Blogging and content marketing is becoming increasingly more important to businesses as a key method to improve their search engine rankings.
Why is content marketing becoming so important? Because it’s highly effective.
In fact, 72% of marketers have found that content marketing has increased the number of leads coming to their website.
You’ll often hear marketers use the phrase; ‘content is king.’ And they’re right, mostly.
But what they don’t share is the number of websites who are regularly pumping out content which has no impact on their website’s success.
Too many businesses have been falling into the trap of quantity over quality. The mindset of; ‘if I have lots of web pages with subpar content, flooded with keywords, then Google will rank me high for those search queries.’
Today, the marketing landscape is much more complex than that. It’s no longer about simply pumping out content, but the quality of that content, which will determine its effectiveness.
In this article, we’re going to take a look at what quality content is, why it has come to be the most important ranking factor of all, and what you can do to ensure everything you publish is consistently effective in driving results for your brand.
First, a Short History on Search
Back when search engines first came to surface, search engine optimisation (SEO) used to be a game of shortcuts and illegal ‘black hat’ marketing methods.
SEO ‘experts’ would use every trick in the book to game the system, doing whatever they could to inflate their rankings and avoid Google’s penalties.
Sadly, this would mean that internet browsers would often stumble upon websites that ranked highly but contained lots of spam content and links – nothing of use or relevant to their search query.
However, search engines such as Google soon caught onto this, and overhauled their core algorithm to include complex components which can now identify actual web content from the deceiving ones.
Google updates their algorithms every few months too. Every day that goes by means that the dependence on content marketing is only ever going to increase.
Therefore, to be successful with your SEO today, you need to have quality, engaging and relevant content, which is perfectly aligned to what your customers would want to read.
It’s no longer about trying to place as many keywords as possible on your website. In fact, when Google first rolled out their update, they sent a clear signal to marketers everywhere:
- Make pages primarily for users, not for search engines
- Don’t deceive your users
- Avoid tricks intended to improve search engine rankings. A good rule of thumb is whether you’d feel comfortable explaining what you’ve done to a website that competes with you. Another useful test is to ask, “Does this help my users? Would I do this if search engines didn’t exist?”
- Think about what makes your website unique, valuable, or engaging. Make your website stand out from others in your field
SEO is no longer a bag of parlour tricks that you can pull every time to rank in position one. If you want your website to rank highly, it’s going to be mean optimising it with quality content and an easy-to-navigate design.
High-Quality Content: What’s All the Fuss About?
For marketers, the shift in focusing from keywords to quality content is a significant game changer.
SEO agencies are increasingly becoming content marketing dependent to achieve their targets too.
Google’s core purpose centres on answering people’s questions with the best-matched content. They want to do it as quickly and effortlessly as possible, integrating with the way people now use technology.
Therefore, every algorithm update they release is designed to make the search engine more intelligent. Which makes it easier for Google to understand more about the searcher and their intent.
This means that for brands, there are now a number of ranking factors which can influence your rankings. They include the content which is on your website, as well as off-page factors, such as the backlinks pointing back to your site.
What Does This Mean For SEO Marketers?
If Google cares about content, then we care about content. It is as simple as that.
Businesses rise and fall based on the performance of their Google rankings. Our sales are completely dependent on playing the game google has set for us.
This is why quality content is your best strategy to rank high on search engines.
Not only will it increase the number of users wanting to visit and engage with your website, helping to drive more conversions.
But the better your content is, the higher you will rank, the more Google will naturally want to send traffic your way.
After all, you are doing exactly what Google wants you to do, you are creating and churning out quality content.
What is Quality Content?
Content refers to all blog posts, videos, or infographics, and other forms of media which you share about your business. On both your own website and shared via social media channels such as YouTube or Facebook.
This content is then fed to search engines, which is then read (crawled). Before being presented to the internet users who are interested in seeing it.
Therefore, quality content is anything that Google deems worthy of giving to the users.
It’s content that people want to consume. Perhaps because it educates, entertains, teaches them how to do something, or informs them where something is.
This is the information that answers people’s questions. It’s what they talk about in their own blog posts or around the office water cooler.
It’s the stories you share with friends or share on social media because the content connects with you.
When you consistently create quality content, you’ll be rewarded with more traffic to your website, a higher rank on Google, and improved online sales.
1. Quality is Subjective
Determining the quality of your content can be pretty hard to do. Quality isn’t a measurable, objective result. There’s no set formula, or an exemplary model.
