Content marketing generates at least three times as many leads when compared to outbound marketing and according to some experts, it drives website conversions at a rate that is six times higher than that of traditional marketing.
Small businesses that blog have 120% more leads than one that doesn’t, and I’m sure we all understand the statistics as well as what they mean for own success online.
But, not all of us are content writers or editors – although that doesn’t necessarily stop people from creating and publishing content. Often the results are great, but other times…
And that’s why I’ve written this article.
In it, you’re going to learn how to create interesting, high-quality content that your audience is actually searching for. You’ll also learn how to create content that search engines can find and understand, as well as to ensure that people can consume it with ease.
Here are some of the best practices you should follow as you move through your content creation process:
1. Develop Buyer Personas
These are simply profiles of what your ideal customer looks like. Also called customer avatars, buyer personas are extremely important for the success of your business.
According to a lot of studies conducted online, businesses that use these personas in their marketing strategies are four times more likely to succeed than those that don’t.
So if you don’t want to waste time and miss your marketing goals, then this is something you should do to ensure that you’re creating content that both the audience and the search engines will love.
For instance, say you’re in real estate. Your customer personas could represent either a homeowner who is motivated by saving money or a homeowner motivated by going green.
In fact, both of these people could be your customers, but when you have clear customer personas, you know exactly how to create relevant content that will appeal to each of them.
As an example, you might create blog posts with the following titles:
Content ideas for the first buyer persona:
‘Is your utility bill calculated correctly, or are you paying more than you should?’
‘Five things you don’t know that may be raising your utility bill’
Content ideas for the second buyer persona:
‘Five unique ways to reduce your carbon footprint in Arkansas’
‘10 most popular ways of making your house green’
Both examples are of blog content aimed at the awareness stage of your customer journey but designed to appeal to different types of customers.
It’s important to map all the content that you create to the different stages that your customers go through when interacting with your brand – from awareness to consideration to decision-making, and beyond.
Consider your target audience – the people you want reading or viewing your content, and always create content with them in mind. I’ve written a few posts on how to develop buyer personas for your business on my blog.
You can check them out to learn more about this, but the quickest and best way is simply to analyze your current customers then identify their common traits.
2. Mind your Spellings, Punctuation, and Grammar
Clean, well-crafted copy works as your brand’s ambassador. It shows your audience that you are doing good work and that you care about quality.
This translates to: You can be trusted.
Conversely, if your website has sloppy content then it portrays you as being careless and leaves a negative impression on users who will think that the brand behind it obviously can’t be trusted.
So always bear in mind that the content you create serves the purpose of laying the foundations for your communication. Good grammar, spelling, and punctuation ensure that your message is clear and easily understood.
The good news is, even if you don’t fully trust your command of spelling, grammar, and punctuation, there are tools that you can use such as Grammarly to help you avoid publishing content that is full of mistakes.
Alternatively, you can simply hire an editor to review all the content you create before you take it live.
3. Go Long or Go Home
It’s a known fact that long-form content does a lot better in search and earns way more backlinks than short pieces of content.
Long content also gets shared on social media more often.
Studies have been conducted by Buzzsumo, HubSpot, and Backlinko to show that there’s a correlation between your post word counts and rankings in Google, with the average number one results having over 1,900 words.
They also found that pieces of content with over 2,000 words had the most links and that long-form content got the most social shares compared to short-form content.
But remember that just because longform content does better doesn’t mean you need to get too hung up on the word count. Your first and most important focus should be on meeting the needs of your audience.
There are also other things to consider, such as the type of niche that you’re in when deciding on how long to make your posts. The bottom line is, shorter pieces are alright as long as you include a healthy mix of longer, in-depth 2000+ word pieces on your blog, too.
4. Get Your Formatting Right
Most people these days simply scan content instead of reading each and every word on the page.
Because of that, it’s important that you break your content up into snackable, digestible pieces. Use subheadings and bulleted lists as well as images, infographics, and calls to action to help break up massive blocks of text into something that’s more consumable for your audience.
A blog post that is well structured contains many of these elements as well as a lot of white space to make it visually appealing and more enticing for the audience to read.
Here’s an example of how you might structure your blog post.
Just keep in mind that this is merely an example of what good structuring looks like and that although your content might differ, at least you’ll have an idea of how to break it up your own way.
