SMEs discover why content is the king of online success

If you’ve ever had anything to do with the communications media, you will be more than familiar with the term “content is king”.

If you don’t, the term refers to the fact that no matter how good your technology, your management or your marketing, if you don’t have great content – i.e. the stuff people are viewing, reading or listening to – you won’t succeed as a publisher or broadcaster.

When it came to the online world, content became decidedly un-sexy as the technorati became obsessed with three other online “Cs” – connectivity (broadband), commerce (selling online) and community (the cornerstone of social media).

But as is often the way with technology, once the excitement of the new capability has died down, users ask – what now?

Compelling content is critical to continuation

Unfortunately novelty has a short shelf life, so before we know it, users start demanding ongoing reasons to continue to utilise that medium. That void is invariably filled by content.

This pattern is repeated time and time again with communications technology, from television, to video, to gaming and even to social networking.

Invariably too, the pundits that poo-poo the importance of compelling content often have to eat their words as they realise that the technology alone has a very limited shelf life.

Now there is growing evidence that great content is even more critical to success in the online world.

Even greater benefits of content

There are two key reasons for this. First the fundamental modus operandi of search engines is around the volume and regularity of credible content. The more content your website contains, the more search engines have to “crawl” and, in turn, rank in their search results.

Secondly, social networking fails altogether unless there is something to say or discuss. That something is fundamentally post-worthy content to engage and attract – for business customers new and old.

If that wasn’t already obvious with that other low cost viral opportunity – email marketing, social networking screams it from the rooftops.

But few SMEs are content capable

But as much as these media are free or at least cheap to adopt, their very content-dependent nature provides significant barriers for SMEs.

As we’ve raised in these pages before, the vast bulk SMEs are simply not accustomed to generating regular content.

In fact, as anyone who has created a website of more than a few pages knows, even extracting more fundamental content out of SME operators can be like pulling teeth.

Most have simply not had the need to create the volume of content that websites require to inform visitors and attract search engines.

So the notion of creating regular content about their business and its products or services is something they’ve never had to entertain before. Finding time to both learn how to do it and then fit it into an already full schedule is beyond all but the most organised and disciplined SME operator.

The benefits await

Those that do create compelling content gain multiple benefits:

  • Better prominence in search engine results.
  • More website visits.
  • More email subscribers.
  • More social networking “Likes” or connects.
  • More “viral” marketing.

All of which lead to increased enquiries, and in turn, sales:

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Next week this blog will turn theory into practice by shedding light on the steps required to create an effective ongoing content strategy.

In addition to being a leading eBusiness educator to the smaller business sector, Craig Reardon is the founder and director of independent web services firm The E Team, which was established to address the special website and web marketing needs of SMEs in Melbourne and beyond.

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