Create Your Content
Now that you’ve got a plan in place and actionable steps in front of you, it’s time to start creating high-quality, value-adding content.
The reality is that the internet’s a very noisy place, so if you want to stand out from the rest, you have to be focused on producing something both delightful and engaging. So today, we’re going to focus on what makes content great and some best practice guidelines to follow.
Keep these in mind each time you create new content, and you’ll already be way ahead of your competitors:
1. Be original. Google has made it plain that they do not like and will penalize sites with duplicate content. So, if you keep it fresh and original, search engines will help your site get more exposure.
2. Have a strong headline. A good headline sparks interest and invites readers in. According to Copyblogger, 80% of people will read your headline, but only 20% of those people will read the rest of your content. Because of this, your headline is as important—if not more important—than the content itself.
3. Make it actionable. Give readers advice or suggestions on how they can apply the knowledge you’re giving them, and be explicit about what you want them to do next. This is referred to as a call-to-action (or CTA), and you should always include one. It could be anything from forwarding to a friend, to visiting your website or retweeting a post.
4. Give answers. Most people search something because what they ultimately want is an answer, and it’s the search engine’s job to deliver that answer. It’s the same when people are reading your white paper, viewing an infographic, or watching a video—they want to gain knowledge so they have the answer to something they didn’t have before.
5. Get to the point. People don’t just want answers, they want answers fast. Make your content easy to digest (like Highbrow does) so people can pick up the juicy, important bits quickly. Eliminate the fluff and don’t focus on word count. Some topics take 2,000 words to explain, some take 200—and that’s okay. A longer blog post or video does not mean it’s better.
6. Add visual cues. People learn differently and have different preferences for how they learn something new. What’s also true, though, is that no one learns less by having visual aids. Whether you use photos, videos, or screenshots, they can help get your point across. Whenever you create written content, add pictures, but only ones that help or provide value rather than distract the reader. And steer clear of any horrible stock photography! Here’s a handy list of websites to source quality royalty-free images from.
7. Speak their language. Understand how your audience thinks and speaks, and talk their language. Avoid jargon or technical terms if their knowledge in your space is limited. Use personal language to truly connect with your audience and make them feel something. Doing this will also help you with search engine optimization (SEO) because you’ll be using the same language your audience would to search for an answer to something.
8. Be consistent. This includes your design, your tone of voice, your everything. Following style guides, both for language and design, helps people understand and learn what you are trying to communicate. It’s key to building a strong brand and will help you build authority and credibility with your readers because they know what to expect from you.
If you like, print this off or keep it somewhere prominent as a reminder each time you create new content, almost like a checklist. Then, once you’ve created your content and made sure you followed the principles above, you need to promote it, which is what we’ll expand on tomorrow.
See you then,
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