The Benefits of Quality Content and Genuine Social Engagement

Posted on December 29th 2013

The Benefits of Quality Content and Genuine Social Engagement

ImageWith every algorithm update, Google is making SEO more and more complex. The company has expressed its desire to improve the quality of their search results, filtering out spammers and content of lower relevance — but how that ‘relevance’ is determined is becoming increasingly difficult to understand to a definitive degree. The elements that are regularly highlighted by Google are ‘quality content’ and ‘genuine engagement’.

The issue with quality content is that it’s less scientific. Less certainty in the process means more research, more work and, ultimately, more investment to ensure best results for your online presence. This can be a frightening prospect for companies — you can’t just go to Google Adwords and ensure all the relevant search terms are included on your webpage, you need people to be actually reading your content to up that relevance rating. Real people and real engagement.

The one metric that is totally clear is the need for social engagement. How many ‘Likes’, ‘re-Tweets’, webpage links — these elements are being weighted more heavily by search engines. The social media aspect, which used to only form a part of the SEO puzzle, is becoming more influential. The idealistic result of this is that users get a better quality experience all round, but the underlying motivator is that, over time, organic results will be diluted to the point that brands will have to pay to get best ROI. The only way to combat this is to create great, sharable, engaging content and become an active participant on social platforms. But what’s the best way do you do it? How do you know that the content you’re investing in will give your company the best results? Here are a couple of points to keep in mind:

  1. Quality content is what your clients want to read, not what you want to tell them. You can’t just load up your company website with a heap of updates on what the company’s doing, how you’re helping clients, etc. These are all sales pitches and, in the majority, these won’t be widely read. You’re caught up in the corporate culture and the internal wins and losses, so the temptation is to write about them, show the people how good the company is, sell them on that culture that you, yourself are invested in, but you need to take a step back and think about what the clients want to know. What are the articles you’re reading each day? What is of interest to you, as an industry expert? What are the things clients need your services for? If you are not an industry expert, not following all the relevant influencers in your field, then you need to be and you need to be viewing their insights from the client’s point of view. Inform clients of industry trends and updates, write about positive stories in which your brand has had an influence, but always be wary of the sales angle. Social media is about building relationships, rather than booking sales. The more you’re able to establish the first, the easier the second will become.
  2. Content that gets highly shared is content with heart. Real stories, real storytelling, actually getting to the humanity of something, rather than corporate messaging. All businesses affect the lives of real people, many in very positive ways, and these stories are gold. They are not only great to tell, but they show the genuine passion of your brand. If you can express that passion in an engaging way, you can create strong, shareable stories that will help expand the reach of your business, which has benefits across all aspects. Take time to think about different angles to your corporate stories, try and find the heart and humanity in what you do as a company and where your brand is able to help. And again, make it story first, corporate messaging second. You don’t need to sell to your clients straight up, you’re working to establish a connection, to communicate on a deeper level.
  3. Take time to engage in your online community. It’s one thing to use Twitter to respond to client concerns and queries, but you shouldn’t stop there. Look to have a presence on all social media platforms and in their respective communities, become part of them, participate where you can. You’ll often see a company representative drop into a conversation on Twitter or Facebook with no real introduction, saying ‘give me a call at *** and we can help you out’. This is not real engagement. You’re likely to build better customer relationships if you talk to people on a human level, offer advice and links to online articles (not necessarily your own company content) and show them that you’re the expert in your field. The opportunity to convert these contacts into clients will come, you don’t need to rush it. By being present and being a trusted part of the conversation, you will establish better relationships for ongoing business. And be honest and positive, at all times. Going online and trashing your opposition, using a half-truth to initiate a business conversation — these tactics do not benefit the establishment of ongoing partnerships.

As with anything, the approach you take will vary dependent on the industry, but the way to solidify your online presence, making your company more resilient to SEO algorithmic changes and enabling you to make best use of social media, is through the creation of engaging content and the establishment of trusted networks. It takes time and investment, but it will pay off, over and over again.

adhutchinson

Andrew Hutchinson

Writer/Consultant, adh

Andrew Hutchinson is an internationally published author, award-winning blogger and social media consultant from Melbourne, Australia. He has more than 12 years experience working in media monitoring, helping clients locate, evaluate and action keyword occurrences in all forms of traditional and digital media. He's also a Hootsuite Ambassador for the APAC region and one of the 'Best Thinkers' on leading social media news website Social Media Today. If you're looking for a writer for your business, or advice on how to maximise your digital media presence, please go to www.andrewhutchinson.com.au for more information.

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Comments

John Phanchalad
Posted on December 29th 2013 at 2:15AM

Great post.  I cant tell you how many times I've said it...Quality Content is the ONLY way to do SEO.  All the other little 'tricks' (and they are tricks) will come and go but Quality Content will stay the key.  

The reason is that Google wants to provide searches with great search results, help google with their task and they'll help you with yours.  It's really just that simple.

