One of the things you’ll hear the most from Google – and from SEO professionals – is that Content Is King. The way they make it sound, if you don’t have fresh and engaging content on your website that draws people in and makes them want to link back, share, and explore the rest of your site, then you might as well shut your website down now and go back to listing yourself in phone books.
But most of us aren’t prize-winning journalists or Nobel Laureate authors, and content creation is a big, scary elephant in the room. You know that you need to do something with it, but what?
Well, fear not. We’ve been in exactly the same place, and we know how hard it can be to get started making and sharing your content online. Trust us – once you get the hang of it, you’ll never look back.
1. Think about what you want to achieve
Remember back in middle school, when you had to write a book report about the book you’d read as a class? Your teacher probably said that the most important thing every book report and essay needs is a thesis – a main idea, a point, a reason for existing. And if you were a good student you remembered that rule, and you gave your writing a strong main idea. If you were like us, though, you dutifully nodded your head and then went home to play Nintendo and forgot all about it.
Well, here we are again. The first thing you need to do when creating a piece of content is decide on a thesis. In other words, what’s the point of this piece? What are you trying to say or do? Do you want people to learn something from you, or simply be entertained? Once you have figured out your purpose in creating the content, it will be much easier to create a framework for how your content should look and feel.
2. Determine what you can offer
People read, watch, and listen to content because they either want to learn something new or find something entertaining. Like we said before, you need to decide whether your goal is to entertain or inform. After that, you need to figure out how.
Writing an entertainment piece is, from a business perspective, a risky venture. Your content could go viral (such as those Old Spice commercials) but it’s just as possible you’ll come across as cheesy, dated, or over-eager and be discounted by the Internet as a whole. Remember that Internet consumers have literally billions of hours of video at their fingertips, and more pages of text to read than have ever been printed. If you don’t think you can stand out from that, then perhaps entertainment isn’t your venue.
Writing a strong information piece, though, is much more feasible. A good place to start is with your own business, and what you might know about it that the average person doesn’t. If you can give useful inside knowledge to people that they can apply in their own lives (or at least that they feel like they’ve learned from), they’ll be far more likely to share that content and remember it later on.
3. Presentation is everything
Once you’ve written a shining example of great content, you need to get people to see it. But before you start blasting it out to the Internet, you need to consider how it will look. If you’re writing a blog post, for instance, you need to think about the headline you’ll put at the top, the format of the post, and the images you’ll include. The Internet is a very visual place, and it’s easy to lose people’s interest. Make sure your content is set up to grab attention and keep it. Lists are a good way to keep people engaged, as are eye-catching images, charts, and infographics.
4. Share, share, share
You’ve written your blog post or put together your killer slideshow or video. Now you need to get people to see it. According to Google, once you create quality content you’ll automatically get inbound links and shares, because content is what makes the Internet go ‘round. But if you don’t want to wait around to be discovered by the Internet naturally, you need to put your content somewhere that online users like to congregate.
With plenty of options when it comes to sharing content, this can be just as daunting as the actual creation phase. Facebook and Twitter are the most popular places to share new content, but if you don’t already have a strong follower base then what you’ve made isn’t likely to go very far.
If you’re just starting out, it’s better to share on public sites with a niche interest that corresponds to your content. So, if you’re a landscaping company that just made an awesome list article of landscaping projects, you can share that on Facebook and other social media groups dedicated to landscaping, outdoor living, home design, and so on. Meanwhile a tech company with a new product might try sharing on relevant technology websites and social media groups. Focus on your specialty and on finding people who are already interested in what you have to say.
Once you’ve begun designing and sharing content on a regular basis, you’ll find that your audience increases and people start to engage more. Bear in mind that this is not a simple, one-time process. You will only get from your content what you put into it, and you need to keep up the hard work in order to build your rank and your online presence. So get to work on your fresh online content – the web is waiting.
Have more ideas for what makes great content online? Leave a comment below to share your thoughts!