“Content is King!” – In our industry that term has been so over-used it makes me (and most other marketers) groan every time it’s mentioned. Alas, there’s a reason it has been used so much; great content is essential to any decent digital marketing activity for many, many reasons:
- Content engages with your audience
- Content shows you know what you’re talking about (thought leadership)
- Content earns you (natural) links (essential for SEO)
- Content gets you found (especially if you’re writing content around search queries (more on this in a moment))
- Content helps you stand out from the competition
- Content keeps Google interested
Those are just a handful of reasons why content is important but there is one reason that stands out above all others (in my humble opinion) and that’s that Google loves content.
But let me clarify that for a moment, Google only loves high-quality, original and interesting content. It’s like a user in that way – no one wants to read the same content on multiple websites. No one wants to read content that’s clearly written for search engines and stuffed with keywords. No one wants to read great swathes of jargon and dry, boring text.
With that in mind Google’s Quality Guidelines clearly state that Webmasters must:
“Make sure that your site adds value. Publishers are not allowed to create multiple pages, sub-domains or domains with substantially duplicate content.”
This is aimed at various sorts of websites – those affiliate websites that add no value, scraper sites that steal content from others and try to rank for it and sites with poor quality content throughout. But it’s possible that you may be infringing these guidelines without even realising it.
E-Commerce Product Copy
There’s a possible argument that the average e-commerce site doesn’t add much value over and above the next one. Many e-commerce sites will copy their product descriptions directly from the manufacturer’s documentation (or website). The result of which is many sites with the same product and the same content.
I’ve always tried to get my clients into the right mindset on this – if you’re doing this what are you offering over-and-above your competitors? A better price? Faster delivery? A superior service? If the answer is no to most of those questions then you might just come unstuck, not just in terms of search rankings but the conversions and leads you’re getting from your website as a result.
On the other hand it’s often not viable to re-write the copy of every product on your website. With 1,000’s of products you may be sinking hours into it with no guarantee of improved results. But tweaking copy, perhaps adding your own reviews and personal descriptions, adding the ability for customers to leave reviews and including things like videos and tutorials on the product pages would help your pages offer much more value over those of your competitors.
Thin Content Penalties
One of the dangers of not putting effort into your content is the potential of suffering from a ‘thin’ content penalty.
This is not a new concept. Google introduced the ‘Panda’ update to their algorithm back in February 2011 which dealt with so-called thin or shallow content. This meant that people with low-quality content were seeing their search results plummeting across the board. But in the more serious cases Google is penalising websites and completely removing them from the index. You can imagine the financial impact that would have if your site was suddenly dropped from Google altogether!
This is why it’s important both not to neglect your content and to have a content plan in place.
Why Content Plans Matter
So it’s quite clear that content is important. But there are so many different sorts of content that it’s worth considering all the options when making a plan. Improving content on your site may mean:
- Re-writing product copy to make it unique and add value
- Writing category content to optimise pages for search engine rankings and usability
- Writing blog content to establish your business as a thought-leader
- Creating how-to guides for using your products
- Producing helpful guides, whitepapers and downloads to help your customers get the most out of your products and services
- Building interesting and educational content that people will share on the web (getting you natural links and better brand reach)
Planning this sort of content out will necessarily involve prioritisation, timing, budgeting and resource calculations. You’ll need to be able to see the ROI on any content creation, but you’ll also need to consider the dangers of not doing these things.
Minding the Small Matters
Hopefully the above considerations have given you some food for thought on the different ways content works and what it can do for your business, but it’s worth bearing in mind that every bit of content you produce works in different ways.
Something as simple as a blog article can work for you in different ways – if it’s written around a query based search (i.e. a search that shows someone is looking for more information on a subject) it may naturally encourage visitors to your website directly through the search engine results. They may not instantly convert and these articles may even have a high bounce rate as people find out what they needed to know then go on with their lives, but it’ll get you into their mind when they come to purchase, it’ll help you reach people you might not have before and it’ll help build a content theme throughout your website – after all if you’re always talking about the same subject matter then Google is more likely to think you know what you’re talking about and that’s what your site is about.
Turning Theory Into Practice
So now I’ve hopefully planted the seeds of why content is so important. If you want to find out even more download our content marketing guide and see the other possibilities open to you.