May 2, 2012
Corporate history is littered with the bodies of dead phrases, such as “low-hanging fruit” and “mission critical.” (If these two aren’t dead, they should be.) Phrases that are quickly latched onto by the corporate world are typically repeated ad nauseam until they lose any meaning they once had and disappear after serving as a punch line in a Dilbert cartoon (goodbye “synergy,” it was nice knowing you).
One phrase that continues to cling to life, especially related to web development, social media, and email marketing, is “Content is King.” This phrase, referring to the creation of desirable, relevant content being the path to success, has a foothold that it doesn’t appear to be in any danger of slipping out of, most likely due to having actual meaning. Not only is good content required to engage your existing audience and attract new readers, but it is also necessary for the success of your search engine optimization (SEO) efforts.
Matt Cutts from Google stated in an SEO video article (see below) how good content is vital to successful search engine results. According to Matt, Google continuously updates Googlebot, which is software used to collect documents from the web to serve as the foundation for Google’s search engine. These updates increase Googlebot’s intelligence so that it is more likely to find quality, compelling content for search engine users. Matt says that, in reference to SEO and HTML techniques, you can “do brain-dead, stupid things to shoot yourself in the foot,” but if you have good content, then Google wants to return it. Matt states that Google makes “it so you don’t have to do SEO, and we still find the good content.” If search engine intelligence continues to increase and the sources of content that is available to users continues to expand, companies should begin to consider another well-known phrase – “quality over quantity.”
Content may drive traffic and search engine rankings, and keyword-riddled articles posted four times a day might be great for SEO purposes, but how long will your audience continue to read them? Even though content may be king, its kingdom of readers may quickly diminish if companies don’t find a balance between quality and quantity. Quality content is necessary in all aspects of business, from product brochures and websites to social media and public relations. Messaging should be concise, relevant, and engaging if companies want to elevate its information to content royalty. For this to occur, quality writers must become valuable assets in every company, either as a member of their staff or from an outside agency. The Bureau of Labor Statistics is already predicting a trend of escalating technical writer employment, stating that employment for this position is expected to grow by 17% between 2010 and 2020.”
I don’t want to generalize, but my experience is that a good writer is an underappreciated asset. Most companies seem to believe that writing is a skill that any employee possesses as a secondary ability to their primary job function. Most people can write, but can they write well, and if not, does it matter? It should. The ability to clearly and concisely communicate ideas, instructions, or sales propositions to potential or existing clients is invaluable in helping to establish an understanding. Complicated or convoluted language can cause you to lose or never establish that understanding, which can result in the loss of an existing or potential client and possibly search engine ranking.
Intelligent and concise writing is poised to make a comeback in the very near future as the importance of good content continues to grow and its impact on a company’s online identity increases.