Let’s get this straight. Your website content should be written for your target audience. And if you do this right, then Google will reward you with relevant, profitable traffic.
In today’s world, good content just isn’t going to cut it. You need outstanding content. With each algorithm update Google is getting better at fulfilling searchers’ needs for relevant information.
So, how do you create fabulous content that Google likes and your target audience loves? Let’s take a look.
1. Define Your Conversion Goals (What’s Your Point?)
Before you put pen to paper (or fingers to keyboard), think about your end game. Do you want to spread the word about your brand, gain more customers, participate in industry conversation, or get more leads?
In order for content to be successful, you have to define who the guide is for and what you want it to do. You also need to figure out a way to measure those goals, whether you’re counting number of leads, newsletter sign-ups, social shares, or website traffic.
- Why am I even writing this?
- Who is this for?
- What would I define as a success? How will I measure it?
2. Pick a Relevant Topic
Before you start writing, you’ll need to pick a topic. Don’t just pick what you want to write about. The topic you choose should correlate with your goals. If you’re trying to attract leads, your content will be different than if you’re trying to retain existing customers.
Here are some things to think about:
- Keywords: What are people searching for? What are the most popular search terms?
- Existing analytics: Do you already have content on your website (maybe on your blog) that is performing particularly well? Why not turn that blog post into a full-length guide?
- Targent audience: If the content doesn’t resonate with prospective and current customers, what’s the point? When I wrote my company’s last guide, I used results from a customer survey we sent out to choose the subject.
- Competition: What else is out there? Have your competitors already published guides on the same subject? If you’re not sure you can produce a better one, consider choosing a different topic.
3. Provide Value
Passion and a skill for words are only two components of outstanding content. You could be the best wordsmith on the Internet but gain ZERO followers if your content doesn’t provide one thing to your audience: value.
Readers are drawn to content that benefits them. Luckily, there are many ways to provide value—it’s just a matter of identifying the benefits your audience wants, and then catering to those needs.
(Source: Flikr, ddesk)
For example, a home improvement business might provide helpful how-tos and DIY guidelines for their customers. A Web hosting site could publish tips for troubleshooting server problems or advice on common mistakes to avoid when setting up a website.
The idea is to cater to your customer demographics in a way that resonates with them and offers tangible value. Do this over and above your business’ specific products or services, and you’ll win loyal readers.
When you sit down to plan your content, consider your audience and ask yourself the following questions:
- Who am I writing to/for?
- What problems or questions do my customers have?
- Is there information or resources at my disposal that would interest or benefit my readers?
- What content is currently trending in my niche? Do I have anything to add to the conversation?
By answering these questions, you can begin to delve deeper into topics that are relevant and useful for your target audience.
4. Cite Sources
Opinion pieces have their place in the content world, but cold hard facts tend to resonate with readers. Data and statistics lend weight and credibility to your authority, increasing readers’ trust in you and your content.
Where possible, back up your claims with facts and stats from credible sources throughout your posts. You can also publish fact sheets—a type of post that’s especially appealing to readers who love to read small, digestible pieces of information all in one place.
Fact posts are also more shareable, as you can make each individual stat Tweetable or ready to share on Facebook.
5. Make it Newsworthy
The best content is often current and newsworthy. Instead of shooting in the dark, hoping your content ideas will stick, do some research. Identify trending topics within your niche as well as in broader media and pop culture.
(Source: Flickr, docoverachiever)
Then look for connections.
Ask yourself how different current events are relevant to your industry or niche. Sometimes the connection will be direct and obvious, other times you may have to get creative. But don’t let a loose connection deter you—it often leads to an original idea and more intriguing content for your readers.
People want to know how events will affect them in different ways. By relating your content to current events and trending issues, you make your content relevant and relatable to your audience.
6. Be Personal
The most powerful content makes a personal connection. Econsultancy found that 52% of digital marketers agree that “the ability to personalize content is fundamental to their online strategy.” While you don’t have to provide personal anecdotes or points of view for every post you publish, try to add a personal touch.
Readers like to know that there is a real person behind the words—don’t be afraid to draw back the curtain so people can see the wizard.
Here are a few simple ways to add personality to your content:
- Share a personal story or example to illustrate your points
- Acknowledge problems or frustrations you share with your audience (and ideally how you solved them)
- Write the way you speak
- Use second-person to address the individual (e.g., “you,” “everyone,” etc.)
Whether your blog is your business or one piece of your online content strategy, make a point of personalizing the message and reaching out to your target audience.
7. Optimize Everything
By now it should go without saying that you need to optimize all your Web content. However, don’t make the mistake of optimizing your site merely for the search engines.
While this is an important factor of optimization, if you aren’t taking into account the actual users, your efforts will be largely wasted. As you optimize your content, make sure it is also user-friendly.
- Include targeted keywords in your copy, titles, meta-descriptions, and tags
- Add calls to action after every blog post and promotional content
- Use high-quality images with optimized alt descriptions
- Craft winning headlines and engaging content
- Post content regularly
- Design intuitive (read: user-friendly) site navigation
- Decrease page loading time
Let’s talk about that last point for a moment.
According to Econsultancy, a whopping 40% of users will abandon a site if it takes more than 3 seconds to load. That means you have, realistically, fractions of seconds just to convince users to look at your site—let alone stick around and engage with it.
To ensure they do just that, evaluate your site.
Many of the steps I mentioned above (like optimizing images) will improve your load times. But also consider reducing the number of plugins you use and the number of redirects on your site (important if you use a responsive design for mobile users). Redirects increase HTTP requests, increasing page speed.
