The Key to Creating Great Content
I’ve heard a lot of people talking about how “content marketing is dead” and “it just doesn’t work anymore”, but nothing could be further from the truth.
Content is still king, and it will be king for a very long time to come!
See, many people still prefer to read when they want to learn something unless it’s something that really lends itself more to visual media — such as learning to draw or paint.
Additionally, search engines still rely on text in order to build their indexes. Sure, they can index and rank other forms of media like images and video, but text still dominates most search results.
Then why do so many people seem to think content marketing is dead?
Because what they REALLY mean to say is that the content marketing THEY WERE USED TO is dead. And it is. Put a nail in the coffin. There’s no bringing it back.
The days of grabbing a keyword rich domain, throwing up a dozen articles featuring a dozen variations of the same keyword, and only writing 250-400 word articles are LONG GONE.
Those old methods don’t work. Search engines got sick of their users complaining about all the crappy, useless content ranking on the first pages, so they changed their algorithms so that all that junk had very little chance to rank.
These days, it’s nearly impossible for a brand new site to rank well in the search engines for anything but the least competitive keywords.
So… doesn’t that mean content marketing IS dead for most of us?
Absolutely not! Content marketing is still viable for every single one of us. It’s just the methods used to create a successful content marketing campaign are very, very different.
So we’ve established that the old methods of content marketing don’t work anymore. Now it’s time to talk about what DOES work.
The main thing you need to realize is that these days, it’s all about one thing:
The only way you are ever going to be truly successful over the long haul in content marketing is to focus on quality.
Not only are the search engines looking for higher quality content than ever before, but since it’s much harder to get ranked in the search engines with newer sites, it’s important for your content to be very high quality in order to get traffic from other sources.
If you stick with your content marketing plan long term, you will eventually start to see your pages ranking in the search engines.
But until then, you will probably see most of your traffic coming from social media, which means your content had better be up to snuff, or you’re going to have a hard time getting the likes, shares, and comments it takes to have a successful social media campaign.
So what exactly does quality mean, anyway?
Well, from the perspective of a visitor, it’s probably about what you would expect.
Visitors want content that delivers the information they are looking for, and ideally in a format that makes it easy to understand and maybe even interesting or entertaining.
From the standpoint of the search engines, quality content is:
- At least 1,000 words or longer
- Free from too many mistakes in grammar, spelling, punctuation, etc.
- Factually correct (and yes, they can tell this to a certain extent)
Basically, search engines want the same thing as your visitors want, only they are more technical about it.
One of the first things you learn if you take a marketing class is the importance of creating a good marketing plan.
It’s Marketing 101 at its most elementary!
Sadly most people seem to be “pantsers” — people who fly by the seat of their pants.
And I bet if you compared the number of marketers who fail to achieve success to those who are “pantsers”, the numbers would be pretty similar.
“If you fail to plan, you are planning to fail.”
This is a quote from Benjamin Franklin, and it rings true today just as much as it did when he said it many years ago.
As you create your content marketing plan, you need to keep a few important points in mind:
- What are your primary goals? Do you want to build a list? Grow your social media profiles? Sell your own products? Sell affiliate products? All of the above? Knowing your goals will help you decide what type of content to create.
- What kind of content is your competition creating, and how often are they creating it? You need to keep up with the competition as much as possible.
- How often can you realistically create content? Create an editorial calendar with upcoming topics you’d like to cover and a deadline for creating each one, and STICK TO IT.
Your overall plan should contain the following information:
- Your goals
- Your publishing schedule/calendar
- Topics you want to cover in the near future
- Ideas for things to cover in the distant future
Once you’ve created your plan, it’s time to put it into action by creating quality content.
Creating content is easy. Anyone with a half decent command of grammar in any language can create content.
But not everyone can create QUALITY content. Creating truly high quality content is something most people – even people who COULD honestly do it — fail to do successfully.
Why? Because they’re focusing on the wrong things!
Quality content means different things to different people, but the bottom line is that quality content is something that makes readers happy AND makes search engines happy.
As you start to create content, keep these things in mind:
- Quality is more important than quantity
- Writing for humans is more important than writing for search engines
- Content should be useful
- Content should be interesting or entertaining
- Content should be engaging
In order to find out what type of content you should be creating to make your audience happy, it’s important to check out content created by your competitors.
Find out what people do and don’t like about their content by checking blog comments, Facebook comments, the number of likes and shares they have, etc. Take notes as you do this research so you can remind yourself of things you could do better than your competitors.
You can also use your competitors to find ideas for content you could create. Maybe they wrote an article with six different points on a particular subject. You could write your own spin on the topic and include more or fewer points or focus on a different angle.
