Although many businesses now recognise the importance of regularly updated content to their search engine optimisation (SEO) efforts, not enough of them understand the importance of quality content.
This is apparent from many of the badly-penned blogs, rubbishy ‘news’
stories and plagiarised or simply stolen articles that the web is
gradually filling up with.
Many companies fill their sites with scraped posts, barely literate articles and keyword-stuffed nonsense in the hope of attracting Google’s attention, so I wanted to take a look at just what this sort of behaviour is doing to your brand; how it’s affecting the customer experience.
If you’d like some tips on writing well for SEO, you might want to read my recent post 21 On-Site SEO
Tips You Can Give to Your Online Copywriter. There’s some good discussion in the comments too.
Your content is for search engines, not humans
Google is clever, but it isn’t a person. Filling your site with utterly useless but unique and keyword rich content will sometimes drive traffic through the search engines and onto your pages, especially for less competitive terms.
However, lots of companies seem to forget that, after they’ve risen in the Google ratings, they need to actually appeal to the individuals who have clicked onto the site.
If the content isn’t useful, doesn’t immediately direct them to something useful, or is badly written then they will leave and your efforts have been wasted.
Don’t forget that well-written articles and interesting, useful content attracts inbound links, which will help you in the search engine results far more than keywords alone.
Your content is badly written
I hate writing this because it’s an invitation for people to start proof-reading my own work!
However, in the rush to publish frequent content, many companies lose sight of the importance of quality and simply churn out articles.
Obviously there will sometimes be typos, that’s true even of the national newspapers, but a shoddily written article will alienate the visitor and make the company look unprofessional.
There’s a bit of a debate about whether or not it’s worth optimising for typos that are frequently made, for example ‘search egine optimisation’.
Personally, I tend to think this makes it less likely that people landing on your pages will move forward to use your services, as you’ll simply look too slapdash.
Your content is dull dull dull
To be honest, this is partly an extension of my first point. If you’re publishing articles simply to raise yourself in the rankings and without any concern for the hapless reader, then your content is likely to be tedious.
As an industry insider, you have the opportunity to create a trove of knowledge, guides, analysis and advice.
Such informative content would be naturally rich in your chosen keywords, it would be useful to your potential clients, it would attract inbound links and it would cement your position as an industry authority.
Dull or useless content will damage your brand in the eyes of the visitor. Take the time to create quality articles and they’ll work much harder for you.
Your content is irregular or non-existent
A couple of years ago, there was an eruption in blogging. Thousands of well-known brands leapt onto the bandwagon and it seemed every online firm in the world was battling it out for blogosphere recognition.
Then people realised it took time and stopped updating theirs.
Now, there are few things that put me off a website more than a blog that hasn’t been added to since 2007.
Subconsciously, I make all these assumptions about the company – it’s lazy, it’s not in control of its marketing, it’s cutting back on spending…
To be honest, I think it’s better to lose a blog entirely than have one that’s completely inactive.
Your content is just advertising
Of course I don’t mind advertising in the right place. A company’s website is where it advertises its products and services, nothing wrong with that.
However, sometimes a brand can be damaged by advertising in the wrong place. You can offend your reader by promising a certain kind of content and then failing to deliver value.
Oh, it’s fair enough to mention products and services, of course, but you need to offer something else.
For example, if I click on a guide to beating insomnia and all it contains is a relentless pitch for memory foam mattresses, I’ll be annoyed. I didn’t agree to be advertised to, I wanted useful information on sleeping aids.
One of the points could have mentioned a new mattress, even a memory foam one, but it needs to go beyond that, that’s why I’m reading a guide and not a brochure.
Failing to respect the visitors’ expectations and intentions is an easy way to gain a bad reputation.