With all the changes to the Google algorithms, and the press it has been getting over the past year, people are suddenly taking notice of something that has been the number one rule of websites and blogs all along – content is king. What has changed over the years is the influence that content plays and our understanding of how to use content.

So just why should I create content?

To have more content

Writing good content, with the visitor in mind, will always be helpful, both to your relevance, and to your visitor’s experience with your brand. From a simple perspective, more pages get you more traffic.

The more relevant content you have, the more opportunities Google sees for you to be relevant , and the higher you will rank in the Search Engine Results Pages (SERP). And the more people who see your pages in the search engine results, and click onto your site and have a good user experience (in other words, they stay on your site and don’t leave within 10-15 seconds) the more relevant you were to that visitor. And the more relevant you are to more visitors, the higher you rank, and so on. Now, every visitor isn’t a sale. We know that 9 out of 10 people who visit your site for the first time are just looking, but if they have a good experience, they are more likely to come back and convert in a way that is meaningful to your business.

You also need to consider that visitors will be at different points in the decision making process, and therefore have something for each stage. If people are coming to “buy”, make it obvious how to do so. If they are still kicking the tires, give them something to take away that speaks well about your business an how it can solve their problems.

It is important that your site is optimized for relevant, targeted keyphrases. You also need to be sure that your site is visitor friendly, and that you are not inadvertently giving your prospects away to your competition. You also need to make sure your content is accessible to the search engines from a technical perspective (XML sitemap, robots.txt file)

Obviously, not everyone who comes to your site will be 100% satisfied, which is why it is helpful to have assets that someone can take with them, to possibly entice them to return to your site. So, while your content may attract some visitors into leads, some may decide you are not a good fit. But those people, if they saw a whitepaper on an educational topic of interest to them, might download that asset and leave, read the paper, and decide you are quite the expert on the subject and give you another look by returning to your site. They may then read a blog post, and decide to subscribe to your RSS feed. This is a type of self-nurturing that occurs with good content. And all this activity is a positive signal to Google that your content is relevant.

Another advantage of having more content is that you can develop your internal linking on relevant search terms, which is yet another positive indicator to the search engines.

So, creating more content which attracts new visitors, and keeps visitors longer, as well as content that satisfies the repeat visitor, demonstrates how content for content sake can be valuable.

To get more links

Another mantra of late is the importance of inbound links (those links from outside of your website pointing to pages on your website) to the overall SEO strength of your site, be it a website or blog. And while content creation to attract new links isn’t a new idea, it is an important one.

Gone are the days of renting links or buying 85,000,000 links for $5 to grow you inbound link profile. So how do you go about building links with content?

One way of looking at it is the “Field of Dreams” hypothesis: if you build it (in this case, the content) they will come (meaning the inbound links).

Building content around interesting, innovative or provocative content is always a good way to attract links to your content. But how do you find this content? Visit related blogs, forums, answers sites to look for frequently asked questions or common issues, especially if the answers that have been provided so far are terrible, or lacking. Or maybe there are some good answers, but you can provide insight from a new perspective.

This is where cues from social media discussions are essential. By participating in LinkedIn Answers or starting your own LinkedIn Group, you have an unending stream of content ideas from your colleagues, clients and prospects. Run a poll on Facebook or make a simple statement on Twitter and see how many retweets you get and you’ll instantly know how sticky that content can be.

Once you have the content, you can sit back and hope that people will see it, or go back to those sites where you found the fodder for creating your own content, and post your own perspective, with a link back to your new content.

Another way to get inbound links is to write content for other people. If you subscribe to any blogs, you know that there is good content out there. But I bet you know where the holes in the content are too. Extending the olive branch out can often get people linking back to your site as a contributing writer. And while it is a lot more work, for seemingly less reward, it opens the possibilities to get new eyeballs on your writing style, and hopefully back to your content on your own site.

There is a catch-22 to guest writing though. Not everyone wants your help, especially if you are an unknown. That’s why I would consider this a second step, once you have fattened out your own content offerings, and can show your expertise, writing style, and interest level from your own site content to potential external sites.

And rather than just blindly soliciting these sites, take a look at the content they have, review their site, find the content opportunities, and write up something that fills that gap and send it to them. This way, you are showing diligence in understanding their site, and giving them examples of your own work to back it up.

So, how do you know what is the right kind of content?

  • It should keep within your corporate guidelines
  • It should be manageable from a time perspective
  • It should be interesting, thought-provoking, and appeal to your visitors
  • It should be optimized for search engines

The best way to determine good content on your site is by measuring its effectiveness. Using a tool like Google Analytics to study stickiness of content (number of visits, time on the page, bounce rate) is a great way to begin. Over time, measuring conversions from the content and inbound links to the content are even stronger indicators that your content development efforts have been time well spent.