Why Content Matters
To say that content matters seems so self-evident that it should be axiomatic; it shouldn’t require proof or even public statement. Content, whether in print or on online, is about communication, not the act of communicating, but the what that is being communicated. If the what doesn’t matter, why bother?
A very good question, since in my view, with the explosion of media via Facebook, Twitter, and dozens, if not hundreds of social media outlets, and with billions of people walking and driving while looking down at tiny screens, it seems there is a huge outpouring of communication with relatively little value in the casual content. For those dwindling few of us who can remember when meaningful communication required the purchase of a stamp at the Post Office and a trip to the mailbox, or incurring the greater expense of a long distance phone call, it appears to me at least that greater effort and premeditation was given to content.
So if providing value in the content of our communication is not axiomatic nor universally true and we babble, with little of importance to convey, when does content matter?
Content matters most in purposeful, goal-directed communication
My short answer is that content matters in purposeful, goal-directed communication; when we are attempting to achieve something of value, whether that be to gain support, to persuade, to be understood, to influence the attitude or behavior of another human being without initiating the use of force. Such purposeful communication requires forethought, a clear statement of our position or opinion, and some kind of rational, coherent development of our arguments in favor of our position. This is especially true when we put our thoughts in writing, where they remain a semi-permanent record of the strength, weakness, or outright idiocy of our position, opinion, or proposition. Putting something in writing imposes a higher level of accountability for what we put out for consumption in the public domain.
The internet, and especially search engines and their arcane ratings systems gave all of us a megaphone to sell our ideas, messages, products and services to a much wider audience, if we can outshout all of the competing messages. If we sell widgets, and someone has widgets on their mind and enters the keyword “widget” into their search engine browser, we want to make sure our firm comes up first in the hopes that we will capture the sale before our prospects move on to other offers. So “search engine optimization” came into existence.
Faking good content
Articles that contained in-depth information on widgets would come up higher in the ratings than similar articles that didn’t use the exact word widget, or didn’t use it as often as our article. And that is when keyword stuffing came into existence, as a shortcut to game the system and fool the search engines into “thinking” that phony articles stuffed with keywords were providing a value that wasn’t there. These articles were short on useful information and long on meaningless repetition of certain words and phrases. Search engine users looking for honest information were cheated, and the value of the search engines themselves was devalued. I find it fascinating that an entire industry mushroomed into existence almost overnight in an effort to fake valuable content.
Writing is one of the last remaining artisanal crafts. It derives from a vast exposure to the intricacies of the richest language on earth and life experience. One cannot write well without the capacity to think analytically and organize knowledge. It doesn’t hurt to be observant and have a certain sense for why people do what they do. It is a rare writer who can combine all this with a lifetime of experience with all levels of business organization and systems. This is an important benefit I bring to my clients.
I certainly understand the proper use of keywords as part of a successful marketing strategy, but I will never con or defraud your readers. The keywords used will truthfully reflect the intention and benefit of the content.
The best writers don’t fake value; they provide it.