When Bill Gates wrote his essay titled “Content is King” back in 1996, he almost predicted the future. He predicted that content on the internet will face incredible competition and you cannot succeed unless you create engaging content that adds real value to their lives. And we see that happening today, exactly as he said.
Content, by far, is the most important component in any digital marketing strategy. According to a survey, 80% of people like to learn about a company through custom content. So, how do you ensure that the content you’re publishing is killing your competition and bringing you the returns? Here’s what you should do.
1. Define reader personas
When creating content, the first question that should come to your mind is – Who are you creating it for? Your content should not be targeted to everyone but to a specific set of readers. You need to identify who your core audience is. That is to say, who would be really interested in the product or service you offer and have maximum chances of converting.
Say if you’re dealing in sports gear, your target audience would be athletes or people who have an active lifestyle. So you need to create content that they might be looking for or may be interested in. Once you’ve defined your reader personas, it becomes easier to build your content strategy around it. You can now decide what kind of content would appeal to them more or when you should publish a particular piece so that it creates better engagement.
2. Research trends and understand opportunity areas
Research is the first step in the journey of content creation. Extensive research on current trends and burning topics is extremely important if you want your audience to remain glued to your content. Keeping track of recent trends and opportunity areas in your niche ensures that the content you create is useful to the audience. You can write about anything under the sun, but if it is not relevant in the current times or does not address an audience pain point, it is just a waste of your efforts.
To find out what’s trending in your industry, you can try out ContentStudio. ContentStudio is a content marketing and social media management platform that has an amazing feature for helping you discover content online. Its powerful listening engine, powered by AI, constantly fetches fresh content from millions of sources on almost any topic you want. So you can explore and collect trending content in any niche or market using instant search, curated topics or custom topics. The research couldn’t get easier than this.
3. Generating topics that are shareable
Another very important factor that determines how many views and backlinks your content gets, is the topic you chose. It is not unusual for a content creator to run out of interesting topic ideas. But it is certainly not the end. There are many ways of finding fresh topics that are both appealing and shareable.
To know which topics are currently trending and have the potential of being widely shared, the easiest way is to look at your competitors. See what they are writing about, find out which of their posts are getting maximum reposts or shares. This should give you a fair idea of what’s working and what’s not. Or you could conduct a little research on social media. Find out what kind of content, from your niche, are people sharing on these platforms. There can’t be a better place to look for trending topics.
You can also use topic suggestion tools available online, like Portent’s Content Idea Generator and build your own blog to get extra help.
4. Hire great content writers and offer clear guidelines
The quality of your content will depend largely on who writes it. Content writers are indeed an indispensable asset in content marketing. So you have to be very sure that you’ve picked the best writers for the job.
Hiring good content writers does not necessarily mean that you have to hire in-house writers. Not all companies can afford to spend on full-time content writers, nor do they need to. If you don’t want to hire an in-house writer, you can always go for freelance writers instead.
Narrato.io is a leading freelance content platform that lets you order content for your blog or website. It uses smart algorithms to match your job to the best and most qualified writers from a large pool of experienced, vetted content writers. You can also ask for any number of revisions until you’re completely satisfied with the content. The platform offers a nice trial option to get you started, which is a nice perk.
It is, however, important to remember that a content writer can only deliver what you ask for. Even though creating good content is the job of the writer, you are also responsible for giving out clear and precise guidelines. Set clear guidelines for the content including things like the topic, audience, tone of voice, any SEO guidelines and if possible, some suggestions around what you wish included in the piece.
5. SEO and keyword focus
Yes, quality of content is important but so is your content’s search engine visibility. To ensure that your content gets better rankings in search and appears at the top of the search engine results pages, paying attention to SEO is a must. Optimizing your content for search engines involves keyword research and conforming to Google’s search engine guidelines.
Find out which keywords will work best for your content. Keywords or phrases should not look out of place in your content and should be relevant to the topic. You can take the help of numerous keyword search tools for this, such as Moz Keyword Explorer or Ahrefs Keywords Explorer among others.
If you’ve not got access to any professional tools to carry out keyword research, open a new incognito Google search page and start typing keywords and phrases that relate to your content idea. As you type, watch carefully for Google’s suggested autocompleting search terms that pop up underneath the search bar as these can give you a deeper understanding of the content you should be writing about to generate organic traffic. This method is also a free and easy way to find SEO related search terms that you can add to your content to help maximise your post’s visibility. You could even go one step further and use free tools such as Answer the public to help you discover other content topics surrounding your niche to help you build a content marketing plan that will generate results.
Matt Janaway, MarketingLabs
Apart from using the right keywords, it is also important to follow other guidelines set by Google. For instance, long-form content is considered to be more authoritative and valuable for readers. So your content has to be of an optimal length, which is generally considered to be around 2000 words, to rank higher in search results. Adding backlinks to your website or to older posts, creating topic clusters by writing articles around a common topic is also great for SEO.
6. Promoting Content
Content creation is just the first part of your content marketing strategy. This high-quality content that you have created also needs to be promoted. Without proper promotion, your content fails to attract sufficient traffic.
To promote your content, you first have to know where your target audience can be found. Find out which social media channels they spend most of their time on. Social media is one of the best platforms to promote your content and reach out to a large section of your audience, for free. Using social media tools, you can manage this activity better. But for even better outreach, you may have to opt for paid promotions, as paid ads give you more visibility.
You can also try influencer marketing. You can tag some influencers from your niche in your posts or you could contact them personally asking them to promote your post. They may not always be open to the idea, but if there is a chance for them to gain something from it, they might agree.
Another great way of promoting your content is by repurposing it in various formats for different channels. You can convert your existing blog posts into other formats such as e-books, infographics, podcasts or videos. This repurposed content can be shared on appropriate platforms to reach out to a wider audience. Your audience may also enjoy watching a video or listening to a podcast more than reading through a long blog post.
Content creation is definitely not just about picking a topic and writing whatever you know about it. For a piece of content to be valuable, it needs careful planning and research. The 6 step process described above is a good starting point in this direction. Improvisation on the way based on analytics and content success measures will give you even better results. As they say – you can’t improve, what you can’t measure.
About the Author:
Neelam Goswami is a Content Writer at Godot Media, a leading content writing services agency. Her areas of interest include digital and content marketing. She is also an amateur artist and loves to spend time on creative work.
Wasiq Naeem is a content and digital marketing veteran who is passionate about his writing. Extensive research and producing high-quality content is just another day at the office for him.