Create compelling content that people will want to engage with
If you’ve decided to use content marketing to increase your online visibility, there are a number of things you should consider. The first one we’ll look at is quality, as this is an important component of a successful inbound campaign. But what is quality content and how do you create it?
Content is overwhelming the internet. It’s everywhere. There’s far more of it than we can consume. Anyone, anywhere can now publish content; it’s easy, quick and cheap (even free). And we’re increasingly being bombarded with marketing messages dressed up as ‘content’ in the same way we were previously bombarded with advertising.
That doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t produce content. It simply means that you need to ensure that your content is of the highest possible quality. (For this article, I’m mainly talking about textual content, but the same rules apply – to a greater or lesser extent – to any other content you decide to create.)
How do search engines judge quality?
Search engines have become very good at ranking sites on quality. Your content should, therefore, take account of these three principals:
If you’re going to discuss a topic, go into it in depth. Search engines can tell if your content only contains the buzzwords, so make sure you cover all the relevant areas. Use ‘content clusters’ and a variety of related terms.
Don’t just write three lines and assume that will do. Search engines will be looking for decent length articles… current trends put pages containing around 1,000 words in the top-ranking results.
Your content should be easy to read and to understand. Avoid using jargon or obscure acronyms, and don’t assume that your readers will have industry knowledge.
Also, make sure that your content is well-structured. For example, if you’re writing a blog post, try using this simple, three-section structure:
- Start with an introduction that clearly lays out what you are going to say and why it is of interest to the reader.
- For the main body of the article, include concrete examples and case studies, where appropriate. Maybe you could present a problem and suggest solutions (don’t be afraid to give an opinion).
- In your conclusion, you could suggest sources for further reading. It’s also here that you can try to open up a relationship with the reader with a call to action that invites engagement.
Make sure the experience of reading your article is a good one. Don’t bloat the page with adverts or distract people with intrusive calls to action. Use relevant, good quality illustrations, and plenty of them.
Part of a good experience is consistency. If you’re only going to blog once every six months, for example, this will also work against you in rankings. If readers know that you are a regular source of quality content, they are much more likely to come back.
How do I create quality marketing content?
Don’t just create content because you can. You should have something you want to say and you should believe that you are the person/company to say it. If you’re not passionate about it, it will show.
Equally, don’t just call on the nearest intern to google a topic and then write about it. These kinds of “me too” articles don’t rank well, either. Think about what kinds of resources you have at your disposal and use these internal sources of expertise to help you produce quality content.
So, now you are ready to create good quality content and eager to get started. But don’t just dive straight in and start writing the first thing that pops into your head… be prepared, make a plan!
Start with some basic market analysis. You didn’t start your business on an idea sketched out on the back of an envelope, you did some research to see if what you wanted to sell has a market. The same should be true of your content. Consider these points when deciding what you’re going to say:
What do your clients need to know?
Put yourself in your customers’ shoes. What challenges are they facing? Who are they and what are their concerns? Answer people’s needs and satisfy their curiosity.
What do you know?
What subjects do you have authority in? What has your experience taught you? What triumphs and tragedies could you share that will help others?
What’s the point?
How does what you want to say relate to other people, other businesses? Look at how your content can dovetail with other people’s so that you can capitalise on a wider conversation. How can you use the content you are going to produce in your overall strategy?
Map out a schedule for what you’ve decided to produce, create a list of topics you’d like to cover and what you have to say about them that’s original and relevant.
Now go out and ask your target audience if they would find it valuable. If you’re wrong, it’s not the end of the world – you’ve saved yourself hours of work that would have achieved nothing. Tweak your ideas based on the feedback you’ve received and adjust your plan. Then you can put it into action in the knowledge that you’re building something worthwhile.