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If You Read One Article About Writing Great Content Read This One

GUIDE TO CONTENT MARKETING SUCCESS

If You Read One Article About Writing Great Content Read This One

LOOKING FOR WAYS TO MAKE YOUR CONTENT MORE EFFECTIVE? THIS IS FOR YOU.

“Either write something worth reading or do something worth writing” – Benjamin Franklin

It’s a strange world we’re in right now. Curbside pickups, pandemic photo shoots, Zoom happy hours, distilleries making hand sanitizer instead of booze, virtual home sales, people driving around with masks on (still don’t get that one). 

And creating new content. Lots of it. With the internet being the primary forms of promotion right now, content has moved off of the backburner and on to the front line for many businesses. Companies are currently fine-tuning, updating or replacing their websites at a frantic pace. 

Content marketing is a critical component of any SEO strategy or digital marketing campaign, but thankfully, you don’t need to be an SEO expert to write great content. So how does content marketing work?

What Is Content Marketing?

If you’ve heard the term content marketing and wondered what that means, in simple terms, content marketing involves creating valuable, helpful information that helps connect your business with the right audience

It’s a great opportunity to let others know about your company, your expertise, products and services, or anything else that makes you great.

More than writing blog posts, you can leverage content writing into improving your website content, social media posts, product or service descriptions, social media posts, guest blogging and email campaigns. 

People are spending so much time online now, it’s reshaping business practices on how to communicate with and engage your audience. As a result of this, content marketing is now at the forefront of many business development initiatives.

Look at your news feeds, or your LinkedIn feed. Are you seeing more posting activity online these days? I sure am! From how-to’s, company updates, industry insights, there’s so much great content to absorb!

I haven’t seen any statistics since the pandemic, but pre-Rona, research from Hubspot indicated that 70% of marketers are investing in content marketing. I’d bet that number has gone up. 

From my own experience, content has been one of those backburner action items that many businesses were thinking about prior to the pandemic. It hadn’t yet become a priority, but is now. 

I also believe that if these same businesses knew the potential impact that content marketing could have on their business, it would have been a much higher priority before the pandemic. I’m not talking about the content that you often see that basically says:  “if you need a quote, give us a call”. 

I’m talking about content that provides actual value. How-to’s, case studies, white papers, or any content that your audience can’t get elsewhere. 

Content that showcases you as the authority in your industry. More importantly, content that solves a problem or answers questions that people commonly have. 

Benefits of Content Marketing

Why Do Companies Invest in Content Marketing?

By “invest”, I’m suggesting an investment in either time or money, as many companies do a fantastic job writing their own content. For others, there are a variety of professional content writing services or content marketing specialists who provide these services. 

The goals behind content marketing differ, but the foundation typically centers around

If a client of mine is interested in driving sales through a new channel, or promoting a particular service, my first thought is “we need great content”. It’s not enough just to advertise via a blurb on your website, and expect the leads to roll in. 

Other reasons for content writing can include keeping existing customers updated with company events, highlights or promotions. 

Consistency leads to success and many companies have caught on to this fact. Writing content regularly, whether it’s blogging or posting to social media, increases your exposure and drives interest. 

As a result, many businesses are engaged in content marketing for the purpose of keeping an active, consistent presence online.

Benefits of Quality Content Writing

Quality content writing can pay significant dividends to companies who commit to it. Here are a few.

Build Your Brand / Create a Voice

Beyond white papers, spec sheets, or sales literature, content allows you to personalize your business. Through content you can speak to your audience person to person. People like to do business with those they know, like and trust. The power of content writing, is it gives you the ability to do just that. 

Increased Sales Leads

Great content gives you the opportunity to help convince your audience that you are the right company for their needs. Quality content writing leads to more conversions (calls, emails, website form submissions).

Repeat Visitors

A byproduct of consistently creating great content is it gives your visitors a reason to come back. More touches leads to more conversions.

Boost in rankings (SEO)

Content is a driving force behind SEO, or search engine optimization. Your reward for creating quality content will most likely include more website traffic. With more visibility comes more opportunities. More visibility is a common goal of content marketing, and done properly, it can be super effective. 

To give you a visual example, here’s a recent example of a company who reached out to us looking for help. What they noticed was a drop off in their website performance, and you can see it in the graph below. 

Google rankings going down

Using a tool like SEMrush we’re able to track and measure the volume of keywords that are ranking in the search engines. 

When they saw this line, they immediately realized that the drop happened right when they quit blogging. Over a span of five months, they dropped from nearly 500 keywords, to 147 keywords that were ranking organically. Not good!

I’m often asked, “what will happen to my rankings if I stop doing anything online?” This is a great example of what can happen.

To contrast this, here is another client who we’ve worked with since August of 2019. What happened to create this upward trend? You guessed it. Content. Building great content brings results. 

A sustained upward climb like this is the result of both solid content writing, and consistent activity. In other words, one blog post isn’t going to do this on its own. Keep at it and watch your trend line go up too! 

Google rankings going up

WHAT MAKES GREAT CONTENT?

Now we’re getting to the good stuff. However, this is where many businesses get off track. 

It’s not enough just to write content just for the sake of it. The key word is “quality”. The benefits of writing quality content begin with a well-researched, well thought out article that addresses your audience’s needs. 

Have you heard of the marketing principle known as WIIFM (What’s In It For Me)? It should be the foundation for any content that you create. 

