Content is king. That was a popular phrase in the early days of search engine optimization, more popular still once content marketing started to take off. The meaning of that phrase is pretty simple: For whatever other gimmicks, tactic, or strategies you employ, high-quality and compelling content is the single most essential, make-or-break component of your marketing strategy.
It’s a useful phrase for a couple of reasons. One, it provides focus. SEO strategies tend to ebb and flow, as Google’s search algorithms themselves are subject to change—but the importance of content is something you can rely on. So long as you don’t get distracted from that simple premise, you can’t veer too far off course.
In addition, it provides some practical direction for your blog and Web content development. Your starting point is always going to be more or less the same: Devise topics and themes that not only align with your company’s vision, but that also offer practical, actionable value to your targeted readers. That first step sets your entire content development process in motion.
But content is king, as a marketing truism, has long drifted into cliché—and in some ways, fallen out of fashion. It’s enough to raise the question: Is content still paramount to effective online marketing?
Google’s Value Proposition
To answer this question, we need to step back and make a few observations about how search engines work; for the sake of simplicity, we’ll just use Google as shorthand here. What is Google’s ultimate aim with its search engine results page? Like any company, Google is trying to provide its customers with a product that is useful and satisfactory. In this case, the customers are search engine users; the product is the list of search engine results themselves. What Google needs to do to keep its customers happy is simple: Continue to provide useful, to-the-point search results that answer the questions search engine users are asking.
That’s the one constant thread in search engine optimization and content marketing. Algorithms may change and trends come and go, but Google is always going to have an interest in providing a valuable product to its customers—which means that algorithms are always going to be looking for content that gives users what they came for.
Not only does this mean content will always be king, but it suggests some helpful ways of thinking about what good, effective content really is. Consider this checklist of what high quality content should be:
- Easy to navigate
- Descriptive and accurate in its headlines and meta descriptions
- Formatted to ensure easy skimming and reading
- Engaging and well-written
- Enriched with graphics, videos, and supplemental links
- Actionable in its practical takeaways
- Relevant to the targeted search engine queries
Keep this in mind as you develop content with search engine optimization in mind: You’re ultimately helping provide Google with its product—and so long as you develop something that Google’s customers want, you’re on the right track.