The path for content marketers is clear. In order to boost SEO rankings, gain traffic and/or leads, you need to have great content on your blog or website.
If you write original content, search engines will help your site get more exposure. Google wants to reward high quality sites that contain original content. So not only does great content make a better website, it also improves your site’s rankings, which can have a very positive impact on your business.
First, let’s look at what makes great content, and then we’ll move on to sites that produce great content.
1. Create Original Content
Here’s the train of thought that most website owners have (thinking that gets them in trouble):
STOP THINKING THIS WAY!
Remember these two rules in life:
You get what you pay for.
If you don’t have anything useful to say, then don’t say it at all.
These two simple points will keep you on the path of making quality content that will yield returns for years to come. They can also help in other aspects of your life. :)
2. Always Focus On Creating Strong Headlines
A good headline sparks interest and invites readers in. Consider these great statistics from Copyblogger:
Take time with your headlines. If possible, make a few and select which one you like best. Don’t skim over them. They are the first thing people read, and they are the basis those people use to decide if they want to read your article or not.
3. Make Your Content Actionable
The best content gives the user a sense of how to apply the information. It doesn’t degrade users by telling them what to do, but rather respects them and provides them with assurance that they know best how to use the material. When you write your blog post, give users tips on applying what you are offering them. Many times, just writing well about a topic will spark some ideas for readers.
4. Be Able to Provide Answers
What is the ultimate purpose of a search engine? Most people would be correct in saying “to deliver sets of answers.” Google is great at this. Type a query into Google and you’ll be presented with links, pictures, and videos.
When people use a search engine, what they ultimately want is an answer, and it’s the search engine’s job to deliver that answer.
It’s the same when people are reading a blog post, viewing an infographic or watching a video — they want an answer so they can gain knowledge. An additional tip here is: people don’t just want answers, they want answers fast. So make your content easy to scan so people can pick up the juicy, important bits quickly.
Read any title and subtitle of a non-fiction book or article. Ultimately, what it leaves the reader with is a question or a sense of curiosity. It is then the author’s job to deliver answers and have supporting information.
5. Be Accurate in Your Reporting and Sourcing of Information
Think about this: you write an article for your company’s blog, thousands of people read it, and some of what you wrote turns out to be inaccurate. Can you imagine what damage this can do to your company and your personal reputation? Keep in mind, your blog is a reflection of your company. If there are any issues with the blog, it impacts how people view your product.
It’s important that any statistic you state can be verified. Many blog posts will link right to the statistic and the source.
Accuracy builds trust with readers. Remember James Frey, author of the popular book A Million Little Pieces? He had to go on the Oprah Winfrey show and admit that the book was made up of lies. He has written a few books since then, but he likely will be remembered as the guy who made up his memoir, instead of as the writer of his other published works. It has permanently damaged his career.
Here are some tips to think about when you’re mulling over the issues of accuracy:
6. Create Engaging and Thought Provoking Content
An engaged audience hangs on to your every word and takes in all that you write or say. But the only way to get an engaged audience is to make engaging content. It all starts with you and what you write. Here are a few tips to help you write engaging content:
Leave readers with questions. This doesn’t mean to have an incomplete post, but rather to include questions that make readers reflect on how they can implement the knowledge you provided.
Have an important and promising introduction. Ever wondered how quickly people make judgments about blog posts? Most people probably decide within the first few sentences if the post is worth reading. Tell users why they should care and what you’ll be discussing in the blog post. Make them want to read it.
People love stories. You can use an anecdote in your introduction or have a story woven into your blog post. Stories can also help clarify a point. When possible, add a story to your blog post. It will make it more engaging and may also help the reader learn.
A final tip on this point: If you provide content that sparks a flurry of comments, the search engines will notice that your post is important and is being updated regularly. This is a great way to get the engines to come back to your site more frequently.
7. Communicate Better by Adding Images and Video
You already know that people learn differently. Some people learn better by seeing, while others learn better by hearing. What’s important is that no one learns less by having visual aids. Whether you use pictures, videos, or diagrams, they can help illustrate your point. Open any modern textbook and you’ll find pictures used to enhance the reading experience and to reinforce the author’s lesson.
Whatever you’re writing about, add pictures. No one wants to look at paragraphs of text, unless you’re writing a book. However, only add images that help or add value. And please – for the love of your readership – stay away from unnecessary stock photography!
8. Write Short and Pointed Content
There is nothing better than a brief, to-the-point blog post or article that is filled with information.
So don’t focus on word count. A longer blog post does not mean a better blog post. And often, keeping a blog post short is more difficult and actually takes more time than just writing as much as you can.
9. Make Continual Updates to Your Website or Blog
Starting a blog or website is a commitment. While you can write a couple of posts and then abandon the work, you won’t get many readers or new customers. Not just that, but search engines don’t favor sites that aren’t regularly updated.
If you have a blog or content site, you need to update it regularly with great content. Many of the best content sites are regularly updated.
According to our Science of Social Timing infographic – sites that post more frequently have a surprisingly stronger influx of visitors: unique views by post per day
How often should your blog or site be updated? That’s up to you. Everyone has different resources and priorities. You should make an effort to update at least twice a week. It is a content site you’re building, after all.
A few final points about writing content:
Don’t treat a blog post or any other sort of content site lightly. It’s difficult, and good ones take time to research and write. Proper title, grammar, and organization are a must. When you reread your post, ask yourself: