The content on your website - words, graphics, videos, everything - tells the story of your business. It's likely the first contact you'll have with potential customers. It's a primary factor Google and other search engines use to determine how high to place you in the rankings. So it's important that the story you're telling is the story they need and want to hear.
Content is King
You've heard it at least once, probably dozens of times. Maybe you've even said it. It's become one of those phrases we bandy about in the online marketing and SEO world to mean any number of things. Most often, it's used to indicate that Google, more than anything else, looks at a site's content to determine rankings. And that's true with a major caveat we'll discuss in just a minute. But do you know where the phrase originally comes from? Bill Gates.
In January of 1996, Bill Gates wrote an essay titled "Content is King" that appeared on the Microsoft website. The gist of the essay was that the real money to be made on the internet was by content providers. This was a new medium that allowed anyone to become a publisher with little or no out-of-pocket money and have a global audience. And that global audience would pay the publishers for the ability to access the content. Bill closed his essay with the following statement.
Those who succeed will propel the Internet forward as a marketplace of ideas, experiences, and products - a marketplace of content.
Along Comes Google
Three months after Bill's essay, a research project of two Stanford University students began crawling the web. The project was nicknamed "BackRub" and was based on the premise that the more other authoritative sites linked to a given piece of content, the more weight it should be given in search results. That model changed the web search industry forever and this research project became google.com in the fall of 1997.
Through the years, Google's algorithms have changed and morphed. More emphasis has been placed on fresh content. Less emphasis has been placed on keyword stuffing (this actually hurts rankings). In order to stop internet marketers and programmers from gaming the system, Google is constantly modifying the way they rank web content.
That brings us back to the statement "Content is king." Is it true? Yes, but only if it is relevant content.I want great content! Help me create it.
Is My Content Relevant?
All content is not created equal. To determine whether the content on your site is relevant, there are a few questions you should ask.Does it answer customer questions?
Do you want to know what content to put on your site? Listen to your visitors. The questions they ask during the sales process or complaints they have are a perfect place to start. The questions that they're asking you are the same questions they type in the search engines.Does it add value?
Before you put content on your site, do a little research. See what others are saying online about your topic. Rehashing the same information in the same way won't set you apart. Be original. Come at a problem from a different angle or provide a more detailed solution.Is it engaging?
Your visitors don't want to be bored. Get to the point without being abrupt. Add a little humor where it's appropriate. Don't be afraid to be yourself. Your voice is one of the things that will make your content unique.Is it up-to-date?
Make sure the last entry on your site doesn't give the solution to a problem that no longer exists. The quickest way to lose a visitor is to give them yesterday's news.Is it necessary?
Don't fill your site with fluff content. This doesn't mean that everything you write will be Pulitzer-worthy. But the fact is, sometimes it's hard to tell what content is really going to strike a chord with your visitors. "Unchained Melody" was a B-side for The Righteous Brothers.Is it share-worthy?
Even though this is the concept that literally made Google the most used search engine on the planet, it's often the least considered. The ultimate decision makers when it comes to content relevance are the content consumers. If people find that your content ticks all these boxes, they'll share it. Other respected site publishers will cite it, often with backlinks to it. This type of social proof is hard to get and it's harder to ignore.
Is Creating Content Worth My Time?
You may not be receiving ad revenue or subscription fees as Bill Gates envisioned when he said "Content is King" back in 1996. But your content does affect your income. Poor Content = Poor Search Rankings = Fewer Customers = Poor Business Owner.
Creating great content isn't easy. It takes time and research. It also takes the patience and determintaion to keep doing it until you see the fruits of your labor.
If you're having trouble doing it yourself, hire someone to help. Just remember that no one knows your business like you do, so stay involved in the process. The rewards will come. Bill Gates said so.I want great content! Help me create it.