We all know that marketing today leans heavily on using online content. We hear a lot about how “content is king” and that you need to have great content on your website (including your blogs and your Facebook page) if you’re going to pull in the kind of leads you really want.
That’s all true, but in addition to being great, your content needs to be real. What makes content real? Real content has real value to the person reading it. It’s not some “bait and switch” ploy to get readers to click on a link or visit your website or give you their email address. Real content provides helpful information or provides answers to legitimate questions that readers have. It doesn’t pose as something helpful only to trick people into a sales pitch.
Some companies try to “game the system.” They figure that if they put enough content out on the Web, Google or one of the other search engines will recognize them and they’ll stand a better chance of getting found. While there is an element of truth to that (Google does look for fresh, new content as part of their algorithm for ranking sites) it’s still a poor strategy. First of all, the folks over at Google are pretty smart cookies. They’ve managed to stay one step ahead of businesses that try to outsmart them and take advantage of their system. And their algorithms have become more and more “human.” That means they’re harder to fool.
The more important issue, however, is that trickery in marketing just doesn’t work—long term. You may trick someone into landing on your site once—but if you take that approach, you’ve probably alienated that customer before you really get a chance to build a relationship. People don’t like to be deceived. The very nature of inbound marketing is being transparent and non-invasive. If you’re looking for long-term relationships with customers you don’t want to begin that relationship with deception. You want a relationship built on trust.
Is it OK to link to your website or to offers in your content? Absolutely (we’re doing it in this post)! The question you have to ask yourself is if the content you’re providing is actually helpful. Is it real content, or is it just a ruse to get somebody to go to a place where you can make a pitch?
If you want to keep people coming back . . . keep it real!