A comprehensive plan for a strong web presence, part 1 - Best Practices: Content Marketing



This is one in a series of posts on best practices in all aspects of building and maintaining a strong online presence. See also: Email Marketing; Social Media Marketing; SEO (Coming soon.... Web Design.)


The phrase “content is king” has been used and abused so much since Bill Gates wrote it back in 1996 that you might think it’s just an outdated cliché. Not quite. He was referring to traditional media entities like newspapers, but the sentiment is just as relevant today, when everyone is or can be a publisher.


For businesses, content is a soft sell, building your brand’s reputation so that customers trust you when they’re ready to buy. And that’s sort of how it works with Google, too. Anyone can load up their copy with keywords, so Google pays attention to the responses your content generates, through comments, links and social media shares.


Number 3 from Forbes’ list of “7 Things You Believe About SEO That Are Not True”: “Google loves content: You may have heard people tell you ‘Google loves content, the more content the better!’ Google does not love content, Google loves high-quality content. Writing a small amount of high-quality content that provides real value to readers and therefore gets shared on social media and linked to by other websites is much better than generating a lot of poor content nobody will care about.”


Sharing is huge. Like people, Google (and increasingly, Facebook) view sharing as an endorsement from a real, discerning human and will reward the page with a higher rank in relevant searches. People generally don’t share advertisements, but they will share information that is useful or entertaining. So the first steps toward creating strong content are determining who you’re trying to reach, and figuring out what you can offer them. For example, a lawyer might blog about common legal questions. A tech company can send email alerts and post on social media about new security threats and software patches. The key is that your writing is clear, concise and compelling, and that the information is worth reading and passing along.


If you’ve been publishing syndicated (non-original) content to fill out your site, you might want to stop — it might be doing more harm than good: “Google will no longer tolerate websites that publish other peoples’ content without adding value or that publish lots of ‘thin content’ for purposes of SEO enhancement.”


“Create content for your audience first, not search engines,” advises Scripted in a white paper (PDF) on content and Google. “What kind of content is most useful to them? What questions can you answer with authority? Create content that no one else can create because you have the background and expertise to do. When it comes to search rankings, if you focus on your audience first, they will reward you with links, shares, and higher search rankings.”

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