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Is content still king? Well, 90 percent of businesses say they use content marketing as a primary tool for generating leads, so that’s pretty telling. But that doesn’t mean they’re doing everything right.

Against a landscape of mass mobile migration and constantly-updated Google search algorithms, producing killer content – the kind that draws in, engages, and converts the right audience – has gotten a whole lot more complicated. Here are some tips for ensuring your content serves you well.

Quality as well as quantity

It’s not enough to simply produce content – it has to actually be great. Aside from Google’s dislike for it, thin content, i.e., low quality or “shallow” content, hurts you because it’s not worth reading, let alone sharing. Who’s coming back to your blog as a thought leadership resource? Nobody, if your content ultimately provides no value to the reader.

If there’s a formula for the perfect piece of content, it would look like this:

  • Valuable messaging with a target audience in mind
  • Written in a way that gets Google to rank it and readers to pay attention
  • Engaging enough to encourage readers to respond to your call-to-action, share the piece, and interact with the author

Sounds simple enough, but even if you manage it, it’s only half the battle as even great content isn’t automatically visible on the crowded Web. And the reality is, it’s not easy to write content that will deliver the right balance between being search engine-friendly and reader-friendly – or, as forensic SEO consultant Alan Belweiss suggests, passes the “QUART Test: Quality, Uniqueness, Authority, Relevance, Trust.”

And content doesn’t JUST mean your blog – it means the content on every page of your website, and how it serves your site’s visitors. All content should be useful and informative, and meet the intention of the search that brought the reader there.

Be purposeful, or be penalized

Websites chock full of this type of meaningful content are known as “authority sites” – and Google actually favors them in search. Unless or until your site becomes one – something worth striving for – getting links from authority sites is also a worthwhile endeavor.

As Julie Joyce at Search Engine Watch points out, “You want links from authority content but you also want to author authority content since that can easily lead to great links for you.” To that end, be sure everything you write can be verified elsewhere, or (even better) cite sources proving your case. You don’t get to just call yourself an authority without being able to back it up.

And don’t waste your time on SEO “tricks” of days gone by – like “keyword stuffing” or repeating content. These tactics don’t cut it against smarter search algorithms that can differentiate between repeated and original content.

Google also frowns upon “over optimizing” (and you never want to anger the Google gods!). This, along with thin content, will get you penalized.

So what, then, should businesses and marketers do to get the most out of their content?

Tools to optimize content

Rather than try to figure everything out on your own, there are a number of content optimization tools to help you understand which factors matter, and how to apply them. Like adjusting your focus from keywords to domain pages.

“It is less important today for content marketers, CMOs and SEOs to know the impact of an individual keyword,” says Jan Grundmann, Content Marketing Manager at Searchmetrics, “but rather to analyze the topic performance of the individual landing pages. This is especially relevant for eCommerce brands as this will have a direct impact on transactions.”

Focusing on individual pages of your site (or your competitors’) means you can direct your energy where it matters, instead of wasting time and effort making changes where they aren’t needed.

Searchmetrics, along with other companies like Moz Content, and Hubspot, to name just a few, make it easy for businesses to be assured their content is both search engine-friendly and reader-friendly.

Here’s what you want a content optimization solution to do:

  • Offer insights for relevant content creation as well as engagement
  • Identify and suggest relevant market keywords in real-time
  • Account for mobile users as well as desktop
  • Compare content against competitors to identify opportunities

And of course each company has its own unique features you should explore to find the one that best suits your needs. The most important thing is to make sure you can easily understand which content is most powerful for your business and offer it up in volumes.

As long as you’re doing that, your site can be King too.