Any reputable guide to content marketing insists that high-quality content is essential. This is very true, but it’s also an easy line to throw out. What does high quality actually mean in practice? Here are nine ways to help make sure your content hits the level you need.
1) Find Your Topic
Content is only useful if there’s a genuine audience for it. Research your market by monitoring news outlets or industry competitors’ content to see which topics provoke the most reaction. Look for related hashtags on social media, and see which ones attract lively conversation. Use Q&A sites like Quora to see what kinds of questions are commonly asked. In essence, see what’s already popular online and use that to spark your creativity.
2) Find the Gap
But in most niches, most of the topics you find will have been covered over and over again. What can you do better? How can your content find a new angle to make it unique and compelling?
3) Stay Focused
Once you’ve decided on a topic and angle, don’t try and produce an opus every time. It’s better to home in on a narrow subtopic and nail it rather than cover all bases badly.
If a topic genuinely needs thousands of words, split it into a series of smaller articles. They’ll be better focused and more likely to be read through to the end.
4) Get a Writer On Board
Some blogs or social media accounts thrive on quirky personality, and a lack of polish is part of the charm. However, this rarely translates into pro-level, effective content marketing.
Perception of your brand’s value will be quickly eroded if you use amateurish, simplistic content to promote it. For long-term success, you need professional writers on board, whether you hire in-house, use an agency, or work with freelancers.
5) Develop a Style Guide
Strong branding also relies on consistency. If you’re using multiple writers, your brand’s ‘voice’ can easily become muddled as each one applies their own style. While you don’t want to encourage anonymous content, drawing up a style guide helps keep your writers focused on your brand requirements.
Set out in writing the general tone you want to use, whether or not idioms are encouraged, whether a first or second person should be used, and so on. You don’t want to place your writers in a creative straitjacket, but consistency is key.
6) Be Authoritative
If you’re including hard data or research in your content, make sure you cite your sources to develop your authority. Don’t be afraid to mention third parties or even competitors in your piece if it backs up the strength of your argument. The boost to your brand authority more than outweighs any risk of traffic leakage.
7) Use Images Effectively
Careful use of images makes your content appear more professional and also helps draw attention to the core text content. However, make sure the images you use to justify their place and aren’t just an afterthought.
There’s no need to spend a fortune on custom photography, but at the same time avoid the cliched stock photos which have appeared on thousands of other sites already.
Aim for a combination of relevancy, originality, and technical quality if you want an image to make full impact.
8) A Weather Eye on SEO
Search engine optimization may not be quite the driving force it once was, but you can’t ignore it when putting your content together. Make sure you use relevant, popular keywords and a wide variety of synonyms throughout, especially in titles and headings.
However, natural language that engages is your overriding priority. Clumsy, keyword-stuffed content works for neither readers nor search engine algorithms.
9) Monitor and Adapt
Lastly, be sure to check the ongoing performance of every piece of content you publish. Look for traffic, social media shares, conversions, search engine rankings, and any other metric that’s relevant to your business. Over time you’ll build up a good picture of what works best for your objectives.
Content marketing is immensely powerful if it’s done right. But with millions of words published each day, your own content needs to stand out if it’s to make an impact. While you can’t necessarily predict the spark of genius that’ll make your content really sing, these underlying essentials provide a solid foundation to build on.