According to Internet Live Stats, there are roughly 1.7 billion websites in existence today with more than 3.5 billion Google search queries every day (and counting).
On top of that, your website has less than 15 seconds to capture a user’s interest.
So, how do you engage your audience in this ever-exploding digital universe?
The answer: captivating content.
Quality website content is the key to beating these statistics. Engaging, yet educational content that’s optimized for search engines and users, ranks high in search results and holds the readers’ attention.
Modern buyers aren’t interested in hearing a sales pitch; they immediately recognize an advertisement when they see one. The objective of content marketing, therefore, is to create value for customers before they even consider making a purchase! In fact, it has shown to generate three times more leads compared to other strategies.
Now that you know that content is arguably the most important tool that’ll help you achieve your business’s marketing goals, let’s look at how a solid content creation strategy can help you get a leg up on competition.
Content is One of the Top 3 Ranking Factors
Among the 200 ranking signals that determine a web page’s ranking in search results, Google has admitted that content is the top-most ranking factor — and not just any content, you have to create content that serves a purpose; it should be something that your target audience needs.
The Value of Original Content
If you publish original and unique content that’s useful for your audience, search engines will help your website get more exposure. Google has made it clear that brands that publish duplicate content with little or no manual creation will likely rate low in search engines.
In other words, Google wants to reward high quality sites that have original content. So, great content not only makes for a better website, but it also improves your search rankings.
Let’s look at some key steps that go into developing a strong, audience-focused strategy for your website content.
5 Actionable Steps in Creating Great Content
Know Your Goals
Ask yourself, “As a brand owner, why do I produce content?”
If you publish blog posts regularly simply because “Google likes fresh content,” stop right away. Much of this would probably be classified as thin content without any unique value.
The key to a good content creation strategy is to understand what every piece of content does for your brand.
Ask yourself these questions:
- How does my piece work towards achieving a wider marketing goal?
- Is it targeted and relevant to my target audience?
- What content format should I use to maximize its impact?
Research Your Audience
When creating content, website owners often focus on what they want to say rather than what their audience wants to read.
It’s essential to create website content with various audiences—personas—in mind, taking into account what matters most to them.
For instance, if you’re creating a site for a law firm, your primary audience may be your existing clients, while your secondary audience is much broader, including law reporters, prospective attorneys, business partners, and thought leaders. Make sure your content is both valuable and accessible to all these audiences.
- What challenges does your audience commonly face?
- What kind of questions are they asking regarding a particular topic?
- Which platforms are they most active online?
Once you’ve determined your key buyer personas, you’ll be able to create personalized content that’s relevant and targeted to their needs, interests and goals. In fact, experts believe that researching your target audience is a marketing must—to the point that 56% of some of the most elite marketers conduct audience research once per month!
Conduct a Website Content Audit
You can certainly benefit from a content audit even if you’ve been creating content for a while without a clearly defined strategy.
A content audit simply means to take inventory of all the indexable content on your site,analyze it against your performance metrics, and then use it to shape your future content strategy.
Breaking it down even further, an effective content audit consists of the following three components:
- Assess which content and strategies were most successful in securing page views.
- Figure out a way to improve the not-so-successful content.
- Create a plan to create and publicize your content.
Here’s how you can perform a condensed content audit:
- Compile all the indexable URLs on your site into a spreadsheet.
- Create columns for buyer persona, buyer’s journey stage, and content format, and then fill these categories in for each content piece.
- Add columns for key metrics like shares, page views, engagement (social shares), bounce rate, pages per session, new vs. returning users, etc. Here’s an example of a content audit spreadsheet.
- Finally, categorize all the compiled content (by highlighting it or using a new column) by those that are popular, need improvement, need to be re-written, or can be merged with other posts.
While a content audit may seem overwhelming, studies have shown that the manual labor will result in increased traffic and leads. What’s more, you’ll have a defined and verified plan moving forward.
For more guidance on a detailed content audit, check out this post.
Choosing The Right Content Format
Remember the buyer persona you researched and created? Now you need to craft content in a format that’s easily understandable and most enjoyable by those prospects.
For instance, if you have enough in-house resource and an audience that’s looking for easily-digestible content, animated videos and podcasts are a great investment.
Conversely, if your prospects have a high attention space but your company has limited time and budget, then infographics are a great choice to deliver information.
Here are some content essentials to create for your website:
- Thought leadership blogs
- Case studies/ client testimonials
- Compelling ‘About Us’ page
- Up-to-date job postings
- Services information
- Premium content (such as eBooks, whitepapers)
- Videos (featuring your company’s vision and mission, client testimonials, etc.)
Here’s a complete list of content formats that you can explore. As long as it is created with a purpose in mind, you’re in good shape.
Most businesses get the best results by mixing things up and creating content in various formats. This not only keeps your audience engaged and interested, but also helps you figure out which type of content works for you.
Here are some questions that you can use as a guide when opting for a content format:
- What stage of a buyer’s journey is this aimed for?
