Just like the seasons, the world market, and practically everything else on the planet, the online world adheres to one undeniable fact, and it is that change is ever constant. Throughout the years web design has evolved progressively from text-based to Flash to HTML and CSS; and where there once was an endless cavern of repetitive and empty content placed generously and solely to generate site traffic, a new and ideal standard for content has been set, thanks to modern marketers finally realising the importance of SEO particularly content marketing, and the real threat of online extinction due to a little thing Google would like to call Panda.
To many the solution seems simple, and that is to write great content, but those who’ve tried know it isn’t as simple as that. It takes some skill and know-how which thankfully, many experts have been willing to share. Following are six key points to follow in not just producing great content but making sure it sells itself successfully to readers and viewers, from some of those who have experienced it most.
In an article from the Content Marketing Institute, award-winning content marketer Joe Chernov likens content to stock in cooking- it is the building block ingredient for almost all of a company’s “dishes”. With this in mind, quality content should take top priority, and to get quality content you need quality writers, quality sources, etc.
But what is quality here? Such an abstract term cannot be fully determined especially across different topics, industries, goals, etc. but Peter Meyers of SEOmoz outlines a few guidelines for great content, which essentially states that it should be:
To accurately determine the “greatness” of your content, Meyer adds that you shouldn’t just listen to the good feedback, but the bad as well. These will help you rethink and edit your content appropriately. As tedious as this sounds, it could be well worth the effort, as Meyer says, “content that people will come back to time and time again usually didn’t get written in one draft.”
Anything of excellent quality of course, does not come free. You need to invest in good writers and invest a certain amount of time for writing, researching, editing and marketing your content. Search Engine Land contributor Marty Weintraub adds, “don’t be afraid to spend some well planned cash on Facebook Ads, press releases or even Adwords to promote occasional posts that are brilliant.”
A fatal mistake most people make is forgetting their audience. Web content strategist Ahava Leibtag has seen this one too many times, noting that most people “seem more inclined to spend money and time on content that they want to see, not that [which] will appeal to their potential customers.”
This isn’t to say of course that whatever you write or post has to be all technical and completely detached from you. Weintraub writes that content still needs to be fun and creative to set it apart from others, and that includes adding your own personality and experiences to it when applicable. Personal touches, things like human-interest stories almost always grab the attention of readers and viewers, and are shoo-ins for widespread sharing. Just make sure to also make it easy for your viewers to share, by placing social buttons to like your content on Facebook, follow on Twitter or share in Google +1.
Meyer words the laughable conundrum of this point precisely: “The great irony of content marketing is that you have to market it.” So many people forget that this is essentially marketing, and just putting great content on your site doesn’t immediately equate content marketing success. As the term itself clearly shows, content is just half of it, the marketing side still needs to be acted upon.
According to Content Marketing Institute contributor Russ Henneberry “content must be distributed and marketed properly to gain traction,” this means reaching out to people and letting your content strut its stuff for the whole world to see. To do this, Meyers suggests contacting people through a variety of ways- tweet, IM, email, call if you have to- and to time your launch properly and keep people posted. He adds that a marketing plan including hitting your social media outlets, actively building links, doing guest-posts on relevant sites and the like as well as posting your content elsewhere can do wonders and just might push your content over to the viral side.
Like every good thing, content needs ample time to reach some level of success. “If you believe your content is great, give it a chance,” says Meyer, “It could catch on because of a guest post, a well-placed link, an interview, or any of a hundred factors that happen in the days and weeks after the content goes live.” And don’t jump to conclusions based on your number of visits. Weintraub states that even 25 visitors a day is a good start, as this can lead up to over 9,000 in a year and who knows? Maybe even tens of thousands every month. The key is to think long term, to always think of ways to improve and eventually, success will come and stick with you. It’s not an easy wait, but the results will be worth it.
“No matter how much content you produce, it’s never enough,” says Brainshark content marketing specialist Paula Crerar. Audiences are varied and numerous and content needs to be the same to keep up with its audience. Weintraub agrees, stating that recurrent content, particularly when published 3 times or more a week eventually gets the attention of search engines and social sites.
Lastly, learn from your mistakes. Meyer writes that “failed content still carries valuable information, and you can build the next piece of great content on top of it.” And if all else fails, you can always turn to a professional SEO company for help.
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