We’ve written many blogs about the importance of content in contemporary marketing strategies - the ‘telling not selling’ principle which aims to engage prospects with interesting, informative, relevant, amusing, emotive or even challenging content. And it’s good content that not only provides the fuel for marketing campaigns, it is also key to improving your Google ranking. Google promotes good content and advises that it will always try to put the best, most relevant content in front of people based on what they search on and the quality of the content itself.

This is also referred to as ‘white hat SEO’ which means improving your search rankings while maintaining the integrity of your website and staying within the bounds as defined by Google themselves. There are no dark arts or shortcuts anymore with SEO and anyone trying to tell you otherwise probably shouldn’t be trusted. The way to get good SEO is by creating good content, not by adding millions of keywords or cramming your site with backlinks. The more “white hat” SEO-driven content you produce, the easier it will be for prospects to find you on Google.

 “While keywords are important, your first priority should always be to provide real value to your target audience. Always ask yourself if your content is truly informing them and helping them gain new insights about the topic. You can worry about working in keywords afterwards. When you write for the audience first, you’ll be able to work in keywords naturally, without detracting from the value of the content as a whole.” Maria Khramtsova, CEO FortuneZ.

Effective and considered content will help you stand out from your competition. It will engage potential clients and provide the information they need to help make decisions by presenting your business in the best light possible. Remember that most people, especially in B2B, don’t make knee-jerk decisions just because they saw an ad, unless it’s a bargain or a low value purchase. Most people will do their research by searching Google, comparing offers, checking the reviews and considering all the options available before making a decision.

And creating good content always pays off because, unlike ad campaigns, content will continue to exist on your website and on other channels long after you first publish it. High-value content often ranks on Google itself, serving as a lasting form of lead generation. Valuable and insightful content has the potential to keep delivering value for your brand long after you’ve written and forgotten about it. Creating quality content does require effort, but it’s an investment that will keep on giving.

In order to evaluate the return on that investment, it's important to look at what content gets the most views, comments and shares. This allows you to quantify the value of each type of marketing piece you publish to work out which types of content, what platforms and which formats are the most successful through trial and error. You can use your content to test specific ideas to learn what your target audience likes or doesn’t like. This will allows you to fine-tune the subject matter until you’ve got your content marketing optimised.

Content marketing really helps to establish and prove your credibility. Too many sites simply list the services offered assuming that’s all they need to demonstrate expertise, but the average prospect is going to need a lot more than that before they can trust you and consider engaging with you. Good case studies and client testimonials are a great start as they can demonstrate not only what you do, but how you do it and quality. If a customer is willing to stand up and say ‘these guys did a great job’ it’s worth a hundred times more than you saying it - because of course you’re bound to say that you’re great! And there are some things that are hard to say about yourself, especially service values, so again if a customer is willing to stand up and say ‘these guys a great job and they went above and beyond for us, worked late, solved problems, were under budget…’ this forms an even better impression.

So case studies are great, especially if you can really bring them to life in videos, but a prospect may have different needs to those satisfied customers. Content marketing offers a chance for you to share your opinions, insights, expertise and knowledge about your industry and you skill set. Expert opinion pieces on relevant industry topics is how your potential clients can really get to know you, your approach and what makes you different. Most importantly, worthwhile content gives prospects a compelling reason to do engage with you and,, ultimately to do business with you.