- How easily can the audience consume this content?
- Does your content match the competition?
Which format is doable on a consistent basis?
Assign The Right People To The Task
Part of a successful content strategy is developing a process for writing the content.
Go over the topics you need to cover and identify the individuals in your firm who are thought leaders in the targeted niche. You can even leverage your firm’s technical staff to help you create content. In case you don’t have enough resources in-house or if writing isn’t your forte, outsource content writing to a freelance copywriter or an agency that’s reliable and diligent with deadlines. By clearly defining roles and subject matter experts for your content, you’ll be able to ensure accountability and consistency with your publishing.
The Content Creation Process
Follow these steps to create impactful content:
An effective content strategy always starts with keyword and user intent research. Since your web pages rank on the basis of your targeted keywords, if you do a bad job at selecting the right keywords, all your efforts could go in vain. Therefore, it’s vital you get keyword optimization right. A good way to start with keyword research is to do a brainstorm and jot down questions that your persona may have based on their goals and obstacles. After the initial brainstorm, enter these keywords/phrases in the search bar of a search engine and take note of the suggestions that appear.
To make things easier, you can use keyword research tools like Google’s Keyword Planner tool to find keywords relevant to your niche. Since the tool presents thousands of keyword results, a good rule of thumb is to target keywords that are attainable—targeting highly competitive keywords when you’re just starting out may not pan out well for you.
Pay Special Attention To Mobile Keywords
With mobile devices accounting for 48% of worldwide web traffic, optimizing for mobile searches should be one of your top priorities.
What’s more, according to Google, 94% users search for location-based info. This means that you need to target keywords like ‘nearby’ and ‘near me’ if you have a brick-and-mortar store.
Utilize Long-Tail Keywords
If your business is just starting out, your best bet is to target low-volume, long-tail keywords with minimal keyword difficulty. These keywords consist of 3–4 phrases and are very specific to what you’re selling.
You see, whenever a searcher uses a highly specific search phrase, like ‘guided Sonoma County hiking tour,’ they’re typically looking to make a buying decision. The best part? These highly specific multi-word phrases are far easier to rank than generic keywords. Moreover, adding semantically-related ‘supporting’ keywords allows search engines to better understand the searcher’s intent.
The Writing Process
The content creation process follows similar guidelines:
Write with the Audience in Mind
Avoid using internal jargon and use verbiage that is understandable by your audience. Use their euphemisms, their voice and their humor to construct a resonating piece.
Stick to One Idea and Reinforce it with your Content
Rather than explaining multiple semi-related topics in a single blog, write several blogs that give you a chance to elaborate on individual topics.
Be Clear and Concise
Your audience needs to derive value from your content and relate to it rather than sift through jargon and confusing metaphors.
Utilize Long-Form Content
Approximately 10% searchers are looking for online resources on broad topics to learn information.Well-researched and credible long-form content (minimum of 1200 words) are not only popular with users, but they also promote your image as an industry expert.
Fix Technical SEO Issues
Let’s look at some technical SEO aspects that you need to take into account when creating content:
Highly Descriptive Page Titles And Meta Descriptions
The headline/title of your content will be the reader’s as well as the search engine’s first step in figuring out the relevancy of your content.
Use primary keywords within the title — ideally towards the start of the title tag. This increases the title’s click-through rate (CTR). Same goes for meta descriptions. Make sure the description is unique, concise, engaging, and satisfies the searcher’s intent.
Search Engine-Friendly URLs
Search engines look at your URL to figure out the context of your content, and it’s the first thing it crawls on web page. Take advantage of this opportunity and optimize your URL to gain more clicks.
- Make sure it includes target keywords
- Use hyphen to separate different parts
- Make sure your URL is short yet descriptive
For example, ‘https://www.domain.com/how-to-do-your-own-seo.php’ tells the user what the web page is about at a glance.
Optimize For Page Speed
According to Google, a load-time of 2 seconds is the acceptable threshold for ecommerce website, although the aim should be for less than half a second.
What’s more, page speed is directly related to your website’s visibility in search results. As your load-time goes from 1 to 10 seconds, the probability of a mobile user bouncing from your site increases by 123%.
Therefore, it pays to improve Page Speed and website owners are encouraged to optimize their sites using Google’s recommendations.
Focus On Internal Linking
Internal linking is the practice of spreading link equity and establishing site structure by connecting one page of a website to a different page on the same site.
This has 3 main purposes:
- Improves site navigation and allows the user to stay engaged on the site.
- It facilitates search engines to explore more web pages within the same site.
- It helps spread ranking power (link equity) throughout the website.
Add Contextual Links
If you’ve written several articles for a certain topic, link them with each other. Moreover, make sure to add a link to your cornerstone article—your most essential content that you want Google to find—in all other articles on your site.
For example, if your cornerstone article is ‘An Ultimate Guide to Keyword Research,’ add links from other articles like ‘What is keyword research’, ‘Keyword research mistakes to avoid’ to the main article.
Therefore, optimizing for mobile devices is no longer an option!
After mobile-first index first rolled out, what followed was later termed as mobilegeddon: Google released new ranking algorithms designed to give mobile-friendly pages a boost in mobile search results.This means that you’re likely to miss out on a chunk of web traffic if your web pages aren’t responsive.
Optimizing content for mobile devices includes:
- Minimizing HTTP requests. According to Yahoo, 80% of a website’s load time is spent downloading images, scripts and stylesheets.
- Using responsive resizing tools to ensure images load speedily on mobile phones.
- Making sure the text is readable on the small screens.
Making sure the videos are understandable even if they’re muted since 85% of Facebook videos are watched without sound.
Use Header Tags To Provide Structure
When creating content, make sure your web pages are properly formatted. This means using header tags—HTML tags ranging from H1 to H6—to improve readability through headings and subheading throughout the content. Plus, easily readable text equals improved user experience and ultimately better SEO rankings.
- Include keywords in the header tag.
- Optimize header tags for featured snippets by using long-tail voice search keywords or bulleted/numbered list.
- Use headers to break up text.
- Make headers interesting and scannable. People like to skim through content and an article that’s scannable is 58% more likely to perform better with readers.
Measure And Track Performance
The key to a successful content strategy is ensuring that it is relevant to your audience. This calls for constantly evaluating and tracking your website’s performance.
Look at the pieces that are popular and getting the most views versus those that aren’t getting as much traction.
You can also use online SEO tools to find out how long visitors are spending on each web page. Use your goals as parameters to analyze your content.
Track Keyword Rankings
Once you’ve created content and launched your website, the next step is to find out how your web pages are performing on SERPs — after all, ranking high in search results is one of our SEO goals. A keyword rank checker tool, like RankGenie, gives you an overall picture of the keywords you’re targeting and the keywords you’re ranking for at the click of a button.
Moreover, you can use this keyword tracker to troubleshoot traffic drops and take immediate action. The tool sends you an alert the moment there’s a downward—or even upward— spike.
Use Analytics To Analyze Traffic
Google Analytics is perhaps one of the most comprehensive tools on the internet that gives you an instant status on your website’s mishaps, opportunities and health. The only problem? Most website owners aren’t aware of its features—leaving a great opportunity for optimization on the table.
Here are some of our favorite features of Google Analytics:
Track Website Conversions With The Goals Feature
Choose goals for specific web pages of your site and track them consistently. These can be:
- Page views
- Organic traffic
- Bounce rate
- Conversion rates (percentage of visitors that engage with the CTA)
- Engagement rates (percentage of visitors that interact through likes, shares and comments)
This feature gives you a look into your site’s demographic, geo-location and key browsing behaviors. These direct, actionable reports help you tweak your marketing campaign to attract more visitors.
Track Website Visitors with Flow Visualization Graphics
These reports allow you to view the steps your visitors took when exploring your site, including backtracks. This way, you’ll get a snapshot of how your visitors engage with your content and at what point are you likely to lose them along the way. Your website isn’t a once-and-done project. Use SEO tools to analyze your website metrics and refine web pages accordingly—gradually improving user experience.
Listen To Your Audience
Finally, take control of your brand’s online conversation through a business reputation management strategy. It involves techniques and strategies that ensure your audience finds the right information when they look you up online.
Business reputation management also allows you to counteract misleading trends and gives you the opportunity to put your best foot forward. A strong business reputation allows you to attract and retain customers. In fact, executives from large enterprises and agencies believe that nearly half of the brand’s market value lies in its reputation.
What’s more, 90% of online viewers read online reviews before making a purchase. Therefore, it’s important to ensure that your online identify reflects your brand’s credibility rather than drive sales away.
Get On Social Media
Well-managed social media platforms give your brand a human voice—that people trust. Use this to your advantage; engage with your audience, ask for their feedback, and upload valuable industry news periodically to further establish your credibility.
Take Advantage Of Local Review Sites
Research shows that you can garner your business nearly $8,000 per year by simply creating a Yelp listing. Make accounts on TripAdvisor and Google My Business to get on top of reviews published about your brand.
Address Customer Concerns
Studies have shown that 89% consumers read businesses responses to reviews before making a purchasing decision. So, if you come across a negative review, a quick, polite and empathetic statement that acknowledges the customer’s concerns is your best tool.
Having a solid website content creation strategy is essential in today’s digital landscape where search rankings are driven by quality content.
Content helps visitors find your website, and the relevance and quality of your content make these visitors stay and move through your site. The beauty of content is that it’s timeless—something that you’ve written today will be viewed and shared three years from now, consistently bringing traffic back to your site.
Furthermore, remember that content creation is an iterative process. It requires you to keep on updating your site with fresh and purposeful content, maintain evergreen content, use social listening to build on your successes and then scale up to secure more of the market.
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