If Content is King, SEO is President...
Kings are everywhere. Many are called Edward, Henry or James, but the most famous is called Stephen. If they are not busy ruling the jungle or fighting to stay on top of the hill, mountain or castle, they might be lying in wait beneath a council car park. Like colds, rumours and budget-priced Romanian horsemeat, kings get around. But the ubiquity of kings should not belittle their importance.
In the realm of Search Engine Optimisation (SEO), content is undoubtedly king. Without content, websites are as vacuous as any argument in favour of real-world royalty.
Unless providing a very particular service for a very specific group of users, websites that have little or no content are functionally useless.
Uneasy Lies the Head?
Like real-life kings, content can be good or bad. Unlike real-life kings, however, good content tends to attract more attention than bad content. Readers want to be entertained and informed. Shoppers need to be impressed and cajoled. Content should be likeable, tweet-able and downright Google plus-able. More important, content must be readable by both a human and search engine robot audience.
These constraints place a heavy burden on website owners, who are responsible for producing content that is interesting, informative, persuasive and unique. The last requirement is particularly difficult.
Writing fresh, insightful commentary on subjects that have been covered a million times over is certainly not easy. Even specialised areas of the internet are crowded nowadays, so generating interest among users who have seen and done it all is a mammoth, if not king-sized, task. Impressing search bots adds another layer of complexity, not least because search engines such as Google penalise websites that utilise the services of so-called content farms, which generate a seemingly unending supply of cheap, low-quality content.
How can website owners succeed in a world that recognises so few genuine kings amid so many convincing impostors?
Call the President
There is a reason why relatively few monarchies survive today. Content may be king, but SEO is president. The two are not mutually exclusive and the line between good content and good SEO is fast disappearing. The internet has moved on from websites that make a triumph of "Hello World!" and other simple phrases. Search engines have moved beyond mass-produced content. Good content doesn't need SEO, but website owners need SEO to make their content appealing to search engines.
Website owners who aim to publish good-quality content must ensure that it is unique. Sometimes the same topic can be discussed in a different way, or for a different purpose. Unique in this context means fresh. And fresh means different and interesting.
Nothing stays new on the internet for long, so website owners must publish new or updated content on a regular basis. Aside from keeping readers entertained, an abundance of fresh content keeps the search bots busy. But new is only useful if the content is relevant. Publishers must identify and understand their target audience to produce relevant content; indeed, the right people should never have to read the wrong content.
Ultimately, SEO provides the link between content and its readership. Without SEO, content would be a king with no kingdom. ▼