What it means is thinking about your audience, and creating content that focuses on their interests, not yours. Even more generally, talking about benefits rather than features. Providing your audience with valuable knowledge they didn’t have before.

WIIFM is behind most buying decisions, so it’s important to build content with this in mind

WIIFM Marketing Principle

In Addition, Great Content Is Also:

Easy to Read

This means great design, and great writing. Proper header usage, include images (and tag them), short paragraphs.

Conversational

Engage your audience with a personal, conversational tone.

Findable

Optimize your content for a specific keyword(s) you want to promote, so users and search engines can find your content when searching. Whatever you are wanting to promote with your article, make sure those words are included in the content!

Actionable

Great content provides a road map for people to act. From how-to’s, to a case study to making specific recommendations that your audience can do themselves.

How Long Should My Content Be?

This depends. Are you writing content for social media, a marketing email or are you writing a blog post, or updating a page on your website? Who’s your audience? The length of your content should be appropriate for the given platform and audience. 

That said, let’s talk about your website and your goals. If your objective is to create content that moves the needle for your business, longer content will provide better results (in general). Don’t buy into the mantra that people have short attention spans shorter content performs better. It’s just not true. WordStream recently conducted a study on long-form content, and the results showed that viewers crave meatier articles

Search engines tend to favor long-form content as well. Statistically, longer content ranks better than shorter content. What I mean by “longer”, or long-form content is content in excess of 1000 words, or even 2000 words or more. For the sake of argument, WordStream uses 1,200 words as a benchmark for long-form content. 

A recent study by Backlinko indicated that the average word count for a page 1 result in Google contained 1,447 words.

Don’t buy into the mantra that people have short attention spans and shorter content performs better. It’s just not true.

Why Does Longer Content Rank Better?

More content provides more clues for Google to decipher what you’re good at. With longer content, you’re going to have multiple instances of your keywords, phrases, and variations (including long-tail keywords), giving your article a better chance of being picked up in search results. Think of it as casting a wider net. 

By contrast, short articles are considered “thin content”, by Google, and less likely to provide complete answers for those specific queries. 

Google’s mission is to promote the best answers, or best content for each specific query. Generally speaking, thin content won’t rank as high as longer-form content as a result. 

Where Do I Start With Content Marketing?

Research Your Topic

Don’t wing it. Back your material with facts. Know what you’re talking about. Using anchor text in your article, link out to other relevant websites who have provided you with a quote, statistic or support your material.

Come Up With a Plan

What’s the point of this article? Draft it out with bullets and stay on point as you create the content. Present the content in a logical flow.

Consider Your Objective

If you are wanting to generate interest in a specific product, service or break into a new industry, you want to make sure that those specific words (known as keywords), are contained within the body of your text.

This doesn’t mean overdoing it. Keyword stuffing involves including an unnatural number of keywords in your article. This is frowned upon by Google, and your audience will pick up on it. Keep it natural, but think about how people might be searching for you. What are they typing into a Google search? Those are the words or phrases that you want to be sure to include in your content and tag your images with.

Include Images

Images work well to break up long strings of text, add visual appeal and personalize your content. Images also offer a great opportunity to tag them with your specific keywords. What is ALT-tagging? Learn more about ALT-tagging images or Alt text (alternative text) here: https://moz.com/learn/seo/alt-text

Internal and External Linking

Again, using anchor text, include an outbound link or two that you’ve either cited as a source, or provides additional relevant information that your readers would find useful. Internal linking is done with anchor text that links to other pages on your website. This helps Google (web crawlers) better understand the architecture of your website. Read more about linking here: https://yoast.com/internal-linking-for-seo-why-and-how/

Create a Killer Headline!

Headlines are critical, as they create the conversion (or click). According to Copyblogger, 80% of people will read your headline, but only 20% will read your entire article. Writing headlines isn't the time to be modest or subdued. If clicks are the goal, write a headline that would spark your own curiosity.

Great titles grab attention, and entice action. Writing fantastic headlines isn’t easy but considering the amount of time it takes to create new content, it's worth the additional time investment to create a great headline. If you're looking for direction, there are SEO tools out there that can help. Here’s two free tools that can help get the creative juices flowing:

https://seopressor.com/blog-title-generator/ 

https://www.portent.com/tools/title-maker

Solicit Help!

With the business climate today, many employees have the bandwidth to contribute in different ways. Content writing is (or could be) one of them. Have any budding writers on staff, with valuable insights or knowledge to share? Leverage your internal network!

I've Written My Article. Now What?

Once you’ve posted your content, promote it on social media by linking back to it. If you have employees, encourage each of them to like and share the content. Social signals are one measure that indicates the popularity of content. 

You could also promote your article via an email marketing campaign with existing customers, or sales prospects.

Research and Write Your Next Article!

Writing content takes time. Think about the next great topic that you can’t wait to share with the world. Writing a quality article is a great start, but getting in the habit of consistently producing content will supercharge your results!

If you have stale, outdated content already out there, you could also refresh or add to that content with new or current information. In doing so, make sure to optimize the article using the suggestions above (strong title, including keywords, phrases, images, internal and external linking, etc.). Now you’ve got another optimized article ready to go to work for you! 

Content writing is often underestimated, or misunderstood as as core digital marketing strategy. Checking off a few simple boxes can help to set your content apart, and generate new interest in your company. 

Good luck with your upcoming article!

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