BarbaraP
Posted on December 29th 2013 at 5:29PM

This article contains very good suggestions for making content effective. I shared it with several groups.

Bernie Gollwitzer
Posted on December 30th 2013 at 6:25PM

Awesome comments and definitely hitting to the heart of the matter - people. One of my favorite quotes comes from Oprah Winfrey: ‘The secret of my success is a two word answer: Know people’. In the end, people have an inherent sense of a message that is sales driven vs. useful content driven. I am just surprised people still do things that are so blatantly self-serving and think they will benefit from it.

Alexandra Kalinina
Posted on December 30th 2013 at 7:44PM

I believe engaging and evergreen content can be presented in the form of Infographics, for example they can look something like this http://infographicdesignteam.com/infographic-harm-of-bad-infographics.html. Infographics as a good example of visual content bring a lot of likes, shares and backlinks to the site where it was posted, thus improving your SEO.

ChrisParente
Posted on December 31st 2013 at 2:03PM

Nice piece Andrew. I'd go one step further -- the changes Google is implementing are a boon for quality content developers, not a problem to be managed. I work in the B2B/B2G space, where it's quality over quantity promotion.

It's a fools game trying to outwit the Google algorithm -- companies need to project their thought leadership in a compelling, interesting way. Do that well, promote appropriately through the social channels your prospects use and organic SEO will inevitably rise.

Simple to describe, definitely not simple to accomplish. For many of my clients this is a culture shift, and there is a significant time investment required by the approach you describe.

Merry New Year!

Daniel Wagner
Posted on December 31st 2013 at 3:50PM

In today's increasingly tech savvy world, search engines are wisening up to all of the sneaky little backdoor methods of increasing site traffic. The best policy will be (and should be) engagine content. I can't stress enough the importance of simply adding value for your customers. People don't have the time to engage with a site that is simply in it to sell.

There needs to be a relationship built; a trusting and engaging relationship between a business and its customers at every oportunity possible. Google's algorithm will always encourage and reward any behaviors which promote just that.

 

kamalxaviers
Posted on January 1st 2014 at 4:31PM

Asesome Post, Everyone knows Content is King but we still want readers to read our quality content and for that we need some Seo Tricks, And also social Sharin Etc.

Sujay Maheshwari
Posted on January 3rd 2014 at 3:53AM

Great article, Andrew. 

Content curation for user engagement is another great way to work on the above points. If you think about it, one is already doing it on Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn. However, if a platform like netcurate is leveraged and the contributor can express their viewpoint on the existing piece of content, that is a great value add showing your Thought Leadership, and I think this be the next phase of content engagement.

Thanks for sharing this article.

greykite
Posted on January 4th 2014 at 1:58PM

Interesting Andrew. 

Do you not think it's the SEO community that is making SEO more complex rather than Google (or Microsoft for that matter)? Every man and his dog has an opinion about Google's latest pronouncement but no two offer the same advice, or so it seems to me. So where does the complexity arise? Not with Google, methinks.

BTW, I agree 100 per cent with Chris' comment - It's a fool's game trying to outwit the Google algorithm ...

adhutchinson
Posted on January 5th 2014 at 6:20AM

Hi Mike,

No matter how you look at it, SEO is a legitimate, and largely beneficial, business process. Google is seeking to provide best quality service by giving people the search results they're after, rather than links to content that ranks well through an improper process. Most SEO practices work in accordance with Google and assist companies to improve their ranking, but there will always be those who seek to 'cheat' the system, which forces Google to re-evaluate and update their algorithms. 

Definitely, the bottom line is that producing great content and increasing your online presence and engagement will ensure your brand profile ranks well, as designed. There will always be an element, or awareness, of SEO required in your processes, but you and Chris are correct - Google are not who you're battling against. Their rules encourage you to produce and engage, which, ideally, should have benefits extending father than just SEO, while also assisting them in providing the best service to their users. 

Does the SEO community complicate those rules? I personally don't think so. Like anything, some are more reputable than others, and it also takes some time to test cause and effect for each change, so the answers aren't always available straight up.

Thanks for reading.

greykite
Posted on January 5th 2014 at 10:12AM

 Hi Andrew

You’re right - SEO, professionally executed, is completely legitimate. The problem remains that not all “SEOs” are legit – in my experience, a good number simply adopt the title and the result is ... well, complex. As you say, many are only out to cheat the system, even after the carnage of Panda, Penguin, Hummingbird et al.

I guess in the end it depends on how you define “the SEO community”. Include the self-anointed element and I stand by my statement; focus only on the professionals and I’m more open to being convinced otherwise. I wrote a post on my own blog a while back that tackled the issue full-on and was intended to encourage debate – take a look if you have a spare minute.

As you rightly point out, the SEO Grail should be the long-term effects of producing great content. Tools like Authorship should be in every content creator’s armoury in order to boost reputation and encourage engagement, and I aspire to those outcomes wholeheartedly.

Thanks for responding - always good to have a constructive discussion.