Additionally, make sure your Web hosting provider offers the right services. If your site gets a lot of traffic, lower budget hosts may not be able to accommodate you. There are many shared Web site hosting services as well as dedicated servers, like Midphase, that can handle higher traffic sites without compromising page speeds. Look for providers who offer the following packages:
- 99.9% guaranteed uptime
- 24/7 tech support
- Convenient upgrade options
These factors will ensure that you get the best service possible, and that your host will be able to handle any issues quickly and effectively, so your website (and traffic) don’t suffer.
8. Include Mobile Interface
According to Margin Media, 52%of users said they would beless likely to engage with a companyif themobile experience on their site was bad. And 48% said that if they arrive on a site that isn’t working well on mobile, they take it as an indication that the business doesn’t care.
(Source: Flikr, meedanphotos)
Clearly, mobile optimization is crucial if you want your website to stand out.
There are various ways to accommodate a mobile design, including responsive design or a separate mobile version of your site. Econsultancy found that 62% of companies that designed a website specifically for mobile had increased sales.
Various plugins are also available through WordPress, such as WPtouch Pro, which optimize your blog for mobile devices. Depending on your budget and needs, determine which option is best for you.
9. Go Deeper
Marketers and writers will tell you that the key to great content is originality. However, no one is completely original. That is why you can search almost any topic and find multiple resources and articles answering your questions.
While adding personality to your content can put some originality and life into your work, it is depth that can set your content apart.
When you plan your content, look for ways to delve into the information. Ask questions that don’t have intuitive or obvious answers—then try to provide those in a post.
For example, instead of writing about “5 Secrets to Good Business,” go more in-depth on a specific topic under that umbrella. Like, “How to Use Text Marketing to Promote Your Small Business.”
Be sure that you then provide information that is thorough, specific, and useful for your audience. Don’t patronize your readers with obvious information or statements. Instead, cater to their needs by giving them valuable information they can’t easily find somewhere else.
Not only will this attract a loyal following, but you will establish yourself as an authority online and an expert in your field.
And that is good for business.
10. Consider your buyer persona?
A buyer persona is a distinct group of potential customers, an archetypal person whom you want your marketing to reach.
~ David Meerman Scott
You may target one buyer persona, or a few. You also may need to consider potential job seekers or the press when you’re designing your website. Make sure you know who you create your website for. Unless you know who they are and what they care about, you can’t produce content for them.
Introducing content dedicated to buyer personas can massively increase your conversions. Check out these case studies on David Meerman’s blog: Brand Regard increased click-throughs three-fold when they introduced a persona-focused website, while RightNow Technologies increased conversions four-fold.
Do you speak the same language as your target audience? Do you use the same terms they use when discussing your products? Use these terms and you’ll increase your chances of being found via search engines and being considered relevant by your target market.
11. Give people a reason to buy from you
You need to give each buyer persona a reason they should buy from you. Think about it from their point of view. Your buyer personas aren’t interested in your products. They want to know how you can help them solve their problems; how you can help them boost profits, save time or cut costs; or how you help them become more productive, healthier, or happier.
KISSmetrics explains how its analytics software solves problems for each buyer group.
12. Overcome objections
To maximize sales, you need to overcome all objections potential customers may have. Do they think your product or service is expensive? Is your product too complicated? Are buyers concerned your product may not be suitable for their own specific circumstances?
Address objections on your sales page or refer people to a page with frequently asked questions. Ensure you overcome all potential objections to optimize conversion into sales.
Crazy Egg explains why you should buy its tracking technology even if though you can get Google Analytics free of charge:
Unless you sell commodities, most buyers have questions about their purchase. Answer all their questions, and you’ll become a trusted supplier and an authority in your field.
Change your mindset from How to sell widgets to retired workers to How can I help retired workers select the right widget for their requirements.
Think beyond straightforward sales copy. Consider questions like:
- How …?
- What …?
- Where …?
- When …?
- Why …?
- Can I…?
- Do I…?
When you’re launching a new website, or expanding your existing website, you don’t have to answer all questions in one go. Just answer the most important ones and create an editorial plan to address the remaining questions.
Email marketing provider MailChimp uses their online training section to answer email-related questions. These pages rank high in search engines for phrases like What is a double opt-in, How do I create an autoresponder, and When is the best time to send emails.
Potential buyers use Google to search for answers to their questions. This is a great way to generate relevant long-tail website traffic, and be helpful to potential buyers.
14. Get All Hands on Deck for Promotion
Your content is nothing if no one reads it, so make sure you get your social media and PR teams on deck.
Social media and email marketing
Each time you release a guide, plan a corresponding social media strategy. Decide how many times you’ll share your long-form content in each network. Try different copy as well as different times of day.
If you have the budget, consider a sponsored Facebook or sponsored Tweet campaign. Integrate your guide into an email marketing campaign so that your guide goes out to existing customers and subscribers.
Contests and Giveaways
Consider holding a contest or giveaway in conjunction with the release. If people are on your social media pages or website buzzing, they’re bound to catch a glimpse of the guide while they’re around. Make sure all contests and giveaways are relevant and connected.
Connect with influencers and do some outreach
If you feature influencers and companies within your guide, be sure to reach out to them and let them know. Depending on your relationship, you can ask them to share it or simply ask them to read it.
I’ve had success when I’ve thanked an influencer for their expertise and provided a link—they’ve shared the content without me having to ask.
Creating outstanding website content requires a lot of hard work and preparation. Don’t settle for average—most of your competition is average. Instead, look for those small changes you can make to your site and content development that will improve its user value and quality.
What are some ways you have taken your content to the next level?
- 14 Tips that Take Your Content from Flat to Fabulous - May 26, 2014