With the 2011 release of Panda, the most recent change to Google’s search results rating algorithm, the web has become increasingly like traditional publishing, where greater attention is paid to ideas that are fully formed and useful. These evolving standards promote the ability to distinguish between substantive and trivial content and builds the critical authority your business requires online.
Currently expected of web content: Does it provide pertinent, original, and cogent information; is it linked to other resources that provide corroboration and context; is it refreshed regularly; does it serve the user; and is it readable?
These standards are dictated by the search engines, most notably Google…but their evaluations are informed and dictated by people’s willingness to pay attention, a rule that content has always had to follow in the world of information and teaching standards. The early academic web began there, but it’s taken us a long time to get back to the beginning.
The Early Web
With the rise of the popular web, there was an active period of exploration and innovation as artists and companies tested the boundaries of technology and design playing with the medium while debating the web’s future form. It was chaotic and strained at the limitations of small, low-resolution screens and slow modem speeds. The only standards were that there were no standards.
In the middle period, as it became viewed as a general public resource, it still appeared impermanent. Exciting and vibrant, but viewed as more of a whiteboard, where content could be posted, erased, and re-posted; always fresh, forever new. “Real information” was published, dedicated to print, which mattered, while the web was merely an adjunct, a place to get noticed.
Consequently, much that was written and posted online then was trivial, because popular opinion was that it would disappear. Carpetbaggers and their ilk moved in with quick fix promises of massive traffic, but in many cases the service they were providing was a bad investment, often worse than no investment at all.
Initially worse because the results were drawn from people seeking something other than what was delivered to them, so they arrived, but left immediately, annoyed and unlikely to return.
Worsened again, because Google never forgets. Companies whose websites deliberately used Black Hat SEO techniques will carry that history in the electronic record easily found by searchers and potentially embarrassing. In the world of search engines, especially Google, it will act for a long time as a kind of scarlet letter, a giant @crappola earning penalties that damage their search results.
The Internet Superhighway quickly became The Drivel Drive; simple search queries in the virtual world were virtually impossible. Even the most intricately written Boolean search would return pages of useless results, often for products to boost other types of “drive”.
Briefly, this practice rendered searching the web tiresome, clogged with pages of pointless results from sites using Black Hat techniques.
Search algorithms evolved to ferret out and dispatch offending sites, penalizing these for violations of netiquette. Today, standards for site evaluations and search rankings continue to move in a direction that strongly rewards thoughtful content with intrinsic value.
As Julia McCoy correctly points out in a recent SearchEngineJournal.com article, content has become more than a commodity. It is the currency that presently purchases the opportunity to be seen and heard online, and premium content holds the highest value.
Content Marketing and Authority Building involve more than repurposing basic info while massaging keywords on a regular basis. Today, content must develop, grow, and seek to provide value.
Planning & Execution
This is best done through meticulous planning and careful execution with a focus on an overarching objective. In planning, your offering should be carefully examined and evaluated against any potential or active competitors, with strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats articulated and analyzed.
An editorial calendar that dovetails with an overall marketing plan should be developed projecting the key articles and thoughts to be covered over a defined period of time. The plan may be adjusted ad hoc to take advantage of market opportunities and pressing events, but having one to adjust is superior to working off the cuff.
Content is best driven by the in-house knowledge base and expertise, supported by professional marketing writers and optimization experts who can refine and develop both plans and processes to ensure ideal results.
It’s slow, steady, meticulous work, and it gets sexy only if a post really catches fire and goes viral. Nevertheless, the only way to have a successful website that draws qualified traffic, people who may wish to buy your product or service, is to take the time to think through what the consumer is looking for and deliver it.
Contact Stepforth Web Marketing to discuss your content development needs. Either setup an appointment right away using this link, submit an inquiry using this form, or you can call us toll-free at 1-877-385-5526. Either way, we are happy to offer a free consultation and help you determine the best course of action to increase conversions on your website.
Written by Gayle Hurmuses