I know I know: Content is king! You’re already sick to the back-teeth of hearing it. You’ve made your content, you know your target audience — you just want to build some links and get some darn traffic to that content, am I right? Not to rain on your parade, but what if your content really is trash? Will anyone actually link to it? If it is subpar, then probably not, and trying to build links to it will be a colossal waste of time. I’m borrowing this saying from a giant in the SEO field, Ryan Stewart:
If you don’t have anything of value to say, don’t say anything at all
Only create content which will be of real value to people. If you provide, true, honest value in your content the audience will love you. Don’t hold back! Don’t worry about things like “does providing free stuff devalue my service?” “what will people think?” or “but I’m embarrassed about appearing on video…” None of that matters. The more value you can provide online, the more likely you can strike a chord with your audience and the more likely they’ll come back again and again. And if you can turn your audience into a community of loyal fans it’ll work wonders for your company or brand.
Define Your Goals
Your overall marketing goal should be ranking everything you have on organic search. If you can do that, you’ll have a long term, steady stream of traffic going straight to your site — and once there, you’ll barely have to lift a finger to keep it there. But before we can get there, here’s a few things you need to do first:
Why Do You Need the Content?
Is it for traffic? Reach? Customers? Branding? Depending on your answer, it’ll affect the type of content you create and where you distribute it. For instance, if you want to rank on organic search, you’ll need large content pieces (1000−1500 words+) which are very insightful and informative. But, if you want to build a social following, this requires, shorter, opinion type pieces, which will be shared on social media. So, define your goals to determine the exact type of content you need.
Who are Your Audience?
Make sure you’re creating it for the right people. So think about:
- Who are they? What do they do for a living, how much money do they make?
- Where do they hang out online? What kind of sites do they read?
- What does “value” mean to them? What kind of pain points need to be addressed?
Key Things to Bear in Mind
Whether it’s yourself, or you have a team in place, you need a good, streamlined way of creating content. In addition, some key points to bear in mind:
- Narrative — your content needs to be able to tell a story, and engage with an audience.
- Expertise — you really will have to inject some industry knowledge or be willing to do extensive research to create content that’s advanced enough.
Content That People Will Engage With
Not every content piece will be a hit, believe me, even I have experience of this. But the more content you make for your brand, the more you’ll learn about what works…and what doesn’t. There are many ways to generate ideas:
- What info is your audience looking for? Industry forums and Quora.com is great for ideas. Use the threads with the most views/comments and generate a list from this.
- Have you/your company done anything cool? Could be any range of things, from developing a new product, to a charity event — it’s all content that people will want to read about.
- What’s in the news lately? Is there something in the news, or some recent trend that you can relate to your own business or product?
Proper Keyword Research
Don’t overdo the keyword research part. A lot of people obsess over this and spend far too much time on it; it’s not as complicated as you may think. See where your audience hang out, the kind of words/jargon they use, subject matters they discuss, etc. Use this to generate keywords and even use Google’s suggested keywords to come up with more ideas. The Keywords Everywhere browser plugin is great for finding the keywords with the most search volume. And funnily enough, when you start writing truly valuable content, you’ll be naturally including these keywords anyway, so this part really won’t be the difficult part! This ties into the idea of where keywords are now going: keyword intent. In a nutshell what this means is, assessing if the intent of the keyword you’re trying to target, is actually going to be useful to your business, in terms of driving just the right type of traffic to your site. So in other words, optimize your content in terms of what the searcher is looking for, rather than trying to look for individual keywords.
Choose Your Content Types
The format you choose can play a huge role and you could have a mixture of any of the following:
Short Form Posts
E.g. Q & As, review posts. Even something as simple as a stickied forum post, or a Quora thread could be a method of sharing content and driving traffic
Visually appealing way of displaying and summarizing content or sets of statistics. Also a quick and easy way for someone to display the content and attribute a link back to your site.
Great way to communicate with your audience, and if you want to utilize YouTube it’s a necessity. Also, the majority of your competitors won’t be using video content effectively. The reason is, it’s harder and requires more effort — but don’t let that put you off!
Long Form Posts
E.g. round ups, in-depth articles. A great way to discuss a complex issue within your industry. However, you need to have evidence and data to back up your claims.
Good for B2B marketing. Can also be embedded within posts and particularly shareable on LinkedIn.
(Like this one!) Perform well in every single industry and in any channel. Rank well and (if written well) can earn you a lot of links.
Repurpose Repurpose Repurpose
And once you’ve created this content, there’s nothing to stop you using it in multiple ways to get the best use out of it and spread its reach. For example, if you film a video, you could create a PowerPoint and share the slideshow on LinkedIn. But you could also transcribe it into written format and create a blog post. You could then summarize all the main points and hire a designer to create an infographic.
Optimizing Your Content
I’ve said it once, but I’ll say it again: you definitely don’t want to ignore your on-page SEO. Make sure this is on point and you can capitalize on it even further when you do start building links to those pages. You also want to optimize the content in terms of improving the user experience. That means:
- Keep your URL structure short, and with the keywords in it;
- Make the content easy to navigate (should be able to navigate to it from the home page, in under 4 clicks);
- Write good, enticing titles with your keyword;
- Don’t make your content too wordy! Should be easy to read, and broken up with images when appropriate;
- Keep the tone casual, keep sentences short and don’t write it like you’re writing a university dissertation;
- Don’t be a robot, don’t be afraid to show your personality in your content — people will love it and will respect you for it;
- And here’s a very key thing I want to end with: Don’t just write stuff for the sake of it, don’t write about something just out of necessity, write about things you are genuinely interested in and want to help people with.
If you write content with passion, your customer base will follow. Featured image via DepositPhotos.