Blueprint of a Well-Structured Blog Post:
- Title – H1 header
- Introduction (showcase expertise, empathy, and unbiased, etc.)
- Subheadline – H2 header
- Creative content or copy
- Subheadline – H2 / H3 header
- Creative content or copy
- Call to action
5. Leverage Keywords
Search engines are all over the web looking for any content that closely resembles the keywords that users are searching for.
Keywords are simply words or phrases that match your audience’s searches.
For you to effectively leverage keywords in your content creation process, you need to be able to do the following:
Integrate Main Keyword:
Make sure that you integrate your main keyword or phrase into your post’s headline and body.
Don’t force it, all keywords that you use need to appear in a natural way and they should be relevant to the content.
Natural and Relevant:
When editing your content, it’s important to ask yourself if your language sounds natural.
Make sure that you place keywords and semantic keywords only where they are relevant within your text.
Use Semantic Keywords:
Naturally work in semantic keywords or synonyms related to your main keyword.
This is important because Google knows that certain words and phrases are closely related. For instance, when you search for ‘new oven’, Google shows you the results for ‘new stoves’.
6. Link Appropriately
Links signal Google that your content is relevant and reputable.
Links also show your website’s relationship with other sites in addition to the relationship among your own website’s content.
Always ensure that whenever you link to external websites, those off-page links are going to relevant and reputable sources. Also, the external links should always open in a new tab to prevent sending your visitors away from your websites.
The main body of your content should contain links to other relevant pages on your site.
These types of internal links serve a very important purpose of creating a sort of ‘web’ that search engine crawlers can follow and they also help to encourage your visitors to continue to explore your site.
Anchor text refers to the words you use for linking to both external and internal sources.
The text you use should be relevant to the source sites and it should explain to users clearly what they will see should they click on the link.
7. Include Attractive Images
Relevant images in your content work to support your content while making it more visually attractive. It has been confirmed by a lot of studies that blog posts containing images get read more, and they also get more clicks and shares.
Here are some quick tips to use images effectively in your content:
Wherever possible, use screenshots and custom images. Screenshots are extremely easy to create and help to explain some things a lot better than words can.
Also, they are extremely effective ways of capturing and posting information in a visually pleasing way.
Custom imagery that has never been seen anywhere else has the ability to give your post a level of originality and freshness that can have a significant impact on the success of your content.
When using an image, before you publish it on your website, always make sure that you read and understand all the usage terms.
While some stock imagery services give you full editorial licenses, other image sources do have requirements for citation – in which case you need to give appropriate credit.
So always check the images license before using it.
In order to ensure that your page loads fast at all times, you need to resize all your images to under 100 KB prior to uploading them. If you use multiple images on the page, then you have to go even smaller.
Luckily, there are many free image optimization tools such as Optimizilla that you can use to do this quickly and easily.
8. Write Compelling Headlines
If you’re not sure what makes a great headline, it is simply the following:
- A good headline should be searchable, which means that it needs to contain keywords that your core audience searches for and is likely to be included in search results.
- A good headline should be clickable, meaning that it must be interesting and compelling enough to make your audience want to click on or engage with it.
- Your main keywords should appear in your headline’s first 70 characters as Google only crawls that number of characters.
9. Don’t be Overly Promotional
Your content doesn’t need to include tons of branded references. While mentioning your business name is okay where it’s relevant and natural, avoid always going for the hard sell.
Remember, the main objective of your blog content is to help readers find what they need to solve their problems. So save those branded mentions for the calls to action at the end of your content.
Your content is created for the express purpose of providing value to users, not to sell to them. So put your audience first!
The Bottom Line
As you can see, creating great content isn’t necessarily hard, but you do have to have a template to follow to ensure that you do it right every time. Use the nine content writing best practices outlined above and you’ll see a significant improvement in your content creation efforts. Just remember to always include a call to action within any piece of content that you create.
It’s alright to add a branded call to action as this fills the role of naturally promoting your brand.
Just make sure that your call to action is short and effective, such as:
‘Get in touch with us for more information about how you can increase the ROI from your content marketing.’
‘If you would like more information about content writing best practices, visit our resource center.’
‘For more great tips on effective content marketing, PPC, SEO, link building, email marketing and more, subscribe to the PlanetBizOp blog.’
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Updated: Originally published May 7th 2019