Content is King in website marketing

content-is-king

For a long time now, most web folks have known that “Content is King”. What does that mean? Great content can get visitors to your website. Great content can keep people on your website. Great content gets people to link to your website. Great content can get search engines to rank you well. Keeping content fresh can help maintain your good search engine results (SERPs).

What do I mean by content?

The content I’m referring too can be text, products, photos, videos, social media, blogs, white papers, comments, polls, rankings and anything else that adds something to your website.

What makes content so important?

As a search engine optimization (SEO) geek I know, right after the very basics like meta information, the most important thing to consider in trying to rank high is content. The search engines love text, especially when it is relevant and supports the rest of the websites content. By relevant I mean, adding a chocolate chip cookie recipe to an architecture website probably won’t help your relevancy. Adding an article about computer aided design (CAD) might.

Google will tell you that one way to get better rankings on search engines is having quality inbound links to your site. You can hire a link building person to scour the web looking for opportunities, or you can develop content that someone might be interested in linking too. I hate the term but “Link Bait”, or creating content with the intent to encourage links, is a great way to increase where you rank in the SERPs.

Besides the search engines, believe it or not visitors to your site like good content. Using the example above, let’s say a visitor comes to your architecture website and the first page they come across is an article on chocolate chip cookies. The likelihood of the visitor staying on the site is low; the likelihood of them turning into a conversion is even lower. Alternately, if you have content the visitor is interested in, they are much more likely to stay or comeback.

Where can I get great content?

The biggest problem with great content is getting great content. Most companies don’t have the resources such as technical writers and content marketing specialist on staff. It can be expensive to generate and maintain content. In an article I came across on eConsultancy entitled, “Your company is awash with great content” they demonstrate all the resources companies can leverage. Below is an exert from that article listing resources you might not have thought of.

Hiding in powerpoint decks. Sales decks, investor presentations, process-focused slides…

Inside the heads of your people. Not just your smartest or most senior people; your front-line sales and support people too; and your product people.

In customer communications. Your customers are a prime source of Grade A content. Almost every interaction has at least the germ of a blog post.

In sales proposals. The things you use to get people to take out their checkbooks.

In promotional bumf. These days, marketers discount all those data sheets and product brochures and case studies as ‘old-school’ content. But there’s gold in those pdfs (if you’ve got the pan to swish it out).

In what other people say about your world. Journalists, bloggers, analysts and experts are all paid (in one way or another) to secrete content. Get your paper towels out.

In everyday working docs. Those banal process documents meeting reports, project summaries and status updates.

In emails. Your email store is absolutely packed with content ready to discover and unleash. In your In box and your Sent folder. Internal emails. External emails. Marketing emails. Viagra spam. (Okay, maybe not Viagra spam – although I did once write a post on it).

In your social channels. Stop tweeting and just listen to every one else’s tweets for a few hours. Dig under the self-promotional layer in every LinkedIn group. Peel back the social veneer of Facebook. Shine a light into the darker corners of YouTube, Slideshare and Pinterest.

What makes great content?

That is a difficult question to answer. The short of it is, it’s different for every website, company, market, etc. My suggestion is do your research. Figure out what your customers are reading, viewing, liking, retweeting and do more of that. Posting one article will not help, be consistent. Ask your sales people or heaven forbid, ask your customers what they might be interested in seeing. Having great, relevant content is not easy. If it were, everyone would be doing it.

Latest technology isn't always the right technology

Above is what I see now when I try to read an article on one of my favorite websites, Lifehacker. Lifehacker is an awesome resource, providing articles on all sorts of ways to improve your daily existence. I used to read almost every article on Lifehacker in Google Reader via RSS. Not so much anymore.

A little while back something changed. I am only speculating here so if I wrong feel free to correct me. It seems to me that Lifehacker’s parent company (Gawker) changed the way files were hosted. For example, generally website images are stored on the same domain as the website. If the domain is http://www.lifehacker.com, then the images might be stored at http://www.lifehacker.com/images/. A quick peek at their code shows me that their images are now being hosted at img.gawkerassests.com/img/. Normally, this might not be a big deal, after all Gawker and Lifehacker are the same company. The problem for me is, our corporate firewall software doesn’t like it, so the software blocks any files coming from that domain (images, css scripts, javascripts) and the results are what you see in the image above.

So why the the title? The experience got me thinking. In this case, Lifehacker has lost a reader because they changed to a “new”, “better” way of doing things. Many of us in web development and information technologies scramble to implement the latest thing. Case in point, Facebook’s mobile experiment, developing with HTML5 instead of a native application. Sometimes we should make sure what we are doing is best for our customers/visitors and not so we can play with the newest toys. JS.

I can still read Lifehacker on my phone, tablet and laptop, but I don’t look at it near as much as I used to.

Update: As of noon on 10/08/2012, whatever was broken with Lifehacker is now fixed. Yahhh!. Crazy that it is was broken for months before I wrote this.