. Every Panda, Penguin, and RankBrain update that brings us deeper into conversational search is changing the fundamental way that organic search is conducted, displayed, and optimized. Gone now are the days of keyword stuffing, and gone even are the days of link-building (as we know it). More and more, the quality of your content is what drives your success online. The prevalence of social media gives you the soapbox upon which to spread and share your creations, and as a result of this fact, Google now uses that soapbox, and the response you garner, to determine whether or not your content is useful to people. Because at the end of the day, the goal of Search Engine Optimization is to serve the most relevant and useful results possible to the user. As Google gets smarter, that goal gets closer and closer.
Why is Content Creation Difficult?
Unlike link-building, or metadata tagging, or even character counting and URL structuring, Content Creation is not an exact science. There is no exact formula, and as a result it requires both an understanding of the goal, and ultimately more work to create natural, high quality content. ‘On target’ keywords don’t matter, stop thinking about relevant search terms, and start thinking about what your audience wants to read. At the end of the day, all that matters are real engagements, from real people. All other numbers be damned.
Three Helpful Pointers by Andrew Hutchinson
- Quality content is what your clients want to read, not what you want to tell them.You can’t just load up your company website with a heap of updates on what the company’s doing, how you’re helping clients, etc. These are all sales pitches and, in the majority, these won’t be widely read. You’re caught up in the corporate culture and the internal wins and losses, so the temptation is to write about them, show the people how good the company is, sell them on that culture that you, yourself are invested in, but you need to take a step back and think about what the clients want to know. What are the articles you’re reading each day? What is of interest to you, as an industry expert? What are the things clients need your services for? If you are not an industry expert, not following all the relevant influencers in your field, then you need to be and you need to be viewing their insights from the client’s point of view. Inform clients of industry trends and updates, write about positive stories in which your brand has had an influence, but always be wary of the sales angle. Social media is about building relationships, rather than booking sales. The more you’re able to establish the first, the easier the second will become.
- Content that gets highly shared is content with heart. Real stories, real storytelling, actually getting to the humanity of something, rather than corporate messaging. All businesses affect the lives of real people, many in very positive ways, and these stories are gold. They are not only great to tell, but they show the genuine passion of your brand. If you can express that passion in an engaging way, you can create strong, shareable stories that will help expand the reach of your business, which has benefits across all aspects. Take time to think about different angles to your corporate stories, try and find the heart and humanity in what you do as a company and where your brand is able to help. And again, make it story first, corporate messaging second. You don’t need to sell to your clients straight up, you’re working to establish a connection, to communicate on a deeper level.
- Take time to engage in your online community. It’s one thing to use Twitter to respond to client concerns and queries, but you shouldn’t stop there. Look to have a presence on all social media platforms and in their respective communities where your target audience is active. You’ll sometimes see a company representative drop into a conversation on Twitter or Facebook with no real introduction, saying ‘give me a call at *** and we can help you out’. This is not real engagement. You’re likely to build better customer relationships if you talk to people on a human level, offer advice and links to online articles (not necessarily your own company content) and show them that you’re the expert in your field. The opportunity to convert these contacts into clients will come, you don’t need to rush it. By being present and being a trusted part of the conversation, you will establish better relationships for ongoing business. And be honest and positive, at all times. Going online and trashing your opposition, using a half-truth to initiate a business conversation — these tactics do not benefit the establishment of ongoing partnerships.