“Content is where I expect much of the real money will be made on the Internet” (Bill Gates).
That quote is from Gates’ 1996 article, “Content is King.” 17 years later, Gates’ prescient vision has come to fruition.
Ubiquitous internet access, short consumer attention spans, and fierce competition have created an online world where unique, high-quality content is required for any level of success. Companies with better content receive more visitors from search engines and more chances at converting those visits into paying customers.
Here are six tips for using content to improve your search engine rankings:
Focus on Quality
The near-zero cost of adding additional content onto a webpage creates two strategic options for webmasters: flood the web with cheap, useless content or focus on better content at lower volume. Thanks to constant search engine innovations such as Google’s Panda, the high volume, low value approach is no longer effective.
Whereas websites with tens of thousands of poorly written articles may have once received thousands of high search engine rankings for long-tail results, current algorithms actively penalize such sites for hosting low-quality content. Not only do these content farms have low rankings for the specific bad articles themselves, but the entire site is penalized simply for publishing inferior content.
As such, webmasters now have a supreme incentive to focus on quality. A dozen well-written articles will bring more visitors (and help overall SEO efforts) far more than a hundred spun pieces of nonsense. Higher quality content improves search engine rankings.
Utilize Existing Offline Content
All real-world businesses have some existing offline content. Business cards, event flyers, and sales brochures are omnipresent in the brick-and-mortar world. These existing items can be converted into high-quality online content at low cost.
The easiest method for firms to generate online content is to simply scan or keep a digital file of any offline marketing materials. Copy/pasting this text to a company blog or a linked Facebook fan page takes just a few minutes. Since the writing has already been pre-approved in the offline world, site administrators can be confident in the quality of the content.
An even better strategy for improving overall SEO efforts would be to plan ahead and tailor online information to each new piece of uploaded content. For example, a business that produces a flyer advertising a monthly sale should upload an image of the flyer to a company blog and write short marketing copy about a few highlights from the sale.
By repurposing existing offline content, a company can effectively double the benefit of the material at very low marginal cost.
Consider Multimedia Content
Most businesses rely heavily on a text-based content strategy for corporate websites. To stand out from the competition, consider multimedia content to improve your SEO efforts.
Raj Verma, who manages the content department at Argon Marketing, explains one major benefit:
“Our data shows that multimedia content is shared far more often than simple text articles. One client who added a short video into each monthly blog post saw a 394 percent increase in social media shares and backlinks. These additional links boosted SEO across their entire website.”
Multimedia content is easier for visitors to consume and far easier to share. In particular, social media sites like Facebook and Twitter make it simple to share pictures and videos. Each time one of your visitors shares your content, they spread your marketing message for free to all of their followers.
Creating multimedia content does not need to be an all-or-nothing effort. Every business can afford to start with one picture a week and one video a month. Even such a limited effort will generate public shares and beneficial backlinks which will raise search rankings across the entire website.
Target Different Marketing Channels
Search engine optimization efforts can no longer be limited to a single page on a single site. Sophisticated algorithms now incorporate signals from a variety of sources, including many that have nothing to do with the website itself.
Businesses that want to improve SEO through content should target different marketing channels for the best results. Some channels, such as social media or in-house blogs, are under the direct control of the company. For these channels, firms should concentrate on producing unique content on a regular schedule. Other channels, such as industry newsletters or newspaper event calendars, can also provide valuable SEO benefits.
A company that creates a quarterly industry report or hosts an annual non-profit event should take the time to find alternative marketing channels to disseminate the information. For example, an event notice posted on the website of the local paper will often result in a direct backlink from the paper and additional links from bloggers who share the information on their own sites.
Create a Content Creation Process
Given the importance of quality, companies that embark on a content strategy for SEO should formalize a content creation process. In particular, the roles for creation and publishing should be separated whenever possible. A formal process allows for one more opportunity to avoid an online disaster.
In one famous example, the official Twitter account of a small clothing retailer tweeted a joke comparing a trending topic to one of the company’s brands. Unfortunately for the company, the topic was trending because of a school shooting. The single insensitive tweet lead to a boycott and a mass of negative publicity.
At the very least, a process for creating content provides guidelines for content producers and reduces the chance for a social media disaster. When used effectively, a formal content process will improve the quality and consistency of all forms of content creation.
Content is King
It has taken the rest of the internet decades to understand what Bill Gates was saying in 1996, but content is indeed king. Companies that produce better content have improved user interaction, more social sharing, and increased search engine rankings. Successful firms will use content as a valuable weapon in their SEO efforts across the internet.
By Nolan Kido
This article has been written by Nolan Kido. Nolan works in the technology industry in Honolulu, Hawaii.