The web marketing world is full of SEO (search engine optimization) offers. They often tell stories of wild new amounts of business using back room magic. One that was shared recently promised 111% more traffic in just 14 days! Usually more web traffic is better, but SEO packages that deal only with structure and links miss the reality of customer behavior---especially if they resort to risky or unethical tactics. Without addressing what the web searcher finds when they arrive on a site, SEO can miss the main point of building valuable web traffic that creates real customers. Both the search engines and potential buyers are looking for valuable content.
One instant way to measure the value of traffic is to look at the bounce rate and time on page. The higher the bounce rate and the lower the time on page, the less valuable the content is—and search engines pay attention to the numbers. Since the mission of search engines is to help people find information, when people leave a page quickly, it tells the search engine that the content isn’t very useful. The result of posting poor or misleading content is lower search rankings (despite the frenetic SEO package purchase).
This makes a lot of sense. But, if you still aren’t convinced, consider two reasons why valuable content is important:
- Google says so. Since this is the predominant search engine in the world, if you want customers to find you online you should listen.
- The customer experience begins as they experience your published content. You know the feelings (and the remarks) you have when you search for something, find just the right listing, and then discover that what you were looking for isn’t even there.
Here's what Google evaluates when rating the quality of content:
- Writing at an expert level. Not just anything will do.
- Focus on a great user experience. Not only optimized for search, but for the reader—that means visual appeal, good organization, and responsive software for all devices.
- Continuing to create content. Google’s comment is, “a high-quality rating requires a satisfying amount of website information.”
- Interaction with relevant and authoritative sources. That means you have to link to, and interact with, other valuable sites.
- Site has easily accessed contact information. Yes, that means they want website content from real people.
- Fresh is best. The frequent indexing of your site should turn up ongoing content.
Better SEO packages include content.
Why would you invest in SEO packages that don’t include a content strategy? The best approach is one that combines valuable content and a great user experience. A search strategy should also be included, with keywords, links, and mobile-friendly structures. And this approach is not just about back room magic, it's about creating a quality experience that search engines find rankable and the people who use the content find sharable. Sharebility is a great test for the value of any type of content.
A content farm is not a good source.
Avoid an automated, or “spun," content source. A vendor that is driven by overseas writers with a focus on keywords and volume---rather than real, expert content---is a dangerous strategy. If you are the business or organizational leader, then your internal “knowledge keepers” should be made available to provide what only they can provide—real insights into the people you serve, their needs, and the way you serve them.
Evaluate SEO plans with a few key questions:
- Does the SEO package include a written content strategy?
- Does the content feel valuable and interesting to you? Review examples of the written content.
- How much content is planned, and how often will it be updated?
- What is the source of the content, and can that source be considered authoritative?
- How will content writers interact with internal “knowledge keepers?”
SEO and content should be seen as integrated parts of a web marketing strategy. Avoid writing content without keywords and links in mind, and never plan SEO without including content in the execution.