Is it a long read or a short paragraph? Does it need to be humorous? Or should it be in a formal or more serious tone?
Maybe it’s all of the above. Or none at all.
Defining quality is down to you as a brand.
As you develop your marketing strategy, you’ll want to define what quality means for your brand.
For example, let’s say you’re an independent garden centre with an online shop. You may think sharing ‘how-to’ guides on caring for plants constitutes as quality content.
Or, creating blogs outlining which seeds and plants are currently in-season. This is so that your customers can make informed purchases inferred from quality content for your website.
It’s all about getting a real understanding of who your audience are and what content they want to consume. And then, delivering this content in the most accessible and engaging way as possible.
2. Quality Implies Trust
Trust is the reason why Google displays your page in a search result if it is deemed useful.
Search engines are effectively vouching for your site, recommending your content to the internet users who they think would benefit from consuming it.
So, while you’re creating a bank of quality content for your website, it’s important to put your energy into building trust with your audience. That doesn’t just mean creating well-researched content that’s rich with detail. You also need a website design, which is easy to navigate and clearly shows off your branding.
3. Quality Content May Appear to Conflict with Your Profit Goals
Content marketing isn’t always about selling or pushing your products or service. That is, you can’t consistently rely on it for promotional purposes.
Content marketing is about using valuable content to forge connections with your audience. Then, encouraging them to return to your site in the future when they’re looking to make a purchase.
Since content doesn’t generate sales directly, most businesses try to disregard the importance of content marketing, as they don’t want to pay for writers to produce content that isn’t related to sales.
This fact can make it really difficult to convince senior management that content marketing is a logical route for the business to head in.
But, with year-on-year site traffic growing 7.8x higher for content marketing leaders to their non-content competitors, it has the ability to significantly increase the numbers of traffic coming to your website.
And, an increase in site traffic, tends to come with a larger influx of users looking to make a purchase. In fact, conversion rates sit at nearly 6 times higher for those who use content marketing as opposed to those who don’t (2.9% vs 0.5%).
So, although your content marketing strategy may not drive any instant sales, developing and implementing a comprehensive content marketing strategy can have a great impact on your business in the long run.
4. Quality Content Requires A Bigger Investment
There’s no way around it – good quality content is going to cost more money for your business. But it can have the power to drive an even bigger revenue.
To get quality content, you need to invest in writers, artists and even programmers. And you don’t want to get the cheapest on the market, or you could end up with poor quality results. Which could mean you end up spending even more time or money trying to fix things.
This means that your company might need to completely pivot towards this new landscape that may be difficult to relate to. Telling someone that they need to hire a team of people for which the benefit might not arrive for months and years is a hard sell.
The good news is, even though you will need an arsenal of talent, content marketing is still considered 62% cheaper than outbound marketing, but with the ability to generate three times as many leads.
Yes, you may need to splash out on a couple of new recruits for your team, or even use a marketing agency to help with content production. But content marketing is often a lot cheaper than other forms of advertising campaigns.
If you don’t have a huge marketing budget, then content marketing is a cost-effective strategy. However, your key challenge will be working out the best way to achieve it considering your overheads.
5. Quality Content Should Be Unique
To stand out from the crowd – and avoid risk of plagiarism – ensure that any content you produce is unique from your competitors.
This takes a certain level of confidence. You need to be willing to step out of your comfort zone. And most importantly, offer good reason for users to want to engage with your content.
The best way to make sure your content is unique is to always inject your brand’s voice or personality into everything you do. Whether it’s your brand’s style guide on an infographic, or adding some humour into your blog posts. You always want to make sure it best reflects you.
This can mean going against popular opinions or exposing details about your personal life. Whatever it is, find the angle or story which works for your brand that is unique and relatable to your audience.
Prepare to Be Patient
As with anything in SEO, it takes time to build a reputation as the authoritative resource for your niche. Especially, if you are starting from scratch.
This means you’ll have to sink a significant amount of time or money in the beginning (dependent on your capacity).
There isn’t any quick-sure way to tell if your content is working. So, you’ll have to keep working at content marketing until you find a formula which works well for your brand.
For this reason, you’ll need to have a clearly thought out content strategy that defines ‘quality’ for your target audience, what content will best address their search queries, and your expected achievements.
You can then get started and then gradually improve and change as you learn what really works.
How to Consistently Create Valuable Content
1. Know Your Audience
This is one of the golden rules of marketing, and it’s no different with content.
