We’re living in the age of information overload. With each click, there’s a new blog, a breaking news article, a viral Facebook post, a controversial Tweet… sometimes all in one page! In 2019 where everyone has a voice and anyone can be a content creator, how will your content stand out?
High quality content can do great things. For a start, it could increase:
- Site traffic
- Brand awareness
- Customer engagement
- Search engine rankings
If you’re new to content creation or just feeling a bit overwhelmed by all the information out there (oh, the irony!)… here are 5 tips to give your content a competitive advantage:
1. Establish clear objectives
Content creation is part of your marketing strategy, and like other aspects of your business, it needs to have defined objectives.
Before starting anything, establish your content strategy. This is a plan which includes your subject topics, presentation formats, and publication schedule.
Do not create mindless content without specific goals.
Align your content with your KPIs, treat each piece as an asset and learn to repurpose it across different platforms.
- Will I be using this post to raise awareness or provoke debate? Who am I writing it for? Will it be a blog or ebook? Could I include it in my email newsletter to increase customer engagement and retention? If so, how will I repurpose the content so it’s suitable for an email?
- Is the purpose of this article to develop thought leadership? Will it be a whitepaper or website case study? Am I conducting this study to elevate corporate branding or contribute to current academic knowledge?
- What do I want to achieve from this social media post? Is it to gauge audience interest of a product idea or to drive traffic to my website? Which social media platform should I use? Would it be appropriate to include a gif?
These are some questions to ask yourself before commencing on any content piece. This is the most important step as your responses will shape your tone, length, structure, format, and everything else!
2. Understand who (and what) you’re writing for
At first glance, this might seem like a basic principle… but how well are you implementing it?
Identifying your target audience is one thing, but it takes more to truly understand your readers. What are their pain points? What questions are they asking? What concerns do they have?
How will people find your content? It’s important to realise that you’re also writing for search engines like Google.
Take for example that you’re managing a website for a gym. You’ll want your article “Hottest Fitness Classes to Hit New York in 2019” to pop up when a someone searches “fitness classes New York”.
This is where Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) comes in.
This topic deserves its own article, but we’ll touch on two key points here — keyword research and search engine rankings.
Keyword research helps you understand what your customers are searching for. Some useful keyword research tools are Google’s Keyword Planner, Google Trends, SEMRush, and Moz’s Keyword Explorer. The goal is to identify keywords that will work in your favour, and include them in your content. For instance, if you’re a newcomer in your industry, you might aim to rank for a keyword that has high search volume but low competition.
You want to rank as highly as possible on the Search Engine Results Pages (SERPs). Check out this recent report demonstrating the advantages of ranking in the top 3 organic results on page 1!
Here are some tips to help you ensure that Google understands your content (the little details matter more than you might think):
Title — the clickable headline which appears as a search result
- Include keywords in your title
Google reads your title tag to understand what your content is about, so this is for Google as much as it is for your readers.
This gets bad rap thanks to trashy pieces with sensational titles and unrelated content. When used properly, this does wonders for your engagement. Hook your reader with a gripping title — one they couldn’t possibly skip past when skimming through a page.
Which one would you click on first?
“Top 10 Fitness Hacks from Industry Experts”
The more compelling your title, the higher your click-through rate (CTR). When you get a high CTR, Google rewards you with a higher search ranking.
Headline — just for your readers, or rather, potential readers
- It only takes 2 seconds for someone to decide whether they want to stay on your page.
- Create a headline that is original, descriptive, and captivating enough to convince the audience that your post is worth reading.
Meta description — a short summary which appears in the search engine results
- Don’t neglect this section. What you write here will tell the searcher whether your content deserves their time and attention.
3. Build authority & trust through research
Exceptional content demonstrates expertise and credibility. It doesn’t only inform your consumer; it also builds trust with them.
Never underestimate the importance of research. To create original content, it isn’t enough to just educate yourself about the topic. A true creator goes beyond that to identify gaps in existing knowledge.
The difference between good content and exceptional content is this:
- Good content is about gathering existing information and presenting it in an appealing way.
- Exceptional content is about identifying and filling gaps in current knowledge. It is new, original, and creative; it distinguishes itself from existing content by addressing the unanswered questions.
To build authority with your content, consider the following:
- Ensure the accuracy of your content by validating it with accurate sources.
- Strengthen your arguments with reliable references, updated data and statistics, academic research, and quotes from industry experts.
- To clearly explain abstract concepts, use examples and case studies.
- If you’re delving into a fresh topic with little existing information, create your own research! Construct a survey or questionnaire and report on your findings. Get your audience involved — transform your consumer engagement from passive consumption to active participation.
4. Make an impact
Never write for the sake of completing a task or meeting a certain word count. Write because you’re so enthusiastic about something that you can’t wait to share it with everyone!
Ok I hear you… this might not be completely realistic. Here are some tips on how to create stimulating content:
Get in the right headspace before you begin
- This means having a clear mind, with goals set, fuelled by passion and excitement.
Quality over quantity
- Get to the point. Avoid fluff and fillers. Length is not what makes a strong piece.
- Enhance written content with high quality images, videos, and visual aids like infographics or interactive charts. Pages with visual content get 94% more views than those with text only. Don’t believe it? Check out this infographic about infographics.
Include a call to action (CTA)
- This is an important way to guide your audience towards your goals. (See example at the end of this article.)
- Start a discussion or debate by encouraging your audience to ask questions or give feedback in the comments section or on social media. This is a great way to increase engagement with your content.
5. Consistent tracking & progress
It is crucial to analyse the performance of each piece of content to understand what’s working and what isn’t. Ask questions like: Did it reach your target audience? What was the engagement rate? How did it fare against other types of content? How many people subscribed to your mailing list or shared your content after reading it?
Use tools like Google Analytics to understand how your audience are interacting with your content and refine your content strategy accordingly. With KPIs as your guide, measure relevant metrics to track progress and drive improvements. For example, if your KPI is to gain more email subscribers, you can measure the performance of your email content by looking at metrics like the open rate and subscription rate.
Data-based insights allow you to accurately identify high performing content pieces, compare them with others, determine key qualities, and then produce more in similar style. This constant optimisation is how you can ensure consistent improvement in your content output.
Some handy metrics to track marketing goals:
- Website traffic
- Page views
- Referral links
- Form completions
- Resource downloads
- Email/blog subscriptions
- Conversion rates
- Social shares
- Inbound links
Follow these tips when building your content and you’ll be on your way to content marketing success!
Looking for help with your content strategy or copywriting? Need some personalised advice? Check out www.sarah-kwok.com and get in touch.