This is a guest contribution from James Scherer.
Do you struggle for content inspiration? Do you feel like every article you write is exactly like another you’ve already written or read?
You’re falling victim to content stagnation, and it’s something we all deal with.
Perhaps you need a refresher, a reminder, or just someone to give you a few new ideas – a nudge along the way.
This article will give a full look at how to encourage and capture readership, optimize for action and engagement, and get the most out of your content – the full gamut of content marketing best practice.
I’ll refocus you on the five steps that you need to take to create interesting content that get shares, comments, engagement and loyal readers as well as content that generates leads.
Let’s make sure you’re doing this content creation thing right.
I wish I could tell you that the title of your content doesn’t matter anymore, that your content’s readers, visitors, viewers and listeners have grown more discerning in the past couple years and now it’s all about the quality of your content: the expertise, experience and analysis you throw painstakingly into each and every article, podcast, video and presentation.
Unfortunately, I can’t do that for you.
Your content’s title is hugely important to its success – not just because of search optimization but for clickability, shareability and engage-ability.
Without a title that snaps, grabs the eye, intrigues, frustrates, scares or humors, your content will fall flat on its face, no matter that it’s the second coming of Gangnam Style.
It’s taken me a bit too long to accept this fact, but fact it is nonetheless: SEO is antiquated and incomplete, a universal term of use we should steer away from.
Let me back that up, because I hear some of our SEO readers sharpening their pitchforks and lighting their torches.
Optimizing your content for search is still hugely important, but we should stop using it as an umbrella phrase when what we actually mean is optimizing for readership, engagement and conversion.
This is the general SEO stuff: the strategies we implement to get our content to the top of the front page of Google.
Content engagement, also known as social shares and comments, is not only important because of the Hummingbird Algorithm (Google’s update to SEO a year ago that placed more importance on social endorsements) but because the more your content is shared, the more readers you have. Duh!
We’re blogging for business here, not musing about the trials and tribulations of maternity (unless you are… In which case you still need to be optimizing your content for conversion!)
Think about it, is there any real point in your article being at the top of Google’s search results or having a million readers a week if nobody’s acting on your CTA buttons, downloading your ebooks, registering for a free trial or subscribing to your email list?
No. No there’s not.
Here are a few ways you can optimize your content for a real-world conversion (something that helps your business in a concrete, measurable way):
The longer you can keep a reader looking at your page, the less likely they are to leave it, the more likely they are to share it, and the more likely they are to convert on one of your “Asks” spread across your optimized blog.
Your title, hook and introduction get them to stay for the first 10 seconds (the most crucial section of your article as, if they stay for more than 10 seconds, the chance of them leaving drops like a rock):
Beyond those first ten seconds, your articles (or podcasts or webinars) needs to be structured to encourage readers to stick with it and stay engaged.
Articles with images are shared twice as much as those without.
But I’d like to emphasize that it’s not just any image that encourages a share or keeps a reader scrolling. You have to be using awesome images.
Put time into original image content (even if you’re just drawing over and citing someone else’s pie chart). Put time into getting to know PhotoShop, GIMP, even Google Drawings or Presentations.
For instance, I made this with the Google Presentation tool in about 6 minutes:
I know. It’s awesome.
Images not only encourage social sharing, communicate data and statistics quickly and grab the eye of the reader, they also humanize your business and make your articles more visually appealing and scrollable.
When used badly, however, they can cause your readers to go elsewhere, your articles to flop socially, and your authority to decrease significantly.
Stock images, for instance, are increasingly recognizable for what they are. As a result, they’re increasingly becoming one of the chief causes of a page bounce:
I mean, c’mon:
And don’t force an image. They should always serve a purpose (as “teamwork” rarely, if ever, would above). Instead, communicate the stuff that adds to the value of your article (statistics, case studies, industry report findings, etc) in a visually appealing way.
Content audiences (the people that listen, read and watch your content) are fickle creatures. They’re skim-readers, hyped up on coffee with not enough time on their hands and an urgent desire to, essentially, channel-surf content.
Channel surfing is actually a pretty solid analogy now that I think about it.
Your content audience is like a TV watcher before we had Netflix: sitting slouched on their couch hitting the “up” button on their remote control, searching for something they haven’t seen before. More often than not they’re disappointed (as your “10 Marketing Best Practices You Haven’t Seen Before” article is a blatant lie).
But sometimes they land on your article, give it the standard three seconds, and decide they’ll put the remote control down on the couch, cross their arms, and watch.
But how do you ensure your content engages your reader more than the other 100,000 shows on TV right now?
People like content relevant to them. Even more than that they like content relevant to them written by an author recognizable to them with a story they can relate to. The more like your reader you can be, the better your content will be.
That’s not to say you don’t have to tie your story into genuine, professional analysis of changes or best practices in your sector – but make it interesting and make it recognizable.
Transparency in marketing is becoming best practice (just look at Buffer if you want to know what I’m talking about). It’s about being an open, honest, modern company – a company that plays foil to the murky, underground goings-on of multinational corporate giants or the federal government.
Consider articles entitled something like:
What is it about you as a content creator that sets you above your competitors. Is it your ability to pump out content, your silky-smooth podcast voice, or your never-ending anecdotes that entertain and educate?
Increasingly your content audience is looking for something to differentiate you (and your content) from that of your competitors. It’s like when applying for university or a job: readers are receiving thousands of applications every day and they’re struggling to separate the wheat from the chaff.
Here’s what I recommend: make your application bright pink, printed on poster paper, covered in golden glitter, or make it a pop-up book. Do something that sets you apart.
A few recommendations to set your content apart:
Or, honestly, just get creative every once in a while (I’m not talking about every single article) but test adding personality to your content periodically to see what kind of return you get.
Hopefully that’s given you a refresher course (or even an educational one) on how to optimize your content for readership, engagement and loyalty.
Content marketing is officially (there’s no arguing anymore) the best way to increase your business’ online profile, generate leads and ensure brand authority. It can be a challenge though, don’t get me wrong.
My main recommendation for creating content that snaps, crackles and pops is to put time into how you start your article. Focus on finding the right topic, the right title, the right structure and the right way to make it different. Then start writing.
Originally at: Blog Tips at ProBlogger
Reblogged 2 years ago from feedproxy.google.com