In the world of search engine optimization there’s always something keeping us on our toes, and usually it’s Google. Over the years, the search engine has matured with algorithms that have become more intelligent. This bring us to the point today where the rules of SEO have changed. We’re no longer focused just the basics, like keywords and link building, but also elements like relevance, authenticity and value – and yes, search engines have become capable of assessing this type of information.

For the modern business, all of this means that content has become more important than ever for SEO. You’ve probably heard more times than you care to recall that content is king. Today, that seems like an understatement. If you haven’t already, now is the time to refocus your digital marketing efforts on revving up your content strategy and here are a few reasons why.

First, What Is Content?

Before we get too deep into why content should be the central focus of your SEO strategy, maybe we should take a step back and talk about what exactly we mean by “content”.

When most people hear the word they immediately think of blogs. While blogs are a major type of content for many businesses, there is definitely a lot more to it. As a broad definition, content is essentially any type of information that helps you connect with your audience. It conveys your brand message and delivers the quality of your value to your customers.

More technically, content refers to any type of media that your audience can consume and leverage to form an impression about your brand. In addition to blogs, content can include any textual element, video, images, infographics or audio components.

What this means is that everything from the intro on your webpage to the sales images you send out via email or the short videos you post on social media are all considered content. The fact that content is so varied makes the art of optimizing it for SEO slightly more complex.

Why Content Is So Important for SEO Today

Now let’s get down to the nuts and bolts of why content should be the central focus of your SEO strategy. While the idea that quality content is critical to your digital success is nothing new, there have been some changes in the digital marketing landscape recently that have put content at the forefront once again.

We can find part of the reason behind Google’s most recent updates to their algorithm. In the past, content was viewed as a vehicle for other SEO elements. By this we mean that content was used to place high performing keywords or quality links within Google’s line of sight so that it would view the site more favorably and hopefully give it a decent ranking in search results. Basically, it was all about appealing to Google.

Today, Google doesn’t want to the be the focus of your content creation – they want you to focus on your audience instead. Recent changes in ranking algorithms are placing less weight on keywords and other old standbys and more weight on the value that your content is providing to your audience.

For example, in the past a business might have created something that could be considered a “fluff” piece just for the purpose of shoving in a few keywords and publishing it on social media. Today, this approach won’t win you any awards. Google’s algorithm implies that keeping users happy is priority one, and that means creating content that provides real value.

For businesses that want to succeed with SEO, there needs to be an increased focus on creating quality content that resonates with their target audience. This involves learning more about their demographics, who they are and what their behaviors are. For businesses that spend minimal time on content creation, being successful today is going to require an investment in more resources.

Creating Content That Performs

In order to develop a content centered approach to SEO, you first need to understand what features make content more valuable to your audience and consequently more attractive to Google. This all begins with the realization that your audience is digitally overstimulated.

It’s currently estimated that the average American spends about 24 hours a week online. Considering that so much of that time is voluntary, some businesses consider it a hard sell to say that their audience is overstimulated. After all, if that were the case wouldn’t they just log off? Not exactly. They have so much digital stimuli coming at them, that they’ve grown fatigued and intolerant of content that does nothing except take up space and their time.

What they want instead is content that performs. This is why high quality content that’s useful and informative wins out. What Google wants to know is how the content you’re offering is more valuable and engaging than the stuff your competitor is putting out and they’re going to give priority ranking to the content that does the best job of proving itself.

The Rules of Content Optimization Have Changed

Ok, so you know that it’s not enough to just put a new spin on an industry blog you’ve seen floating around. You need to create content that is unique and valuable to your target audience. But is that really all there is to it? The short answer is no.

The purpose of your content is important but so is how you present it. Take for example how the increase of internet traffic from mobile devices has changed the way we format content. Just imagine trying to read an endless block of text on your smartphone screen.

You’d probably give up before you got through the first paragraph. Shorter paragraphs that are easy to consume have become the standard for content format.

You also have to keep timing in mind. How long does the average visitor spend on your website? You don’t want to plop a 10 minute video on your site if very few of your visitors are likely to stay around to watch it. While quality content can help them stay around a little longer, you still need to keep the fleeting actions and attention spans of your audience in mind to avoid seeing your exit rates climb – a metric that’s bad for SEO.

Content has been and remains one of the most important elements of your search engine optimization strategy. What we’ve talked about here only just begins to touch on the subject. As an SEO company we’re committed to generating results for businesses just like yours. We’re a team that offers a full range of SEO services. Schedule a free consultation with a J2O Designs SEO expert today and let one of our SEO consultants tell you all about what we can do for your content strategy.