What can you do if your content marketing strategy isn’t generating the results you had in mind? It started out so well, with brilliant brainstorming sessions that yielded dozens of novel ideas. But now that you’ve published a few articles, the bloom is off the rose and disappointment is seeping in. Don’t get discouraged, creating good content takes work.
Great ideas aren’t enough to drive your content marketing to the top of the search results. If you really want to produce good content that keeps the reader hooked, you need a formula for success. Here’s ours.
Seven Steps to Creating Good Content Every Time
1. Keep Your Objectives in Mind
If we asked you for your content marketing objectives, what would you say? Would you spout off KPIs that you hope to improve, like the number of views or time spent on each view? Do you want to elevate your CTR or conversion rate?
If you’ve been thinking about your content in the context of numbers and metrics, you’re missing the point. All of those numbers will improve when you write your content the right way. That means that instead of thinking about numbers, you need to think about your readers.
When you put your public first, you’ll see the results you were hoping for. The line graphs will rise on their own. Trust the process. So, what should your objectives be? Here are the three that we always keep in mind.
Keep Your Reader Engaged
Reader engagement is the main goal. It starts with the headline that encourages someone to click on your article. From there, it’s all about writing in a way that encourages someone to keep scrolling. With proper heading placement and quality prose, your reader won’t want to back out of your page. That increased engagement tells algorithms that your content is actually worth promoting. You’ll see your search rankings rise and your readership grow.
Write Useful Content
Great writing and a catchy title will get readers through the first couple of paragraphs. But if you want your reader to reach the end, you need to ensure that every word matters. People have busy lives. The minute they feel that what they are reading isn’t delivering valuable information, they’re out.
So what makes content useful? First, it needs to be relevant to the reader. While your readers’ circumstances are beyond your control, you can still keep your writing from deviating into tangents and side notes that distract instead of inform.
And when it comes to informing, you need to toe the line between giving too much or too little information. Overexplaining basic concepts will bore the reader quickly. Likewise, dumping heaps of complex terms on the uninitiated reader is a one-way ticket out of your content. Conversely, however, you can’t gloss over important concepts or outright ignore major concerns a reader might have.
Establish Your Authority
Getting your readers through your article is a great accomplishment. However, you also want them to come back. A content writer needs to present the business as an authority on the issues they discuss. You want your reader to leave thinking “I need to come back here because they know what they’re talking about.”
This is a natural consequence of writing good content. You can give it a nudge in the right direction by linking to other reputable sources, covering topics as soon as news breaks, and by peppering your articles with a dash of your own experiences. With these objectives clear in your mind, it’s time to get to work.
2. Research Your Reader
Every line of quality content started with research. But the research that matters most isn’t necessarily the research about the topic. Instead, you want to focus on the reader. What are they looking for?
If you want your content to be useful, then you need to think about what your reader needs. For instance, we know that more and more businesses are switching to a content marketing strategy. The industry as a whole is poised to see over 14% growth year over year. That means there are lots of people who are just getting into content marketing for the first time.
Plenty of those people are business owners who are struggling to make it work. And many more are content writers who want to get in on this growing marketing trend but aren’t sure where to start. This article is for you.
Using Research Tools
We can rely on our intuition to some extent since we’ve been in the content game for a long time. But we still rely heavily on tools that give us a clear idea of what readers are searching for. Google Trends is how you keep your fingers on the pulse of the internet, and every marketing campaign should start there.
There are other tools that can be useful, like answerthepublic.com. This site takes a couple of keywords and shows you the questions people are asking in relation to those terms. You can craft the perfect headline or strategize a series of posts using this tool. You can find plenty more by looking for “search listening tools” or “keyword research tools”. Many of these are free with extra features if you decide to pay monthly.
3. Plan Your Draft
Once you’ve settled on keywords and know what your reader wants, it’s time to plan your writing. Before you start pummeling your keyboard, make an outline with the headings you’ll use in your content. This makes the actual writing much easier since you won’t have to constantly remember what you wanted to say next. It’ll also keep you from rambling too much in one part of your article.
Set a word count and get a ballpark figure for how many words should be in each section. Keep that in mind as you write and you’ll find good content pouring out your fingertips with minimal effort.
4. Write a Rough Draft
There’s a common saying in the writing world that your first draft will always be garbage. This isn’t wrong: great content is rarely produced in a single sitting. However, that doesn’t mean you can’t produce something decent in your first go around. As you write, you’ll see the quality of your first drafts steadily improve.
So don’t be shy about your writing. Go ahead and write garbage. You can always clean it up later. Having said that, there is one thing you should make sure you do well in your first draft:
Don’t Forget to SEO
If there’s one thing that you absolutely should pay attention to while writing your content, it’s SEO. Good SEO needs to be woven into your work discretely. If a line suddenly feels forced because it screams “look at this keyword!”, readers will be turned off.
So don’t make the mistake of adding SEO at the end of the process. It rarely flows smoothly and is quite noticeable. Instead, try to incorporate it in your first draft and make it a natural part of your writing.
5. Proofread and Polish
With your first draft done, you’ll want to go back and proofread your work. Clean up any grammar or spelling mistakes that you catch. You may want to consider using a third-party tool like Grammarly if you’re not confident in your own grammar knowledge.
Polishing means enhancing your work by removing repetition and trimming excess information. You might be surprised how many times you use basic words like “good” or “bad” instead of high-quality words like “excellent” or “awful”. Ctrl+F some of those phrases and your eyes will widen when you see the same word used a dozen times. Nothing turns readers off faster than copy that lacks creativity.
6. Add Images and Videos
Good content calls for more than just great words. You also need visual content that can engage your reader and keep them on the page. Images and videos have that potential. Google also approves and raises your SEO rating when you use these elements. But what if you’re not a video expert or Photoshop master?
Free stock footage sites like Pexels can help you get images for use on your website without copyright restrictions. If you’re looking to add video, remember that you don’t actually have to make it yourself. You can share useful content from other creators and talk about it in your article. Remember to add appropriate captions and metadata to these elements, as that will also contribute to your SEO.
7. Track and Revise
After you upload your content, you’ll want to monitor its performance and take notes. Analyze what your best work has in common and lean into that on your next piece. You may want to make slight changes or updates later on to keep your work fresh and optimized.
With practice, you can get this process down to a science and produce quality content every time. But if you’d rather leave it to professionals and save yourself the trouble, contact us at SteadyContent. Our team of writers knows how to craft excellent content regardless of the word count or topic. It’s content you can count on, every time.