Content Marketing: What It Is and Why It's Important
In case you hadn’t already noticed, 2013 is all about content. Google’s ever-evolving ranking algorithm has finally come of age and is sophisticated enough to be able to rank sites based on the quality and relevance of their content like never before. No longer is content generation a matter of writing for SEO purposes OR for human visitors (or finding a balance of the two which was the case for many years). Finally, we have reached a point where the content that search engines like is largely the same as content that your human visitors will like.
"The line between writing good SEO copy for search engines and engaging copy for humans has all but disappeared."
The days of keyword stuffing, or writing meaningless content that would only impress search engines, are thankfully a distant memory. Producing great content that engages your visitors is well and truly in. Yup, content is king!
If SEO is at the top of your list of priorities (and let's face it, for any business, SEO has got to be up there) then focusing on improving your content should be right at the top of your to-do list, because good content is more important than ever in determining how a website is ranked by Google.
What exactly is content marketing?
Put simply, content marketing is the ability of a business to communicate effectively with existing and potential customers in a meaningful way. Content marketing drives trust in a brand and creates a connection. Having trust and feeling connected to a brand makes a customer more receptive to any subsequent marketing messages, making them more likely to react positively.
A traditional customer encounter might go something like this:
We sell boxes > They are brilliant boxes > Come and buy them from us!
An alternative, more content-focused encounter may go more like this:
Here is a lot of helpful information on boxes > We know a lot about boxes > We understand why you want to buy boxes > We sell brilliant boxes that fit your needs > Come and buy from us!
The second content-focused approach will ultimately convert more customers and builds trust more successfully. This content-focus will prove more successful in the long-run, making it an effective strategic approach to use.
“The single most significant trend is the continued emergence of content marketing as a standalone discipline. Content, in all its shapes and forms, is core to everything we do as marketers.” Econsultancy, Digital Trends for 2013.
Many consumer-focused businesses, in particular retailers, will find it relatively easy to strengthen existing content, or to create new content. For others, in particular B2B companies who may not have particularly sexy or interesting products or services, this can be more difficult. As in the example above, just how do you make content interesting for a company who makes boxes?
If you are just getting started, my advice is to start by going over what you currently have. There is no point writing brilliant new content if it will join a whole bunch of mediocre or mis-matched content. Look at what you already have and optimise this before you go any further.
How good is your content?
To understand the quality of your content you will need to appraise your existing content. The following questions will help you understand the most important considerations.
- How useful is your existing content – are you giving your customers the information they are looking for?
- Does your content tell a potential new customer everything they need to know in order to make an informed decision?
- Is your content all sales focused and full of blatant marketing?
- Are benefits clearly laid out and are they compelling enough?
- Is the content interesting enough to warrant return visits, bookmarking or sharing?
- Is your content sticky enough to capture and hold peoples attention, increasing their dwell time?
- Is all of your content professionally written?
- Is your content on-brand?
The bottom line is, focusing on the quality of your content will help to ensure that you are able to maintain your online visibility throughout 2013 and It will have a big influence on your ability to gain the competitive edge, especially in terms of keeping existing customers engaged and in reaching new ones.
Shell Robshaw-Bryan is a marketing consultant and professional blogger who works for the Cheshire based digital agency Surefire Media, where she specialises in organic search, content strategy and social media engagement. Shell has extensive experience in consumer retail brand marketing, web design, SEO and content writing and ran her own web design and SEO business for a number of years.
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