Also, be sure you’re adding links to additional information on the subject, as well as different forms of media like info graphics, videos, pictures, and downloads. This will make your visitors happy, as well as search engines who love to see you using different forms of media.
This will help you get more traffic, because you’ll have different forms of media than can be shared via different social media sources.
You might already have some content on your website or blog that hasn’t really brought you much traffic, and you’re thinking that old content is pretty much useless, right?
In fact, some SEO experts have reported seeing better rankings on old content when it is updated than they did on brand new content!
So let’s say you have some older articles published that aren’t ranking well and get very little traffic. Maybe they’re shorter articles that are a little thin on content and have some errors in grammar and spelling. Perhaps you got them outsourced cheaply and didn’t care much about quality because you were just trying to rank in the search engines for various keywords back in the day.
But that content isn’t useless! You can go back and make changes to that old content and have a chance to significantly boost its ranking in the search engines for some instant traffic!
Go through your old content and do the following:
- Remove any broken links
- Correct any grammatical and spelling errors
- Remove any incidences of keyword repetition
- Add content to increase article quality, at least 1,000 words
- Add at least 3 links to relevant articles on other authority sites
- Add relevant media such as images and videos
- Create a good image for Pinterest and add it to the bottom
These few things alone will give you a good chance to get a boost in the search engines, as well as making your content a lot more likely to get likes and shares via social media.
Stop thinking of older content as useless. It’s not! It can be a very good foundation for quality content that can get you traffic.
Most people think of content marketing as being solely a written form of media, but content marketing can actually come in many different forms.
Other forms of media include:
- Audio, such as music, audio books, or podcasts
- Info graphics
- Illustrations and cartoons
- Downloadable files such as software or eBooks
The list goes on, and it can all be considered a form of content marketing.
Search engines are assigning more value to other forms of media all the time. You’ve probably seen this yourself when you search Google for something and see a bunch of videos or images ranking above links to websites.
Other forms of media have two major benefits:
- They can rank on their own, such as in the above example of videos and images ranking above websites.
- They can make your written content rank higher if you include them on your pages.
Of course, it would be a mistake to add other forms of media just for the sake of having other media on your site. Every piece of media you add should be relevant to your content, and serve an important purpose in supporting your written content.
Perhaps it’s an info graphic that shows various statistics to support some of the things you covered in your article.
Maybe it’s a video showing in detail how to do something you described in the written content.
But it should all be relevant to your topic and help you better convey the points you make in your written content.
Remember that other forms of media will help you get traffic from other sources. For example:
- Images will get you traffic from Google Images, Pinterest, Facebook, Twitter, etc.
- Videos will get you traffic from sites like YouTube, if you create them yourself.
- Downloads will get you traffic from sites like SlideShare and others.
You get the idea. Other forms of media can be very valuable if you use them properly!
Most people think the ultimate sign of success in any type of marketing is an increase in income, and that’s certainly the desired outcome in most cases. But simply tracking your income and traffic isn’t really a true indicator of your success.
There are plenty of other metrics you need to pay attention to if you want to not only know if your content marketing strategy is working, but how to improve it.
For example, while it’s important to track how much traffic you’re getting, it’s also important to track the SOURCES of your traffic.
If you’re getting a lot of traffic from one source, you can try to scale your efforts to get even more traffic from that same place.
If you’re not getting much traffic from another source, you can either choose to spend more time figuring out how to get MORE traffic from that source, or choose to focus on it less and spend that time increasing traffic from sources you know are working for you.
But if you don’t pay attention to WHERE your traffic is coming from, you won’t know what is and isn’t working for you and you won’t be able to do anything to increase it.
Bounce rate is another critical metric that you need to pay attention to. Bounce rate is the number of people who leave your site after viewing only one page. If this rate is high, it means people probably aren’t enjoying your content enough to visit other pages on your site, or you’re not doing a good job directing them to additional content they might like, such as by using a plugin to display links to other relevant articles.
Google pays attention to bounce rate as an indicator of the quality of your content, and if your bounce rate is high, you’ll find it very difficult to rank.
If you have a high bounce rate, it could be due to a number of factors, but try increasing the quality of your content and using a plugin to direct people to other pages to decrease your bounce rate.
You also want to figure out — not just how much traffic you are getting overall — but also how often that traffic is converting into leads and/or sales.
If you’re getting a TON of traffic and not many leads or sales, then you have something wrong somewhere. It might be the quality of your content, a failure in your call-to-action, or some other issue, but you’ll never be able to figure it out and fix it if you’re not paying attention to your conversion rates!
Content marketing is a fairly complex subject, but as long as you create a solid plan, put out great content, and spend time watching your metrics, you’ll have a solid foundation for success.