By Sam Bailey
When you think of content, are SEO, Google rankings, web traffic, and driving customers to your site, the first things that come to mind?
While you wouldn’t be alone in thinking this way, with the proliferation of content and social media raising the stakes and giving us access to customers in a new way, there is a lot more to content than first meets the eye.
Google Digital Evangelist Avinash Kaushik’s take on it is that: “Content is anything that adds value to the reader’s life”.
While business owners may know the value it has to their own company, what Kaushik makes clear is that for readers or potential customers, content is only relevant if it matters to them.
And why do we care about this? Well, apart from hopefully wanting to give your customers something useful and building your community, Google cares too.
As MarkITwrite puts it: “Google wants to rank websites on the strength of their content, not by how many times a keyword appears on a page – it looks messy and is no use to anyone. So, don’t be tempted – just write great stuff”.
So with this in mind, content should be focused on value adding and rewarding readers for clicking on your site. It’s not about spamming, humblebragging, or creating content with the purpose of improving your SEO.
Before we talk more about how to write valuable content, let’s look at the semantics and define what content is first.
In the web world, there are two types of ‘content’; I’m going to refer to them as ‘copy content’ and ‘blog content’.
‘Copy content’ relates to anything word related on a site - think product information, homepage copy, brand slogans, mission statements, about us sections, basically anything with words.
At The Cogworks, this is how we most commonly refer to content and is the basis for what our content team handles day-to-day. The content team oversees content migrations (in which copy is moved from one CMS platform to another - in our case to Umbraco), but they also take on crafty copywriting for company websites, one great example is the project we’re working on for coffee revolutionaries; CanDo Coffee. We wrote just about every word on their site (coming soon), catchy slogans and all.
The other kind of content - ‘blog content’ is something we write for our company website The Cogworks.
Blog content is anything written as a blog or article to share ideas and thoughts. So for the purpose of this argument, we’re referring primarily to blog content.
Writing great blog content will be the difference between you getting unique page views, shared, retweeted or...zilch.
So why then is it that often content writing is an afterthought for companies? Why so often do we wait for something to happen or be released before we write about it?
Why not start thinking out of the box, brainstorming and thinking ahead of the curve in order to produce shareable content ahead of the game? Instead of waiting and bashing out any old thing when you’ve got a gap in content or site interest, let’s get proactive. Let’s make content queen, now is the time to bow down to the power of the written word.
How do we do this? Let’s discuss what makes good content. Here are five important considerations for writing successful content.
Talk about what you know
As much as you may be inclined to talk about something topical or trending (and by all means it’s great to have your finger on the pulse), if it’s not something you have a good scope of knowledge about or can’t write with passion and conviction, then no one will buy it. Stick to what you know and your opinion will be more valued and you’ll connect with the right people.
Write for your audience
Use previous blog posts to learn what has resonated the most with your audience. This is a chance to go back and embrace the power of Google Analytics. Thoroughly review the posts using analytics - who are your audience? Which countries are they from? Where do they come to you from - i.e. through social, organic searches, other blog referrals? Pour over your social data - who likes, shares, retweets, follows you? What do they do and why did what you write resonate with them? Use the data, learn the trending patterns, and write more accordingly.
Back it up
We’re not talking saving data to external hard drive, we’re talking concrete ideas, facts, links, quotes! The only way to have a voice of authority or be seen as making a valid argument is to back it up with secondary sources. We learn it throughout school and university and it still stands today. There are exceptions to this rule of course, in terms of technical pieces (i.e. code how-tos) and personal blogs (i.e. reflective pieces), but if you’re out to get clicks, hits and reach a wider audience, then you need to offer more than one opinion. Sources will help to contextualise and validate your piece.
Know your message
What is your company ethos? What message do you wish to leave your readers with? Are you a bold, dynamic, digital authority? Are you specialists who stick with what you know and avoid the mumbo jumbo? Whatever your brand personality is, write for that. The tone reflects your company and potential clients will either be drawn or discouraged from it.
Provoke an action
From a business perspective, the purpose of content writing is to connect with the audience. So, go on, write compelling content! Inspire people to try something new, inspire them to be a part of a community, inspire emotion, inspire learning and knowledge share, inspire personal growth. Just inspire. As the saying goes, ‘be the change you wish to see in the world.’ Go and make magic happen!
Now that you are armed with the five key considerations to make content queen, we hope you’ll go forth and create some great value for your customers. If you need any additional help, contact us to speak with our friendly content team.