Content? Content. Content!

Content. This buzzword in the SEO space has grown to astronomical levels. As I speak with companies on a regular basis, they constantly tell me that they've been advised to write new and unique content by the boatload -- no matter the Web site or space they're in.

It's time we review the advantages of content, and where it may be applicable. Let's look at a few sites that will either need heavy amounts of content or little to no content.

These sites need content:

  • Affiliate sites, which typically add little to no value by simply copying from others. These sites need a specific value-add, to differentiate themselves from the rest of the pack.
  • Sites with heavy amounts of graphics, Flash, video, or any other site that may be difficult for a user requiring a screen-reading program to view.
  • E-commerce sites that use a set amount of content from a massive distributor, like Ingram Micro or Tech Data. Each merchant has access to the exact same data -- what makes your site different from the rest?

These sites don't need heavy amounts of SEO-specific content:

  • Sites with a large community of content contributors who spend a good portion of their time writing about the topics surrounding the subject matter of each site.
  • Sites that generate content on a regular basis, such as news sites or blogs.

Instead of trying to manipulate search engines, consider providing a way for your users, distributors and/or manufacturers to give you unique and well-written content. It's likely that they have written marketing materials that won't make it to their standard (and usually expensive) forms of distribution. This content could add a great deal of value to products and/or services that may be offered by many other online dealers with either the same or slightly different data.

When creating content, keep in mind that it can come in multiple forms -- services, contests, games, video, and even news . It's critical that the content is interesting and compelling, so it has the chance of being linked to by a "fan."

It's very important that if you offer a special guarantee, such as a price match, you honor it to any possible level. By having complicated terms that make it nearly impossible to use -- the Starwood Price Match Guarantee, for example -- you'll wind up upsetting your client base. While you may get links to your site, it will hurt your reputation.

It's also extremely important to have a "yes we can help" customer service attitude. Your loyal customers can be solicited to come back and write about their experience. This most important feature has helped companies such as eBay and Zappos.

The retail sector, such as stores like Best Buy, has lost this attitude. In many cases, no matter how small the request, they just say no. You wind up spending an enormous amount of time arguing with them that you're right.

However, if you buy the same product at a site like Zappos, with their very friendly customer service attitude, you'll be satisfied through the entire process and come back to buy more.

About the author

Aaron Shear is a partner in Boost Search Marketing, an enterprise-level global consulting firm. Offering expert advice to many of the most trafficked sites around the world. Aaron has been optimizing websites since the late 90's, and has provided hundreds of businesses with countless top SEO and SEM returns.

Previously Aaron was the Global Director of SEO with Shopping.com, an eBay Company. At Shopping.com Aaron spearheaded the global optimization efforts of Shopping.com, Dealtime and Epinions. Prior to that, Aaron was the CTO at SEO Inc., where he spearheaded optimization efforts with clients such as IGN Entertainment, VEGAS.com, Sierra Trading Post, Sony Motion Pictures, Archer Daniels Midland, and Alliance Business Centers Network.

Before becoming an SEO Aaron worked at Inktomi, as a Technical Account Manager, where he learned SEO from the creators of the search engines first-hand. Aaron's primary responsibility was managing client relationships such as MSN, IWon, Hotbot and HP to name a few.