By Saralyn Ciolek, Internet Marketing Consultant
Content Is King.
That phrase, made famous in an article written by Bill Gates in 1996, has become one of the guiding principles for writers, SEOs and digital marketers during the last decade. At the time, Gates explained the reasoning behind his assertion in this way:
"If people are to be expected to put up with turning on a computer to read a screen, they must be rewarded with deep and extremely up-to-date information that they can explore at will. They need to have audio, and possibly video. They need an opportunity for personal involvement that goes far beyond that offered through the letters-to-the-editor pages of print magazines."
Nowadays, the task of turning on a computer and loading a page is usually (and hopefully!) not as time-consuming as it once was. The role of content today isn’t so much to make up for the drawbacks of emerging technology as it is to establish a brand’s authority. Though its purpose may have changed slightly, content is still king; in fact, offering quality content is arguably more important now than ever before.
Today’s digital landscape is vast: It is a world where the exchange of information and purchase of goods and services happens with unprecedented immediacy. Now almost every brand has a digital presence, which means setting yourself apart from the competition is critical to your success. Offering relevant, engaging and targeted content is one of the most affordable and most effective ways to do just that.
But what makes for good content? To know whether your content is hitting the mark, ask yourself these 7 questions:
Is This Useful?
Web pages, blog posts, infographics, videos and, to a certain extent, even social media posts are only effective if they answer a question posed by the consumer or if they present new information that will benefit the reader. Think like your consumer and ask:
- How does the content you are creating add value to your site?
- Does it answer relevant search queries?
- Does it offer special value or a piece of information that they can’t get elsewhere?
- Does it solve a common problem?
At the end of the day – all bells and whistles and flashy graphics aside – people engage more with content that informs and empowers them. If your content is not useful, it may be time to head back to the drawing board.
Is This Relevant?
Let’s imagine for a moment that your business is in music. You wouldn’t likely write a blog on the incredible innovation of Walkmans, when popular culture has moved onto iPods, mobile phones and streaming music services for music on the go.
OK, that example may be a bit extreme (when’s the last time you saw a Walkman!?), but you get my point. The information you present your consumer must be relevant and timely. This is especially true in the medical and legal verticals, where research continues to evolve and landmark verdicts can influence entire markets. If your content provides up-to-date information that is not only relevant but cutting-edge, you establish yourself as the authority on the subject simply by being first out of the gate.
Where Will This Content Live?
It’s important to note the platform you are using to deliver your content. If you are writing a page for your website, for instance, the information included will vary greatly from content delivered on a social media platform such as Facebook or Instagram. Some versatile pieces of content, such as blog posts, videos and images, can be posted across many platforms.
To maximize your content strategy, it’s best to think through the details of where you will post each piece of content, if there are opportunities to cross-promote it on your other platforms and how it may be received on each.
Does This Establish, Enhance or Reinforce My Brand?
Branding through content can include many things. First and foremost, try to establish a brand voice that will resonate with your target audience. Is your demographic younger? Perhaps a casual, tongue-in-cheek tone is more appropriate than writing in a formal, scholarly voice. Or is your target audience professional peers? In that case, your writing should reflect the level of education and experience you have acquired, and should establish your brand as a thought-leader in your field.
Additional strategies to further enhance your brand through content might include using brand imagery, utilizing unique brand identifiers such as hashtag campaigns or employing content strategies that follow a calendar day, such as Motivational Monday.
Is There a Visual Component to My Content?
Never before has visual content been so important. In just the last two years, every major social media platform has responded to user demand by placing a higher value on photo and video content.
This is in part because our brains respond better to images: If you read an article, you will likely remember about 10% of it three days later. But if you pair a relevant image with the same content, studies show you will remember about 65% of that same information.
And it’s not just images alone that engage users: By the end of this year, it is expected that video content will represent 74% of all Internet traffic. If you haven’t added video to your content strategy yet, now is the time.
Have I Included SEO Best Practices?
There are many ways to optimize content so that the search engines smile favorably upon you. Three of the most important to consider:
- Internal links
- Search queries
Associating your business with your location is an important signal for the search engines and helps boost local SEO rankings. When possible, include information about community events, local presentations, volunteer work or sponsorships in which your practice has participated. This also shows the search engines that there is a real human, not a spam bot, behind your business.
Internal links are another way to optimize your content. Linking internally to another page on your site with relevant content provides a ready-made path for search engines to crawl and index your site, boosting your rankings for more than one page at a time.
Finally, research the most heavily searched queries for your topic, and try to use them in URLs, title tags, meta data and headings. Today’s optimization is not about keyword stuffing or fixating on the high-competition keywords of the past; it's about strategic placement of keywords to support relevant, well thought-out content that addresses a user's needs and goals.
Does This Content Help Me Achieve a Goal?
Ultimately, your content should help convert prospects into paying customers. That’s not to say your content should make a hard sell, and in fact, I would advise against it. But, make sure that your content is easily understood and entices the reader to act – whether by seeking out more information, signing up for your mailing list, picking up the phone or sharing it with their friends.
Now, remember: You want as many leads as possible. That means your content should speak to as many people as possible. If you are a lawyer, writing in very technical legal jargon will not speak to the masses of people who need your services. On average, American adults read at the 8th grade level. If your content is above their heads, you’ve lost their business.
Also, consider your goals when you are determining the length of the content you intend to post. For example, with blog posts, different lengths serve different purposes.
A shorter blog at 300-500 words should draw in longer-tail keyword searches and point the user to deeper information on the website. On the other hand, long-form blogs can be more authoritative, offering a self-contained, comprehensive resource on a subject important both to your practice and prospective leads.
Darla Upchurch, writer at Page 1 Solutions, explains:
“Long-form blogs give the user a lot of information in one place, but can be overwhelming to a casual Internet reader who doesn’t want to spend more than a minute or two getting a quick answer. It's best to use longer blogs for detailed topics that require more in-depth information.”
Ultimately, maintaining regular and relevant content is an effective way to garner attention from both your prospective customers and the search engines while establishing your brand as a leading authority in your field. Digital trends come and go, but content is, and always has been, king.
Do you need help developing a content strategy or consistently creating great content for your law firm or medical practice? Page 1 Solutions can help! Give us a call at 800-368-9910 to get started.