Yes, we get it. Content agencies are shouting about content from the rooftops. Marketers are jumping up and down about everything from blogging to Instagram. But really, what’s the big deal? Can’t you just make sure you’re good at what you do, offer a great service or product, and stop getting distracted by all the fuss about Google algorithm changes and content marketing spin? The short answer is no. So before you get frustrated that you have to spend your precious time and resources on content (whether it’s in-house or engaging the services of a Content Marketing agency) here are a few reasons why (good) content matters:
1. The Google gods
Whether we like it or not, Google is an all-powerful, all-seeing, omniscient and omnipresent being. Don’t mess with it! If Google says jump, you jump. While back-linking and keyword stuffing used to be the key to successful SEO, algorithm changes mean that what once boosted your rankings will now penalise you. In 2014, the key to a successful SEO strategy is to provide regular, helpful content to build your audience. The benefit of using a content marketing agency is that they will be up to date with any changes that Google has made. To get seen, you have to invest in content. If you’re investing in content, you want to make sure that it’s working for you, not against you. You can always check in with Google’s Webmaster Guidelines if you want to see if your content ticks all the boxes.
If anyone knows Google, it’s Matt Cutts, Head of Webspam at Google. So what does he have to say? “The overriding goal is to make sure that you’ve got high quality content. The sort of content that people really enjoy, that’s compelling…that you might see in a magazine or in a book…That remains the goal of our entire indexing system.” And if that’s Google’s goal, it’s pretty clear what your goal should be!
2. Nothing stays the same
So you whip up a content strategy, decide to implement it, pat yourself on the back and then want to concentrate on the important parts of your business (like, your actual business!). After all, you’re in the business of selling stuff / providing a service (whatever it is you do) and really that’s what you need to focus on. True. But…the issue with content is that it’s constantly changing. The problem with any ‘perfect’ strategy with content is that it usually turns on you. Fast. There’s a clear pattern when it comes to SEO. An authentic way to boost page-rank starts out innocently enough. People in the content space flog it. What was once a genuine way to engage an audience and draw attention to your brand becomes a spammy, illegitimate tool that’s manipulated by many. Google makes changes to fight spam, and what was once a good content strategy will now be your downfall. For example, guest blogging used to be the perfect way to gain links to your site. 2014 marks its downfall.
It’s an ever-changing minefield and it’s not for the faint-hearted!
3. Content is a science
When content writers call themselves ‘specialists’ they’re not just being wanky. Ok, some are. But the truth is, there’s a science behind content. There is a sweet-spot when it comes to:
1. The word length of a blog post
2. The ideal character length of a tweet
3. The number of times to post to social media per day / week / month
The trouble is, there no hard and fast rule. 250 words used to be the magic number when it came to blog posts. Now 1,500 words is the magic number being thrown around. But the truth is, while longer posts may be more beneficial to your site, the key is to write for your audience. It’s vital to know your business, know what will capture your readers, know what will help convert your browsers to buyers and understand the delicate relationship between original content, SEO, branding and engagement.
It is a specialist area, which is why content agencies are kept so busy and why specific roles are being created in-house for content writers and managers.
4. It works
If you don’t use content at all, you will suffer for it. Take the example of product descriptions. If you use manufacturer product descriptions, not only will you not rank well, but you could even be penalised for duplicate content. This doesn’t even touch on the fact that using generic product descriptions does little to help with informing your customer about a product or helping with conversions. Simply put, original content is a necessity. And it works.
Following on from this is the concept that SEO can be measured. ROI can be tracked. You want proof that it works? You can compare time on page, page views, downloads, conversions, likes, shares, retweets, lead generation and more. Link content marketing metrics and KPIs to your individual business goals. No one is telling you to blindly implement a content strategy and hope for the best. A 2014 Report by The Content Marketing Institute found that the website conversion rate is nearly 6 times higher for content marketing adopters than non-adopters.
5. Content may not be what you think it is
Wait, what? When you think of content, you may think of blogs and product descriptions. But do you think of your URLs? And page titles? And meta descriptions? And image alt-tags? And heading tags? And anchor text? Content is everywhere, and it is not all created equal. Some content carries more weight than other content. The way some content is written matters more than the way other content is written. The length of some content is important, while the length of other content is irrelevant.
So yes, content matters for all the of the reasons listed above. Whether the focus for your business is SEO, conversions, reach, engagement or branding, content is crucial.
Contact us to find out how you can make sure your content is working for your business.