The growth of content marketing has placed a huge spotlight on the need for generating great content. There’s always been fierce competition for the highest ranking website, but now the playing field has changed. Prospects’ buying behaviours have changed. They spend more time researching online and search engines have responded. So should you if you want your information to be seen.
What makes great content?
The best way to understand what makes great content is to put your work to the test. Ann Handley from Marketing Profs University advocates a clever formula for evaluating how good your content is. Handley says that good content must comprise a number of components as per the formula: Useful x Enjoyable x Inspired + Innovative Content. She says that each of these components must contain a value more than zero if content is to be innovative.
Meanwhile, the web is making it easier for people to find good, relevant content. Google Hummingbird, for example, is a new algorithm which enables the search engine to understand the intent behind people’s search requests rather than just look for keywords.
Today’s content has to reflect this. A content writer needs to dig deeper. He or she must preempt what people want to know, see and search for. The writer needs to understand their approach and capture their attention by doing things a bit differently. What words, terms and phrases might they use, for instance? And what answers are they looking for? Today’s search engine optimisation (SEO) involves thinking harder about what we write to make content more valuable and interesting – worthy of reading and sharing. For example, this blog is entitled ‘How to create great content’ so I need to deliver on my promise by offering ideas on how to do just that. So, here are my six tips for writing great content:
- Work harder to understand what customers are looking for. Get to know your customers or prospects with almost unnerving intensity. Churning out generic content is a waste of time. They want details: What does this product actually do? How does it work? How will it improve my life? How can I be sure? Who else uses it and to what effect? Why is it better than the alternatives? Marketing professionals working on content plans need to understand their clients just as intimately. KG Moore, for example, works closely with fewer clients so that we can spend more time understanding their products and services, and the needs of their customers.
- Understand the brief. Content writers often make two mistakes, the first of which is to write without a brief. A piece of content needs to fulfil a clear purpose and take a specific direction. Make sure you know exactly what you want to achieve from your copy. And what type of content do you need to deliver – blog, web page, case study? This page from the Content Marketing Institute provides a comprehensive list of content types. The second mistake is to deviate from the brief. Make sure you understand the message, angle and conclusion you or your client wants to achieve. Know your audience and keep your objective in mind.
- Invest time and effort in your subject matter. Good content does not regurgitate information that’s already available on other sites in a quick 800-word article. A great content writer invests time and thought into generating ideas. He or she works closely with clients over time to get under the skin of their business, to understand their service or product, to become familiar with internal and external influences to that business, and to apply that knowledge to copy.
- Interview for original material, thoughts and ideas. It never ceases to amaze me how few sites suggest interviewing as a way of creating great content. Think about it. Consumers already have a high-level understanding of a given topic, which is probably why they’re searching online for more detail. As a content writer, unless you’re an expert in dozens of different fields, it’s unlikely you can offer a huge amount more. A great writer will tap into the wealth of information that’s in the heads of colleagues, clients or clients’ customers who are true experts in the field. It’s vital to do the research and ask the right questions, even get real-life examples. It’s a brilliant way to answer the questions consumers are likely to have about a product or service. And it gives them something new. Don’t forget to ask permission to publish your interviewees’ names and ideas. Meanwhile, credit all your sources and provide links to your website and other websites that support your ideas, provide useful information to the reader and enhance SEO.
- Use plain English. So, you’ve conducted a great interview about the benefits of a technical product, for example. Now the trick is to translate the information you’ve gathered into content that’s readable, accessible and easy to understand. Don’t assume people will grasp complex terms, and avoid jargon and acronyms at all costs. And remember, if you – the writer – don’t fully understand something, there’s a good chance most of your readers won’t either. Simple explanations for difficult concepts are hard to find, so the discovery of a really straightforward explanation is like striking gold. Great content makes virtually any topic accessible. Your readers will love you for it and they’ll keep coming back.
- Proofread proofread proofread. Last but not least, check spelling, grammar and syntax. It’s OK to be fastidious about delivering content that’s free of errors. It will give your content more credibility, it will look more professional, it will be more searchable and it’s just common sense.
If you’d like to know more about creating great content or you’d like help with your content plan, KG Moore is here to help. Please get in touch on 01206 646 006.