For a very brief time, content marketing was all about fooling search engine algorithms by simply repeating desirable keywords in order to rise in the Google rankings.

But that day has blissfully passed. You can’t slop your way to the top anymore when it comes to content marketing, thanks in large part to Google Panda and the general nose-holding over content farms.

And that’s good because the quality mindset aligns with the desires of most forward-thinking marketers who aren’t just looking to rack up hollow numbers. Forward-thinking marketers are all about engaging prospects in order to create quality leads for their sales teams. And, done properly, content marketing does that.

Reassuringly, a new survey from the Content Marketing Institute and BrandPoint backs up the notion that marketers are looking to create content for people, not spiders. Eighty-two percent of marketers in the survey said they place a high value on content written for people rather than search engines; 80 percent said they consider their content strategy to be focused on engaging content.

It’s been said that social media is a cocktail party. That means the most interesting people at the party – the ones invited back, the ones others look forward to interacting with, the ones who get the most mileage out of the cocktail party – are the ones who have something interesting to say. They are the ones who are most engaging. They are the ones who control the conversation – in a good way.

Content targeted at search engine spiders is like the blowhard at the party who just keeps repeating the same inane thing. No thanks.

Creators of quality content are the people you want at your cocktail party. Quality content creates a higher level of conversation that companies can have with their customers, whether that conversation takes place on social media, on a blog or website, or in email newsletters. It demonstrates expertise and a willingness to share that expertise.

It shows your prospective customers that you care about more than just selling them something. It shows that you’re looking to help them understand what it is they’re buying.