You hear the term “content marketing” everywhere these days, but I don’t think a lot of people really understand what it means or how valuable it can be to their business.

Companies might recognize the value of search engine optimization — so that potential customers searching for your services can find your company — but what few realize is that one of the best ways to increase your SEO is by consistently adding fresh, relevant content to your website.

Valuable Content

Content marketing is not the same thing as adding random information with the right key words. It means knowing what your customers care about, what they search for.

The great thing about this kind of content is that it can also do double duty for you. Not only will such content help people find you online, but the same material can also be used in articles that go out in monthly newsletters and other communications with your existing customers. It offers value to people who already know your company.

Consumers Are Researchers

Consumers have become very adept at using Google to do research. Think of how much online research you do when you plan a vacation or any purchase. The same is true for your customers, whether they are individual consumers or business-to-business customers. They’ll almost always investigate your company before they contact you, reading review sites and paying attention to what people say about you on social media. I recently read a study that said 65 percent of business-to-business decision-making is now done before the customer ever talks to someone from your company.

When people visit your website, they aren’t always ready to pick up the phone or to make an order. Especially with higher dollar sales, it can involve a long slow process of building the relationship. Your online presence should help you nurture those leads and stay in touch with them.

Every Page is a Landing Page

It’s important to remember regardless of how you have designed your website, you don’t know how your target audience will come in or where they will go out. That’s why I always advise businesses to treat every page on your website as a landing page.

That means thinking about what will grab your target market’s attention on each page and how to nurture an ongoing conversation with them. It could be a form in the margin or an invitation to have a white paper sent to them. Think about what each page communicates to a visitor who has no idea who you are. Format your blog so your branding is clear, use the margin to promote products and services, and provide clear navigation back to your site.

It’s a Conversation

Deciding how much information to put on your website is a delicate balancing act. You want to give customers what they are looking for, but you also want to motivate them to talk to you directly, to take the dialogue into real life where the deal can actually be closed. Providing strong, fresh content to your website on a regular basis is an important way to keep that conversation going.