Web content has become the lifeblood of any modern business. Without content, you don’t have an online presence, and without an online presence, your brand may as well not exist at all. However, actually creating enough material to satisfy increasingly content-hungry consumers is only half of the battle. What also matters is that your content is of an excellent standard to the point that it provides a genuine value proposition to its target audience and truly complements your brand’s image.
One of the fundamental differences between great content and spam is that the latter is written more for the purpose of manipulating search engine algorithms rather than for human readers to enjoy. By contrast, great content has a clearly defined target audience. In other words, someone should be able to deduce from the title alone whether or not the content applies to them. Without a focussed audience, the best you can hope for is becoming nothing more than a passing distraction.
There’s no shortage of short blog posts online, and while short-form content has its place as fodder for social media, it’s more in-depth content that really sells. After all, you cannot provide much useful information in a 300-word article, particularly if it’s not backed up with excellent imagery. There are good reasons why content formats like in-depth anchor articles and whitepapers are becoming more popular. Simply put, they’re more useful to people, and they give your business someone to promote.
No one can argue that reading on the screen is quite a different experience to reading printed media, and it’s this fact that largely defines the difference between writing for print and writing for the Web. Most significantly, online audiences tend to skim through most content until they find the points that interest them the most. Relatively few visitors will read everything from beginning to end, and this is precisely why list-type articles are so popular online.
Although no one is immune from making the odd typo, grammar or spelling error, it’s pretty easy to tell when content is written by someone who doesn’t have an impeccable command of written English. Not only does poor writing make content harder to read – it also destroys any semblance of credibility for your brand. Content riddled with errors is commonly associated with spam as well, hence it can make a business look lazy, unprofessional and even downright suspicious.
One of the most common goals of any content marketing strategy is to build credibility, so it makes sense that your content should be well-researched. For example, if you make a statement of fact, backing it up will make it far more credible. After all, there’s no shortage of junk online, such as fake news stories with clickbait headlines. One of the key differentiators between this kind of spam and quality content is that the latter is research and verified.
Although some industries are inherently more visual than others, no content marketing strategy can be called complete without extensive visual content, such as photographs, infographics, and other illustrations. Studies have consistently shown that visual content increases comprehension and retention while also being more effective than text alone at influencing promotions and attitudes. Just be sure to avoid the clichéd stock images that many novices use.
Search engine optimization remains at the forefront of the digital marketer’s mind, but it doesn’t work like it did a few years ago. Nonetheless, many content marketers are still trapped in the old ways, which involve creating keyword-focussed content, often at the expense of user experience. However, recent Google algorithm updates have changed the way the search engine works to the extent that it focusses on user intent rather than simply matching keywords in queries to those in articles.
Keeping your target audience engaged through content requires extensive branding of the type that builds loyalty and recognition. Every brand has its distinct voice and style as well as its unique influencers and inspirational sources. It’s the uniqueness of your brand that ultimately sets it apart from the rest. As such, you’ll want to establish strict guidelines for your content creators. You can also further improve the effectiveness of your branding by interviewing leading influencers.
When you’re creating content for the Web, you’ll be thinking about things like social media shares and on-site feedback by way of blog post comments. Although it’s constantly said that content is king, it’s actually conversation that matters most, hence the need to take a conversational approach with your content. There are many difference ways to encourage conversation, such as by asking questions, raising controversy or simply inviting others to leave their opinions.
Original content is vital to your business since it helps to emphasize your unique value proposition. It also helps to establish your business as an authority and improve your visibility in the search engine results, since Google does not index duplicated pages. While duplicate content is not always a bad thing, the most effective content is that which is completely original and written specifically for your brand. Obviously, scraping and plagiarizing are completely out of the question.
It’s not always easy to craft outstanding content that really gets people talking, particularly if you’re not willing to pay for excellence and would rather take the cheap and cheerful route. Good content is both costly and time-consuming to create, but it will have a positive long-term effect on your brand like no other. After all, it’s better to have nothing more than a handful of well-written articles than hundreds of low-quality, spammy blog posts.