If you work in digital marketing in any capacity, you’ve probably heard the phrase ‘content is king’, but we feel it’s often misused.
‘Content is King’
In 1996, Bill Gates wrote an article that has gone on to be much-cited in the world of digital marketing on the importance of content in SEO. ‘Content is King’ was written while the internet as we know it was in its infancy, but there are a few points that very much ring true today.
This year marks 25 years since he published this article, and, of course, there have been some changes over that time. Content is still important – vital, in fact – if you want to grow your business online. However, too many individuals and businesses interpreted Gates’ words to mean that churning out content would earn you those high rankings regardless of quality.
In the early days of online content, simply posting lots of content might have been enough to earn you a place at the table. Since then, search engines have started to become wise to these tactics. Over the years, the algorithms used to rank web pages have become increasingly sophisticated, all in an ongoing attempt to separate the content wheat from the chaff.
In other words, search engine algorithms are becoming more human-like in their ability to understand what constitutes high-quality content and what doesn’t – and web pages are being ranked accordingly.
What Is Quality Content?
A common myth is that high-quality content is anything that strictly obeys SEO guidelines, but this isn’t true. Your SEO should inform your content, but the focus should always be on creating content for the people who will consume it.
Let me say that again – you should create content for your audience, not for search engines.
That’s not to say you should discount the search engines altogether – you still want to be found – but this should never come at the expense of the user experience.
If you’re putting fresh, unique and relevant content out there – that is to say, high-quality content – people are more likely to consume it, engage with it and share it. The right kind of people too. This, in turn, will increase your brand’s exposure, build up consumers’ trust in your business, and ultimately improve your search engine rankings. That’s the importance of content in SEO.
Well-researched, fresh, unique, relevant, actionable, sharable.
GRABS ATTENTION & ENCOURAGES ENGAGEMENT
Internet users take the time to read and comment on your content.
INCREASED BRAND EXPOSURE
Your content is exposed to a wider audience via web links, social media and word of mouth.
IMPROVED BRAND IMAGE & BETTER RANKINGS
Your brand is perceived as authoritative, helpful and reliable, both by potential customers and the search engines.
INCREASED CUSTOMER RETENTION
Because your content is useful, people will come back to you again with questions relating to your industry, and to benefit from related products/services.
Does SEO Even Matter Any More?
Of course, SEO still matters. Search engines still have to sort all the high-quality content on the internet somehow, and giving them signals that your content is user-friendly will help.
- Visit your website from the front end – is there anything that makes the experience difficult? For example, is your anchor text relevant with appropriate links?
- Make sure your posts have easy scannability – headings, subheadings and bullet points can help break up large chunks of text.
- Updating your blog regularly and consistently can help keep your posts ranking. The information will need refreshing, and it means you can optimise for the latest best SEO practices.
- It’s important not to overdo it on SEO optimisation. Things like keyword-stuffing used to be a great way to get your content to number one on the SERP, but now it’s an almost guaranteed way not to rank at all.
How to Create High-Quality Content
We’ve written before about how to create relevant content and how to write SEO-friendly content, but creating high-quality content for SEO typically boils down to two factors – knowing your audience and providing them with value.
Get to Know Your Audience
What is quality content if not targeted towards the right audience? If you’re not sure how to go about that, there are a few ways to get started:
- Create buyer personas and keep them up to date.
- Ask your customers what they need to know.
- Make a note of the questions you get asked frequently, and create content responses such as blog posts or video tutorials.
- Learn what kinds of questions your potential customers might be asking on industry-relevant forums.
- Reddit can be a great resource for this, as its subreddits (forums) can be very niche.
- Comment on the latest news and trends in your sector.
- Don’t forget to have a sneaky peek at what your competitors are doing!
- Work with others in your industry and in the media to create an honest backlink profile – this will encourage search engines to see you as more authoritative.
If you’re not sure where to start with great content ideation, check out our blog post on generating content ideas.
The third step on our flow chart is ‘increased brand exposure’, and that’s where your non-sales content comes in. Blog posts, social media, email marketing, outreach – these are the areas of content that you can start looking at to increase your brand exposure and provide your audience with value.
Cover the latest industry news, offer a fresh take on a relevant topic or provide solutions to your customers’ pain points. Branching out from strictly eCommerce-focused content will help you reach more people in the consideration and awareness stages of the buyer’s journey (when prospects are researching their pain points or challenges).
Unfortunately, nobody can predict what Google will do next, but we can take an educated guess. Google wants to provide the best answers to any query in a fraction of a second and, to do that, they need content that provides value to searchers. Over-optimised content written as a ploy for easy rankings is unlikely to do that, so it won’t rank as well.
Search engines know what short-cutters and black-hatters look like these days. The importance of content in SEO has never been more obvious, and low-quality content will do your site more harm than good.
At Zelst, we pride ourselves on our high-quality content and SEO optimisation. If you’re interested in improving your business’s online rankings and organic traffic, please get in touch with us today.