What is Content?
One of the key topics that pop up with industry types, affiliates and agencies from an SEO, Social Media and Online PR stance is content. Before I delve too deeply in to the subject matter, I think its important that I clarify what I mean by content. This isn’t the standard information about your company. It isn’t even about content around the products or services you offer, even though those areas are imperative. In the context of this post, I mean compelling content that people may want to read regardless of any affinity or lack of with your brand or their current interest in buying from you.
Why provide content?
Well it all depends what your objectives are. For some organisations additional non-sales related content may be impractical or unworkable. I can’t think of a single case where it won’t provide some form of benefit. It’s just whether the scale of the benefit is worth the investment.
In the main, the reasons for providing content can be varied depending on your circumstances. However you need to be clear of your objectives.
From my perspective the main reasons for providing content include:
Upside on SEO
Social Media SOV
Online PR outreach
Providing an authority to your subject matter
Create buzz around your site
Upside on SEO
As well all know there are many black hat techniques to help radically increase your rankings within all of the major search engines (and Google is no exception). However these techniques are ill-advised and can cause your organisation to be penalised or even delisted by the likes of Google and Bing.
So the best way to ensure improvement in search engine rankings is to create a good content plan. The content should be devised to make it both interesting and relevant to your audience, whilst also providing genuine reasons forbloggers or sites to link to or to like, retweet etc in social networks. Simple?
If your content strategy is devised purely for SEO reasons then you obviously need to know what terms people are searching on and where the gaps are in your keyword coverage. You then need to engineer your plan to help build up potential linking on core terms. The research is the critical element to this area, as you need to know how this element enhances or could potentially distract your overall SEO efforts.
My personal opinion, is that, if you develop content purely for SEO reasons, you are doing something wrong.
Tip 1 – You should provide worthwhile content that people want to read and get links on the merit of the content. There is no problem in optimising the content for SEO reasons, as long as it doesn’t damage the content for the reader.
Your content is like a currency,if quality is good and matched with its frequency. People will want to read what you produce and in term want to link to it and share with their friends.
Remember if your quality is poor or full of errors there is an equal likelihood that people will link or share your content but with negative container terms. This doesn’t impact your SOV, in fact,it does increase it. However it does effect the sentiment which effects both what your community or following think about you but also could impact your search rankings.
Tip 2– Provide simple methods to allow people to share your content. Options such as Add This buttons or utilise tools such as Facebook Connect on your site
Online PR Outreach
Bloggers are an influential bunch. But not all of them. Remember it isn’t always about the bloggers with massive audiences that matter. If you want reach and awareness then of course go for high-traffic blogs. It isn’t always the best target however. You need to create a robust outreach plan, as you would with journalists. Understand why and how you contact bloggers and take the time to build relationships with them.
Understanding why you are reaching out to a blogger and what benefit you can provide to them is half the battle. You also need to work out if your objective is reach or to inspire a change in people’s (not the bloggers) perception of your company and the content you produce.
Tip 3 – Personal relationships are important. Don’t just send SEO friendly Press Releases, it isn’t good for you or the blogger
Having a forum and a Facebook presence won’t give you a community. The only reason you will create a community is by providing your members with currency, a reason to keep coming back. Whether that is in the form of articles, forum topics or competitions, you have to give them something to get excited about. Motivate them and influence them to join in or share. As with the other areas research is important as is a deep understanding of what your community will want.
Why not get your community involved? They are much more likely to share and promote the content if they have been involved.
Post the content where they will want to receive it. You can’t always put a snippet on your Facebook page and link through to your site, you have to be where they want to receive information.
Tip 4 – Fully research your area and ensure your community needs and motivations are answered.
Providing an authority to your subject matter
As long is your content is good, thorough, provides a point of view and above all creates something your average reader wouldn’t find you will begin to create an authority. This point of view and authority will help improve your standing with your target audience. They will start to trust what you are saying and you become the go-to site for your subject matter. Perhaps more importantly for company sites, the visitor in terms becomes increasingly likely to buy from you as that trust builds. This trust becomes a perceived brand value for the customer and will help the user make purchase decisions, regardless of channel.
Being an authority figure also ensures that you are referenced much more by the industry and in turn by people in their social networks or on their blogs. All great SEO.
Tip 5 – If you want to create an authority, only people who genuinely know should write and make the pieces thorough.