How to Create Meaningful Content That Represents Value
The phrase “Content is King” has become a common credo in the digital marketing world. While admittedly a bit cliché, it’s a very accurate, if deceptively simple, statement.
Creating unique, high quality content is the cornerstone of any successful business plan for web marketing. Before we dive into the process for crafting great content, let’s quickly review why content is so important for your web presence.
Why is great content so crucial?
Content serves two primary purposes: Informing and engaging your visitors, and sending signals to search engines (namely Google).
The first purpose is fairly straightforward – your content needs to appeal to your visitors. Whereas most of your marketing efforts involve promotion, the content on your site represents attraction.
Better content not only improves customer loyalty and conversions, it can also generate natural links to your site and increased visibility on Social Networks.
For the purpose of sending signals to search engines, strategizing your content could get a bit trickier. The copy on your pages gives keyword and relevance clues to Google. For this reason, your content must align with your keyword targeting.
But beware, too much duplicate content or a high density of keywords within otherwise poor quality content could result in negative weighting of your website in the search results.
Striking a delicate balance between writing great, engaging content and polishing it for optimum exposure in the search engines is the key to a successful campaign. Speaking of successful campaigns, let’s look at how to create them.
Identify Your Audience and Brainstorm
The initial planning phase, as with any successful campaign, will encompass a fair amount of time and effort. While it may seem easy to take shortcuts at the outset, doing things right will pay off in the long run. It’s best if you’ve got a handful of keyword targets outlined before you tackle this step.
First, you’ll want to identify your audience. Outline generic ‘personas’ that represent a typical customer that might visit your site and (hopefully) buy from you. What do they like or dislike? What are their needs? How can you solve their problems?
Your goal here is to connect your business to the customer’s interests through content topics and ideas. Remember that we’re looking for qualified leads from visitors you expect to convert when they arrive.
Once your audience is well outlined, brainstorm content ideas with the appropriate teams in your organization. Your marketing and managerial teams will likely be in attendance for this meeting, but an often-overlooked yet crucial inclusion for this step is your Sales team.
They are the direct point of contact with your customers, on the ‘front lines’ so to speak. Your sales crew can most likely contribute valuable information about what works, what doesn’t, the types of problems and questions your customers have and much more.
With your brainstorming board assembled, collaborate to collect a sizable handful of content ideas. Create a list of content types (such blog articles, whitepapers, infographics, etc.) that fit best with your business, as well as a list of specific topics. The bigger your pool of topics and ideas, the longer you can run the campaign before reconvening.
Step Two: Build the Content Campaign
You’ve got your keyword targets, you’ve pinpointed your audience and you’re armed with a list of content ideas and topics. It’s time to start building out the campaign. At this point, you’ll want to create schedules, timelines, and estimates for the man-hours and costs associated with creating the content.
Depending on some variables (such as the size of your site, the existing content saturation, etc.), your active pace for producing content should be gradual, yet consistent. Don’t over-extend your resources trying to churn out too much content too quickly. Natural content grows gradually, so it’s okay to ration it out over time.
Upon evaluating your costs (in terms of both time and money) for the campaign, and a reasonable schedule, you may realize you’re better off outsourcing. Or perhaps you might consider hiring a new recruit specifically for creating content.
If you choose to farm out the project externally, take great care in selecting the right person or firm. (If you’d like some help shopping for this type of service, please feel free to contact us with your questions.)
At the conclusion of this step, you should have a well-defined audience, a pool of content types with topics and a detailed schedule (with estimated project timelines) for the production of your content.
Diversify your On-Site Content Efforts
Through brainstorming and organized scheduling, you should have a solid pool of content ideas and a decent amount of time allotted for your campaign. Your next step prior to launching your first few pieces of content is plotting out the placement.
Choosing where to put your content as you go is the best way to maintain flexibility throughout the campaign, allowing you to capture opportunities that arise on the fly that you’d otherwise miss if you planned out all of your content placement ahead of time.
This method also helps you diversify your content throughout the site more easily. With all the various types of content you could potentially create, this diversification could set your business apart from your competitors by crafting a fresh and dynamic resource.
Leveraging Off-Site Channels
Producing high quality, unique and engaging content on your website is key to your online success, but can fall flat without the proper complement of off-site marketing.
Once you’ve got your content rolling out consistently, it’s time to leverage those off-site channels for improved visibility. Promoting your content through social networks such as Google Plus, Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn is a good start.
But leveraging these channels means more than simply posting your content link on each platform. With Google Plus, for example, you can develop groups and circles, host hangouts, and apply Authorship Markup. Spend some time nurturing your social channels to gain more followers, “Likes” and active members.
As you grow your content, and align your social channel growth with your promotion and engagement, your authority and your audience will expand.
But off-site promotion doesn’t end at Facebook and Twitter. Myriad other forums and resources offer other promotional benefits and opportunities for engagement.
Seek out forums and communities matching your industry interests. Offer an article for publication as a ‘guest post’ on a relevant blog. There are plenty of options for off-site promotion for your content, so don’t settle for just one or two avenues.
Review Progress & Performance
As with any project or intensive campaign, you’ll benefit greatly through careful analysis of the results. After a set period of time (such as at the end of each quarter), set aside a few hours to review the progress and performance of your content campaign and collaborate with your team.
Compile your content-based metrics and evaluate KPI’s such as social channel referrals and Google ranking shifts based on keywords you’ve targeted through content.
Pinpointing improvements and new channels of visitor acquisition will help you discern what’s working and how to further leverage those opportunities. You’ll also want to carefully examine any areas where traction is slow or stagnant.
Create priorities based on your performance evaluations, designed in such a way that you can maintain and nurture your wins, and attempt to improve the weaknesses in your campaign.