Great content can bring enormous value to every kind of company under the sun, but that proposition is not yet universally acknowledged.
The prevailing attitude toward content’s value is highly changeable. Sometimes, content is king. At other times, content is over, or, at least, its place in the grand scheme of things is overrated.
There’s a simple reason for the ebb and flow of content’s reputation: Not all content is created equal.
There’s great content out there on the web. But it’s surrounded by an ocean of terrible content big enough to drown all the good stuff many times over.
The existence of that ocean is the product of a misguided school of thought that says that quality doesn’t matter and that what’s important is content for content’s sake. That line of thinking brings us “articles” that are stuffed to the gills with keywords, articles that no human being would ever want to read and that no one in his right mind would want to link to or share with anyone other than his worst enemy.
At one time, this didn’t matter. The primary value of content was to be found in its ability to generate better rankings in search results, and you could deploy all kinds of devious tricks to convince a search algorithm that you mattered. Quality was beside the point.
Even if we look at content simply as a way to improve search rankings – a worthy goal, but not the only thing content can do – that approach no longer works, and that’s no accident. Google is not a stupid company. It knows that quality search results are a key component of its business model. Without them, a Google search loses its utility. People will look for better options. Google is out to defend its turf at all costs.
As a result, it’s part of Google’s overarching strategy to refine its approach to search on a regular basis. It makes those refinements behind the scenes, announcing changes in very broad terms, always hiding the nuts and bolts of each new approach and speaking only of its inexorable search for “quality” out there on the internet. There’s a virtual industry out there devoted to decoding Google’s cryptic intentions, but the key parameter is always “quality,” and, to a very real extent, that’s all you need to know.
Speaking solely in terms of search results, then, quality content is absolutely critical. It always has been, and it always will be. The fact that the web is rife with terrible content is a fact that’s completely beside the point. Google is well aware of what’s out there, and it’s perfectly happy to ignore what doesn’t make the algorithmic cut – or, at least, to bury the keyword stuffers 20 pages deep in the results.
In light of all this, companies can avail themselves of the services of an army of SEO magicians who will wave their magic wands over website content and turn a plague of frogs into search-optimized princes and princesses.
While some of the magic works, there’s a more fundamental approach that actually works better, and it’s an approach that brings benefits well beyond improved search rankings. With our approach, content is still king, but the focus shifts to publishing the best content possible.
In the end, the formula is deceptively simple. If your content has value, Google and Bing will find you. Everything else is optional.