All the blog posts, infographics, articles and other content on your site aren’t simply flyers for your company. They are the outreach tools that attract and connect you with your prospective audience.
Before you start thinking about what content to put out, your first task should be getting to know your audience.
You need to know what excites them. What questions are they asking Google? Do you know what keeps them up at night? The goals they want to achieve? And anything else which may add value to your business plan.
As far as Google is concerned, quality content equates to content that answers your readers’ questions. So always satisfy their intent and answer their questions.
2. Speak Your Audience’s Language
Because we are now relying less on keywords, instead of thinking about what search terms people are using, start a conversation with them.
You can visit forums where people ask questions; talk to them on Facebook or Twitter. Go through the comments on your blog, or even the blogs of your industry competitors.
What sorts of words are they using to talk about your brand or your niche? What sorts of topics do they take interest in? These are the words and topics you need to utilise when producing content.
And by doing so, you are in fact optimising your content.
3. Avoid Sales Talk
As I mentioned earlier, use your blogs and other content to answer questions and generate interest in your products or service, all without doing the sales pitch.
Instead, include links to your sales pages at the bottom of your content in case any readers choose to learn more. Or even want to start engaging with your business.
Good quality content forges relationships with your audience. Your primary objective is to establish trust and credibility, not to just to sell.
Once you’ve established this relationship and earned their loyalty, they’ll think of you when they are ready to buy.
4. Create Content for Every Stage of the User Journey
Write down every single question your customers could ask at every step of their journey to purchasing a product or service through you.
What are they searching for, what are they looking for, what would be really helpful to them?
Chances are these are the same search terms that they’re typing into Google, so create content that targets those queries.
But you shouldn’t just stop there. You should always try to offer as much value as possible, so produce additional content which offers useful, actionable information. This will keep your brand relevant and competitive. Plus, you’ll continually sit at the top of your prospects’ minds when thinking about your niche.
5. Publish Content on a Regular Basis
There are a whole range of benefits that come with regularly posting content.
Consistency builds trust. It demonstrates your reliability because your audience knows when to expect new content from you.
In addition to this, as you produce more content, you’ll be ranking for more search queries on Google. Even if some of these search queries have a low search volume, you’ll be increasing your website’s overall rankings. And ultimately, this will help strengthen your domain authority.
So, as part of your content strategy, make sure you’re setting a schedule which you can easily follow, allowing yourself enough time to produce and review your content.
6. Go Above and Beyond
To create high-quality content, not only do you have to be different, but you also have to be better.
The content that you’re putting out needs to be superior to your competitors. So, you need to step up your game if you want to have the highest quality content online.
This is where conducting a competition analysis can help. By knowing what your direct competitors are publishing, you can take advantage of gaps in their content. You can also start thinking creatively, finding new spins on topics which offer a fresh perspective.
Quality Takes Time, But It’s Worth It
Google is constantly improving its algorithm and changing their rules and policies for marketers.
While this can cause a few headaches for marketers, it’s good news for internet users. As they can get greater satisfaction from using these search engines.
Fortunately, as a brand, these complex new algorithms can have a high pay-off if you are doing the right activities. But it will take time to nail your content marketing.
Producing high-quality content can have a whole host of benefits. These include:
- Building trust amongst your buyers
- Positioning yourself as an expert
- Increasing your site traffic
- And ultimately, driving more conversions in the long-term
Creating a systematic approach with a clearly defined and actionable content marketing plan is crucial. It can help you to find out what your audiences are searching for, and how you can address their queries.
If you’re consistently posting unique, quality, and detailed information, you’ll soon reap the rewards of an increased following of prospective customers who will turn to you when looking to make a purchase.
Developing a Content Marketing Strategy with a Marketing Consultant
With Google’s complex algorithms and updates, the world of content marketing can seem a little complex and overwhelming. But it doesn’t have to be.
Creating a clear and actionable content marketing strategy will ensure you’re making content that’s fresh, relevant and directly answers what your customers are looking for.
As a small or new business, it may be hard to dedicate the amount of time needed to make your strategy a success. And so, you may want to consider hiring a marketing consultant to develop your content marketing strategy.
We’ve worked on hundreds of brand’s content marketing strategies. So, my team and I know what it takes to get to the top of Google. Working strictly to your brand’s goals and budget, we can help to create and implement a robust content marketing strategy.
If you want to start driving more traffic to your site, then why not contact us to get started? I’d be happy to have an obligation-free chat. As well as offer more information on what we do, and showcase some of our previous work.