No seriously I am Spartacus Smith and I sell shoes. Then again so does Spartacus Jones and Spartacus Butcher. A silly illustration but it’s a point that bears clarification – if there are other businesses out there that are competing for market share with you then it’s important for both Google and users to be able to separate the wheat from the chaff.
Any SEO company will tell you about the proliferation of news stories about privacy and anonymity on the web – indeed, you’re probably aware of them yourselves. When it comes to the private individual and their data, there are a variety of conversations from the ethical to the practical. When it comes to business, it’s an obvious choice…
You want your customers to know who you are and when talking search marketing, you want Google to know who you are. One of Google’s main objectives is to make the web more transparent and this transparency is a clear platform for businesses.
Obviously there are some no-brainers to what content should be on a website – your products or services, an “about us” section and a “contact us” section spring to mind. We’re so used to seeing these on a site, it’s odd when they’re not there. Would you trust a business that doesn’t even supply a phone number?
However, these alone don’t cut it, they are simply a prerequisite.
To really show that Spartacus Smith is someone worth buying shoes from – over and above the competitors – you need to establish an identity. And whilst claiming your identity through social networks is hugely important, there needs to be an identity to claim – an ethos, a voice, in essence a brand – and the content development you implement on my site is the key to doing so.
The content on your site should reflect your business. Are you just a copy and paste of another business or are you a unique business that is worth customers investing their trust, and money, in? In some aspects of eCom, it’s fair to say that there are only so many ways to write a product description. However if all your site consists of is product descriptions, what do you really have to offer that 10 of your competitors don’t? When I say competitors I don’t just mean people who provide the same service or goods as you, I mean your competitors for the digital real estate that is the front page of Google.
The content on your site should be three things:
Now I accept that not everything that goes on there can always tick all 3 boxes but as a whole you need to focus on them and differentiating yourself by displaying your depth of knowledge on a subject is something that will reap considerable rewards.
Let’s run with the example of “shoes” (apologies for the pun).
When someone googles “shoes”, Google doesn’t know if that user wants to buy shoes, if they want to know how to make them, or the history of how clogs evolved as a cultural niche in different part of the world. If your content can, in principle, provide all of that, then you clearly know your stuff about “shoes” and this will obviously enhance the chances that Google will feel your website should be on its front page.
To be clear, authority doesn’t necessarily mean long or in-depth writing – whilst that is one example of authority content, it’s natural that different subjects require different approaches.
This content doesn’t always have to be text; it can be infographics, videos, anything that keeps users engaged and onsite longer. This is the kind of content you want to share via your social media; the kind of content people will want to share through THEIR social media. The cross over with social is hugely important but if you are attracting traffic through your social and don’t have content, people want to see on site you’re missing out on potential sales/clients. The point about time on site is increasingly important as SEO companies are agreed that this can be a factor in keeping a site ranking highly.
Whether the content is being produced in house or by an SEO company, it should always be a central focus of any marketing budget, particularly if you are hoping to legitimise links you may be building to your site. Why would anyone link to a site if there wasn’t content worth linking to?
First think of the type of image you want your website to create for your business – the sort of voice you want your site to talk in (Corporate? Friendly? Intellectual?), then identify what sort of content your readers will be interested in?
Here are some questions that might give you inspiration:
- What do you do well?
- Do you want to discuss your business model in generic principles (a little like this article, for example) or do you want to delve into a specific point and elaborate?
- Is there something interesting going on in your industry? And what is your business opinion on it?
- If your business is not entirely digital, does the website reflect that fact?
- If you have more than one branch or office is there anything interesting one in particular is doing? (Maybe Tony in accounting just got his black belt in Judo? Maybe Vicky in IT just ran a marathon and guess what she really prefers Adidas trainers over Nike!)
Taking the time to display to Google and the user both how your business functions and what its strengths are – these are perfect topics to base content around. Remember that your website shouldn’t just be a digital business card but a concerted effort to promote the image of a current and engaged business. This makes you look authoritative and that authority can translate into higher SERPs and more user engagement. With a wealth of information at the users’ fingertips, Google wants to maintain its reputation as returning the best results. The more authoritative a company can appear through the content it has online the better chance they stand of ranking highly for terms relevant to that content. An SEO company can help identify practical ways of achieving this step in brand development.