08 Nov Content is king – but context is queen
In the world of online marketing, there’s a well-known saying… “content is king”. The phrase was first popularised by Bill Gates in 1996, when a short essay drove home the point that the quality of the content can make or break a website – it’s not all about on page SEO. This in turn gave birth to the popular school of thought that without a content marketing strategy, your business is unlikely to reach your audience online. Writers across the globe are working tirelessly to feed the never-ending appetite for fresh, new, engaging content.
Content marketing basically means selling your clients on the information they get from your site as much as on your products or the services you provide. Original blogs and articles help give your business a defined personality, and potential clients will come to identify with your brand’s “voice”. Good content will hold users on your site, encourage them to return for the added value of information or entertainment, share their find, and ultimately secure loyal brand advocates. It’s also useful for SEO.
Many small businesses have a blog on their website for the sole purpose of boosting their SEO ranking. Everyone wants to secure a spot on that coveted first page of the search results. At first, search engines like Google would simply crawl the web looking for keywords, which a business would liberally stuff into every crevasse of their website regardless of whether it made sense. Over time things have become more sophisticated and search engines have become smarter – they strive to serve up content that the user will engage with. This means that your content needs to be original, current and of high quality to maximize your search rankings.
Unfortunately, clamouring for SEO attention has pulled many businesses away from the fundamentals of content marketing; those points Bill Gates first made about defining your corporate image and giving users something they’ll find useful. You may be drawing lots of hits with click-bait style articles or enticing titles, but leaving the brain on the other end of the finger thoroughly disappointed.
The importance of context
To put it simply, there’s absolutely no point in posting masses of brilliant, original and engaging content if its not what your audience wants to read. Starting with the content and defining yourself by who’s reading it is like choosing which type of bait to use after you’ve caught a fish. It’s not going to happen.
Instead, start by forming a clear picture of the type of person who is most likely to use your service or buy your product. It’s not good enough to say “people on holiday” if you own a bed and breakfast in Brighton. Your target market is going to be a specific type of traveller, perhaps someone on a budget, or who likes to think they’re having a more authentic holiday abroad by staying away from the big hotels. What else are those people interested in? Exploring destinations that are off the beaten track? Environmentally-friendly travel? Socialising with local people? Organic clothing? Find the community of interest. That’s what you need to be writing about.
Finding the right balance
If you accept the premise that content drives sales (and you really should), your greatest challenge may be to get over believing that your articles and blogs need to push your products. In fact, content that goes overboard on the hard-sell is going to turn people away in droves. Product placements need to be subtle, fitting naturally into the flow of the text. If you sell hats, you’ll have no problem inserting them in an article about the Royal Ascot. But if you’re appealing to those who are drawn to royalty and a celebrity lifestyle, you may not get your hats into every blog. And that’s the point.
Content marketing is all about setting the king (volume and quality) on an equal footing with the queen (context and relevance). Well-crafted and engaging articles will draw users to your site, and the relevance of the content will keep them there long enough to explore your offerings on their own.