On a recent trip to Mexico, I pulled out the in-flight magazine and began to flip through the pages as I prepared for a couple of hours of boredom in the usual tiny, cramped space that airlines pass off as a seat these days. The content immediately got my attention, and I was soon immersed in the descriptive prose that revealed interesting tidbits about both obscure and commonplace travel destinations alike. The photography was vibrant and seducing. I wanted to experience these places immediately. Then it hit me: This is good content, and this is what good content has always been. This magazine was obviously compiled by businesses for advertising, but it was informative, powerful, and well-researched, just as any good journalistic periodical might be. It was really advertising at its best.
Good Online Content Defined
The truth is that what defines good content hasn’t changed much over the years: It’s original, thought-provoking, insightful, and well-researched with sources to back it up. The only difference is that content is readily published online now. Online publishing has given rise to one great obstacle to high-quality content: the rush. Companies like to push content out there as quickly as possible, but unless it’s covering something that’s only relevant to the moment, it’s not wise to throw something up on a website just because you need more content, or you feel the need to publish every day.
The SEO/Thought Leadership Connection
This is where good content leads to thought leadership and a good SEO strategy. As Google evolves and other search engines along with it, we notice that what Google really wants is to help people find what they are looking for — to inform them. Newer algorithms are trying to help answer complex search queries that involve comparisons and answer the question of why. The future of SEO is not only about keywords and proper placement, but it’s about how useful your content is to the reader or to the web surfer. If your company provides content that is original and useful, it becomes a thought leader surrounding the industry or niche to which it is providing key information and advice. It also ranks higher in the search engine world. As the publishing of online content turns into a deluge, the competition for readership grows along with the challenge of publishing original and engaging work.
Writing Content that Isn’t “Cheap”
As a company, people don’t pay for your content, but they do pay for your products. So how can you keep your content out of the “cheap” category? Creating engaging content can be a challenge, and it’s time-consuming. It’s necessary to develop a publishing process that involves brainstorming, research from multiple sources, and editing. Focus on new ideas and controversial topics. Investigate questions that your target market is asking. Include information from conflicting sources if possible. Find good sources for photography or visuals to draw people in. Develop an editorial calendar to meet deadlines in a timely manner without having to rush publication. After publication, you’ll want to be sure to distribute your work through the proper channels.
Not a Writer or a Publisher? No Problem.
How is one business that sells, let’s say medical equipment, supposed to focus on producing and selling the best defibrillator, write stellar content, and produce photography or graphics at same time? After all, you’re not a publishing company. Outsourcing is what many companies do with their content. According to a survey done by the Content Marketing Institute, over 90% of companies in North America are utilizing some form of content marketing, while close to 50% of small businesses and 70% of big companies outsource some content. To successfully outsource and be competitive in the future of SEO, the outsourced company will need more information about your firm. This cannot be a hire ‘em and forget about ‘em situation. To get the most out of your content provider, be responsive to any questions they may have about your company, products, and your clients. To make sure your new thought-provoking content is seen and heard, provide the company you are outsourcing with keywords relevant to your business and business goals. Even better, work with a company that does your SEO, writes your content, and knows how to distribute it. Hey, we know where you can get one of those 😉
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