How many times have you fallen for “click bait” headlines, only to realize a few seconds later that the article is just a lot of senseless information on a page loaded with ads and popups?  Everyone has done it and in turn gotten annoyed by their mistake.  From the marketer’s perspective (we’ll call this person “Mr. Clickbait”) is this scenario a good a bad thing?  The answer is mixed, but overall we’d argue Mr. Clickbait is failing to maximize his site’s potential.

Yes, Mr. Clickbait managed to put his ad in front of potential readers (step 1) and had a compelling enough headline to get them to click the link and visit his site (step 2). However, where Mr. Clickbait failed is the third and most critical step to establishing an online presence: get them to stay on the site, visit other pages, and ideally come back again in the future. Sure, he may generate some minimal advertising dollars from advertisers paying per impression (i.e. every time someone simply sees their ad they pay), but that’s about it.  He failed to capitalize on this person visiting his website, by either strengthening his brand or improving his site’s chances of showing up in organic search results.  He hasn’t established any customer loyalty or encouraged anyone to share his site with their friends.

Below are three reasons why great content is the key to establishing an online marketing presence:

Site Visitors Are Smart!

Having a site that attracts people but has bad content is akin to mixing a bunch of gross food into the shape of a cake and putting icing on it so it looks pretty.  Sure it’s going to attract people to dive in, but as soon as they take one bite they’re going to put it down and not want anything to do with it.  Your site is the same way – as soon as visitors realize your site is boring or fake, they’re going to click the “x” at the top of the browser and take their attention elsewhere.  Worst of all, they’re not coming back.  You’ve lost your opportunity to get them to visit other pages on your site and potentially become a customer.  Now they’re going to associate your brand with your weak site and thus think you’re not worth purchasing from!  You’ve lost a potential customer due to bad content.

Sharing is Key to Organic Growth

These days, most people have a social media account of some sort, whether its for personal or business use.  Social media can be an excellent tool for attracting people to your site without paying a ridiculous amount for advertising.  You’ve got millions of people, each with several people already “following” them, waiting to look at something they post or share.  If you create content that adds value to someone, they are more likely to share it on social media, instantly placing your site is in front of exponentially more people without paying for extra advertising.  This ultimately will lead to more people visiting your site, and if the content is really good, sharing it with their followers too.  But that’s the catch!  Nobody shares bad content or boring websites, so make sure you’ve got something intriguing enough to get people to share it organically.

Search Engine Optimization Requires Great Content

Having a mechanism for driving people to your site is an important aspect of online marketing, but you must have intriguing content once people get there or your impact will be minimal. Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is the process of getting your site to show up when people search for topics that you want your brand to be associated with. This is another way that great content can get your company in front of people without paying for advertising dollars. Studies have also shown that people psychologically trust brands that show up higher in search results because it makes them seem more legitimate and professional.  You absolutely want your site showing up near the top of people’s searches for the topics you want your brand / product(s) / service(s) associated with.

So how does great content improve SEO?  Search engines utilize algorithms to determine which sites are most likely to have the right information that the searcher is looking for.  There are many factors involved in those algorithms, but some of the key ones they track are (a) how many people visit the site, (b) how long they stay on the site, and (c) how many “inbound links” there are to your site (i.e. other locations where people reference your site.)  These factors tell the search engines that your site is (a) intriguing, (b) has relevant information to the searcher, and (c) is credible/interesting enough that somebody wanted to reference it or share it with others.  Thus, to get people to stay on your site, reference it, or share it with others, you must have great content!

In conclusion, content is key to establishing an online presence.  Even if you manage to drive people to visit your site, bad content will cause them to leave quickly, develop a negative association with your brand, and not return.  Great content will get them to stay on your site once they’re there, share it with other people, develop a positive association with your brand, and potentially return to your site again.  These are all critical factors in successfully generating an online presence and converting site visitors to potential customers!  Tune in for the next article in my series, How to Make a Content Creation Strategy.