More isn’t always better when it comes to content creation, but the quality of the content your company produces will always be a central focus no matter what the word count may be for a particular project.
Many seo’s and marketers today are trying (though in many cases begrudgingly), to align with Google’s new standard for quality content, which often proves easier in theory than it is in reality. The truth is not everyone is an exceptional content writer, and those who do have the skills to pump out quality content on a consistent basis are in high demand.
Though your company probably doesn’t have a truckload of money to offer a team of content writers, if you want to improve the quality of your content to achieve better search engine rankings, attract more website visitors and contribute to your bottom line, pay close attention to the following guide for creating winning content to attract more customers to your business.
Step 1: Define Measurable Goals
Before your company does anything with content marketing you need to determine the end goal for your campaign. Here are a few examples of goals you may have for your content marketing:
1) Increase brand awareness among your target audience
2) Create awareness around a certain product or promotion
3) Increase your list of email subscribers
4) Drive traffic to a landing page to generate sales leads
Though you may see these goals as similar, the tactics you’ll use to meet each goal will vary dramatically. The content you create for a landing page will be different from the content you create for an informational blog post, and content you create for your sales materials will be different from a product description on your website, so to be sure you’re creating the appropriate message you need to define goals before you begin.
Setting goals for your content marketing is a great start, but you also need to quantify each goal. If you’re trying to increase your email subscribers for example, your goal needs to specifically outline how many subscribers you want to add to your list and the timeframe for doing it. The key is to create goals that are time sensitive AND measurable. If your goals don’t meet those criteria you need to rework them until they do.
Step 2: Create Content Your Audience Likes to Consume
Once you’ve defined your content marketing goals it’s time to move on to the actual content creation. This is not a step to simply breeze over, because the type of content you publish will determine the type of visitors you attract to your site. The only way to pick the right type of content is to research the type of content your target audience regularly consumes. Think about these questions before you decide:
1) Does your target audience enjoy reading how-to guides?
2) Does your target audience enjoy long-form posts (1,000 words+), or short-form? (less than 500 words)
3) Does your target audience like reading short lists? (Greatest/Best/Top 10/5/3, etc.)
4) Does your target audience prefer info-graphics, visual guides and videos compared to text-heavy content?
The content you create needs to answer a question or solve a problem your customers have. Even if you’re trying to convince website visitors to buy a new product you need to explain how it will make their lives easier. Publishing content for the sake of content doesn’t amount to anything. Why waste precious time and resources producing content no one will find useful?
Step 3: Format Your Content AppropriatelyNo one likes to read thick blocks of text on a page in 2014. If you’re using content to capture the attention of your potential customers you need to add visual spice to supplement your text content. Some websites format their content really well, like this one. Other sites need to invest a little more time, like this one.
It’s getting increasingly difficult to impress customers with content, but research shows that media is the key. Even if your content is spaced out well it doesn’t attract the attention of readers unless there are a sufficient number of images, videos, infographics and other visual media present on the page. Though many content marketing experts recommend going heavy on text, you need to consider how likely it is that your customers will make it to the end of your content piece if it’s too long.
The ideal formatting structure consists of short lines of text (no more than 3-4 sentences per paragraph), a number of bulleted lists, graphs and tables, screenshots, and quotable, shareable and linkable excerpts of text. Also make sure you add images and videos in a way that is visually appealing. If you don’t know how to format your media, call someone who does and have them help you for a small fee. It will pay off in the long run.
Step 4: Focus on Grammar, Punctuation, or Invest in an Editor
No one, and I mean no one wants to wade through a piece of content that consists of grave spelling errors, punctuation problems, run-on sentences, and unclear ideas. If content writing is not your expertise, please hire a content writer to do the job for you. Because creating content is all about building authority and rapport with your target audience, poorly written content can come across as lazy, unskilled, careless and even downright incompetent. You often don’t get a second chance with content so you need to make sure you impress your readers right out of the gate.
Though creating readable content that actually appeals to readers is a challenge, realize there are various tools and resources that can help you perfect the written word. At Local 360 Media we love to use Ginger Software—a free program that allows businesses and individuals to scan entire documents for misspellings, punctuation issues and grammar errors. If you can at least put a few sentences together, programs like Ginger Software can take your content to the next level.
Step 5: Create a Story of Your Content
People who browse the web in search of accurate statistics, entertainment and useful information are rarely satisfied with the results returned by popular search engines. Why is that? Because too many content creators follow their competitors a little too closely, publishing information that is boring, mundane and exactly the same or almost exactly the same as other sites on the web. So what can your business do to remedy this situation?
The only way to attract visitors to your website and keep them coming back is to create a story of your brand and content. In case you didn’t fully comprehend what we said just there, allow us to repeat it again highlighting certain key terms. The ONLY way to ATTRACT visitors to your website and KEEP them coming back is to CREATE a STORY of your brand and content.
Everyone on the internet is either interacting with a brand they’ve already fallen in love with or they’re window shopping for the next original brand they can potentially fall in love with. If you don’t believe it just take a hard look at the most popular brands in every niche and industry in the world. The brands with a loyal following have figured out a way to connect with their audience like no one else can, plain and simple.
Our company follows brands like Moz and App Sumo because the founders and employees of those companies interact with us on a regular basis, constantly providing us with information that is useful. They’ve built entire communities of supporters, because every one feels like they matter. Those brands are also successful because they tell a lot of stories. You can take a look at one such example from Rand Fishkin’s blog on Moz, where he talks about his battle with depression, his company’s early struggles, and how ultimately it was the people in the Moz community that helped him get through it.
THAT is how you create winning content that stands the test of time. As soon as your content is humanized in some fashion you’ll have visitors for life. It doesn’t matter what type of stories you tell, just make sure they are real. Your customers can spot a fake from a thousand miles away.
Step 6: Get Social
Any seasoned content marketer knows their efforts to create winning content will be all for nothing unless they find influencers who are willing to amplify the content they produce. Though this is the last step on the list it may very well be the most crucial to the success of your business.
To begin you need to make sure you setup social accounts on the same social platforms your audience uses. Don’t go to Facebook to post just because you’ve determined everyone is on Facebook. Nearly everyone is on Facebook, but that doesn’t mean your customers are in a “buying state” when they use the social network. They may just want to spy on their friends and play Farmville.
Once you’ve done your research and you’ve identified where your customers are on social media, you have to focus on creating great headlines for your content to draw in visits. You also need to proactively promote your new content to make sure it reaches the broadest audience possible. Do some research on key influencers and find out what their interests are so you can target them with new content as well. The more your content is amplified, the more brand awareness you’ll generate. Your search engine rankings will also increase naturally as a result.
Content marketing is no easy feat, but with a little help from us and a little luck you can generate the type of results your company wants to see.
If you want to create great content that attracts new website visitors and appeals to your audience you need to define measurable goals, create content your audience likes to consume, format your content appropriately, focus on grammar and punctuation, create a story of your brand and use social media to amplify your content. If you follow those tips you’ll experience success with your content marketing efforts.