Content makes the internet go ’round, right? At this point, we’ve all heard that we have to produce content to get search engines (and ultimately visitors) to our websites. Because of this, I am asked regularly “How often should I blog?” and to this, my answer is the same each time: “As often as you can produce something useful” . That answer is usually followed by some in-depth discussion about our client’s prospects and goals in relation to their content strategy. However, there are some general rules which apply when we’re talking about business blogging. The most important of which is:
If you can’t add value, add nothing at all.
That might sound a bit outlandish in today’s “Content is King” climate, but I would argue that quality content is the only true path to organic search success. Times have changed since that phrase was coined and search engines have become far more sophisticated. Search engines can very easily tell how real people react when they land on your website. They can tell how many times your content is shared with others, how long a person spent viewing your pages and how many pages they looked at, in addition to a wealth of additional information that helps them understand whether or not your articles are useful to a visitor.
We certainly don’t advocate leaving your blog to sit stagnant, but if you’re feeling pressured to write something and keep coming up with articles that you couldn’t pay someone to read – you aren’t doing yourself any favors. It’s honestly better not to write anything than to produce content that doesn’t provide value to a visitor. Why? Because as search engines realize that your content isn’t useful it will be buried in search results and no one will see it anyhow.
On the flip side, you need not produce award winning content each time you blog either. Just ask yourself some simple questions before you begin to write:
Will this article fully answer a question my visitor has? Great articles leave visitors feeling good about the fact that you have answered a question completely and they need not head back to the search engine to try and find the answer. This also adds bonus points to your credibility score if you are selling a product or service related to the question you’ve answered.
Will this article contain details or ideas my visitor can’t find elsewhere online? Your business has a unique set of principles, ideas and methods that should come across in your blog. It’s important to set your voice apart from the rest, no matter how much competition is out there. Avoid duplicating ideas that are already easily found. Sometimes it’s helpful to do a search on the topic you are planning to write about, take a few minutes to look through the first few search results to see how the topic is already being covered and write with that in mind.
If this isn’t an original idea, will my article add value to what’s already covered? This point plays into the point above in many ways. The likelihood of your article idea being completely original is extremely remote, however you can almost always add value to what’s already been written. As you are writing from your business’s perspective you can also add visuals such as video, charts, and other useful examples to illustrate your point. Adding value to a topic already covered online means giving visitors something more or different than the rest. This is especially useful when covering a heavily searched and densely populated topic.
Does my title match my content? This is so simple it seems silly, but because of the value search engines place on titles – it’s extremely important that the two are aligned perfectly. A misalignment of the two can mean visitors don’t get what they expect or hoped they would find on the page. I always recommend writing your title after you’ve written your article. Come up with your concept prior to writing, but revisit the title once you’re done with the article and make sure it’s aligned with the full message of the article.
In the battle of quality vs. quantity: Quality should win every time.
Yes, you should be putting out as much content as possible – but, above all, give visitors what they want. If you can’t produce something visitors would find helpful (be honest here), don’t write anything at all; because as search evolves, you will likely find that poor content will bring your entire site down in ranking ability.
On the other hand, there are internet marketing companies that specialize in working with businesses to blend their content and ideas with content they don’t have to produce. Taking this approach gives businesses a hybrid approach which keeps their unique voice and often times takes a load off of the pressure involved with producing content worthy of search inclusion.