Whether it’s blog posts, videos or podcasts, creating content is one of the most important things you should be doing for your business.
This is because content fulfils a number of important requirements. It gives your company character, demonstrates you know you know and understand your target audience, and it builds trust with potential clients.
However, to really make the most of your content efforts, it’s essential you’re doing a few things. If you’re just simply spamming out blogs, hoping that some will stick, you’re bound to be left burnout and jaded.
With that understood, let’s get started.
1) Make Sure That People Actually Want Your Content
For your content to be effective, people have to want it – it’s pretty obvious.
Still, how can you really know what content is suitable for your audience?
The best method is to check what people are typing into search engines and tailoring your content to those search requests.
For instance, if you sell meditation services and find out the phrase “how to meditate” is being typed into search engines; then you know you can (and should) write an article that addresses this.
Google Keyword Planner is an excellent tool for finding out what people are searching for online.
When you type in a keyword, Google Keyword Planner will generate related searches, including the number of times a particular phrase is searched for in a month.
What you’ll often find is that the keywords or key phrases you thought would be the most popular aren’t, and that people are actually using entirely different terms.
Building pieces of content that address popular keyword searches, rather than just your best guess, will allow you to both get more readers and provide a higher chance that they’ll enjoy it.
Knowing what people are searching for, however, is just one piece of the puzzle. You also want to know what type of content performs best amongst your competitors.
Apps like Buzzsumo help you find content in your industry that is mot popular. Not only this, it will show you the biggest influencers, which will help you to promote your content as well.
I’ve spoken about Buzzsumo on this article here so take a look if you need more information.
2) Provide Real Value To Your Audience
When people type a query into a search engine (like “how do I meditate”) they’re not necessarily looking for an immediate. Instead, all that they’re likely to be looking for is a solution.
The distinction here is crucial: people want detailed answers to their questions, not a sales page. As a result, if you want to provide content that builds trust, it needs to help solve a problem without asking for their money.
That particular problem could be anything, from how to effectively market content to how to fix a broken computer. As long as the content is related to your business, the purpose of the content should always to be to help the reader and not to push a service.
For some people, this approach might feel like a wasted opportunity, but it’s important to fight the urge to just sell, sell, sell. Online audiences are savvy, and they’ll soon work out if you’re only out for their money.
The way to generate real value is to help somebody solve a problem. By helping them to address a problem, you can quickly establish yourself as an authority and a brand that they can trust.
This makes it more likely that when they have a similar issue in the future, they will turn to your company, rather than one of your competitors.
3) Make It Entertaining To Read
Writing a solution to a problem is a step in the right direction, but if your content isn’t entertaining to read, your audience won’t finish it, and you’ll end up missing an opportunity to provide value.
There’s a tendency, among B2B companies in general, to write dry, professional articles that use a lot of long sentences and jargon. And while there is a place for that kind of writing in some business documents, it’s not ideal when you’re trying to help somebody, even if that person is a professional in another firm.
To avoid this, use natural, playful language and speak directly to your audience in a conversational tone. Bloggers in “boring” industries have been using this kind of prose for decades, which is one of the reasons why they have been so successful. They took corporate spiel and turned it into something accessible.
The next step is to think carefully about structure.
Content should be split up under multiple headings. This allows readers to skip from one section to the next, depending on which is relevant. It also helps them to navigate your document and finish reading it to the end: a wall of text is pretty intimidating.
Also, make sure your sentences are short and crisp to communicate ideas. Longer sentences are harder to read and understand. You need to get straight to the point and provide value as quickly as possible.
Another way to break up your text is by using multimedia such as videos and images wherever possible. Research shows that when articles contain some type of visual media, they are significantly more engaging than articles that do not.
Remember, the reason for making an article entertaining is to help readers finish the content and short sentences, images, a conversational tone – they all contribute to communicating the value you have to offer, ensuring that you solve your audience’s problems.
4) Make It At Least 1,000 Words Long
How much value can you provide somebody in a 500-word post? Not much.
That’s why you should aim for your articles to be at least 1,000 words long (and more if you can manage it). The reason for this is that it’s just too difficult to provide people with real, unique value with anything less.
This is also important for SEO, too, as search engines want to direct their users, including business users, to great web pages.
Google, for instance, knows that if searches on its platform return content users want, they’ll continue to use it and the company will get higher advertising revenue as a result. Search engines, therefore, have a vested interest in the usefulness of your articles.
There’s also hard data that this kind of approach works.
Researchers have investigated the effectiveness of article length on boosting rankings on Google. They found that articles that got to the top spot were typically between 1,500 and 2,000 words long.
Subsequent articles further down the search results were shorter on average, presumably because they provided less valuable information to users.
5) Consider Who You’re Writing For
This is a big one. The problem with many companies is that they tend to produce articles that are “writer-centred” rather than “audience-centred.”
Writer-centred articles are those that make perfect sense to a writer who understands a particular topic inside out but makes no sense to someone where the subject matter is unfamiliar.
What you ideally want to produce are audience-centred articles: posts which step into the shoes of your audience and guide them through a particular topic in terms they understand.
Essentially, this all comes down to understanding your audience. Can you see the problem you’re trying to solve from the perspective of the other side? And can you offer a solution in terms that they can make sense of?
So, start off by asking yourself who your primary audience is.
For example, if your primary audience is people who work in marketing departments, then you’re able to speak to them in terms of CRO, SEO and PPC.
On the other hand, if you were speaking to first-time entrepreneurs, you might want to speak in simpler terms and just mention paid advertising and Google.
As well as speaking their language, any content you produce should also be geared towards helping your target audience achieve their goals. You always want to have your audience’s objectives in the front of your mind while writing so that you can focus on helping them solve a problem.
For example, if you’re an outsourced sales team targeting freelancers, your article could talk about about how to help them close more deals.
6) Have A Defined Next Step
Writing an engaging article that helps someone is great but it’s important that you’re capitalising on their interest as much as you can.
This is why all content should have a defined next step – something that readers can do to take their relationship with your company to the next stage.
How you choose to do this will depend on your particular business. As a result, you need to think carefully about what kind of next step is suitable for you.
The most sophisticated articles are those that subtly lay the groundwork for the next step in the text itself.
There are many ways to do this, such as offering your readers an opportunity to download an opt-in, book in a call or sign up for your service.
For example, the article that teaches freelancers how to close more deals could link through to a service that answers their sales calls for them.
In other words, you explain the difficulty of the service, demonstrate you know how to fix it and then mention that you could manage the whole service for them.
This is particularly powerful because it’s likely that some of your prospective clients will get frustrated trying to solve the problem themselves and will want to get some extra help.
If you follow the advice set out in this article, you’ll achieve two things.
First, you’ll build trust from your audience by cementing yourself as an authority. People will think of you first when they have a problem in your particular area of expertise and will automatically seek out your services.
Second, you’ll be able to create compelling content that helps to engage your audience and deliver real value.
Master both of these, and your business is headed for success.
If you need any extra help with your content, make sure to leave your comment below or email me on firstname.lastname@example.org.