Anyone can create content, but creating effective content requires you to incorporate your strategy to stay focused on your goal. What does your buyer persona want to read, and what do you want them to do when they’re finished? As you brainstorm topics to write about, scrap any ideas that don’t ultimately fit your goals.
“Content” doesn’t just have to be blog posts (although those are highly encouraged), it can also be videos, podcasts, webinars, ebooks, infographics, white papers, newsletters, and more. All of these items should be consistent in style, with a regular publication schedule so your audience always knows when to expect it.
Outline for Effective Blog Posts
We’ll focus on blog posts in particular, as the rest of the content can really vary according to your audience and industry, and blogs tend to have more widely standardized guidelines when it comes to search-engine optimization (SEO).
Headline and Image
Include a clear headline; avoid flowery language and keep it close to what someone would type in their search bar.
Also at the top of your post, be sure to include a quality image to visually hook your audience. When posting on social media, platforms will typically pull this featured image from the page in their preview, so keep dimensions in mind as well, as they vary per channel.
Include keywords, but don’t focus entirely on them. At one point, keyword stuffing got your website ranking high in search engine results pages (SERPs), and Google has since changed its algorithm to keep people from gaming the system. Now they focus on truly valuable and relevant content. If you are writing knowledgeably about a solid topic, the short- and long-tail keywords will naturally appear throughout the text and you have a better chance at ranking higher organically.
Length and Content
In terms of length, according to Buffer, the ideal word count is 1,600. However, don’t focus on the word count and fluff up your content to reach a certain minimum. Blogs should be as long as they need to be, and no more, to contain the most relevant information for SEO purposes. Make sure to include clearly defined sections as well, with bulleted lists for easier readability if applicable. You may have noticed Google offers a preview of information you’re looking for in search results, often pulled from posts that are formatted in this way.
At the end of the post, include a CTA that is relevant to the post itself. It can be as simple as signing up for a newsletter to get more content like what they’ve just read, or perhaps you have a related webinar coming up that the reader can register for right then and there.
Also, don’t forget to cite your information. Wherever possible, add a footnote or link to a primary source in case your reader wants to do further investigating on the topic—and always check facts.
Make sure your blog is formatted to include social-sharing icons somewhere on the page so that your readers are able to easily share the content on their social media accounts.
How to Generate Content Ideas
When you’re brainstorming content ideas, don’t hold yourself back—the process can be messy. Write down everything you can think of. Don’t evaluate whether it’s a stupid idea, just write freely until you can’t think of anything else. Only then should you edit down what you’ve come up with, disqualifying anything that doesn’t match your goals (perhaps saving them for later if the goals eventually change). It’s very important to keep an open mind and not judge ideas as they come out until the end.
For additional ideas and to confirm what you’ve written down, you’ll also want to:
Use Google Keyword Planner: Brainstorm a list of general topics that you’d like to write about, such as “email marketing” or “social media tips”. Enter them into the Keyword Planner and look through the related terms that pop up in your results, which will show the total amount of searches each keyword or keyword phrase generates. Assess the ones you would like to include in your strategy: if the search volume for a specific keyword is too low, it might be a sign that there is very little interest in the topic you’re researching and it might not be worth writing about
Track Trends: Use Google Trends to keep tabs on your audience and discover what they’re talking about in order to catch their attention. Set up Google Alerts as well to help you find relevant con- tent to share on social, or industry news to talk about in upcoming blog posts. You can also create Twitter lists of the outlets your buyer persona follows and keep track of news that way. Once you know what to keep an eye on, tools like TweetDeck can help you track search terms, and Buzzsumo can help determine what con- tent has the best social media performance.
Follow the Thought Leader: Create lists on Twitter and Feedly (or another RSS reader) that follows thought leaders in your industry. Find out what they’re talking about and see the kinds of content they’re creating; they lead the charge when it comes to reader expectations, so you want your content to be up to par.
Use Google Suggest and Related Searches: Start out with a basic idea and begin to type it into the Google search bar. You’ll see a list of suggestions pop up; these are terms that other people are using, so right away you have proof that there’s an audience for your topic. How can you answer the questions they’re asking, or pro- vide the information they’re looking for? In addition, after perform- ing a search, scroll down to the bottom of the results page and check out the “Searches related to…” section to get more ideas.
Visit Relevant Forums: Almost every industry has some sort of forum, whether it’s an actual message board, Facebook or LinkedIn Group, Quora topics, or subreddit. Peruse these boards and see what people are talking about, what kind of questions they have, and what problems they need solving.
Listen to Your Customers: Keep track of customer communication and note important questions, especially those that are common. Answer them in a blog post with your expert insight.
How to Effectively Repurpose Your Content
One way to keep churning out good content is to recycle old posts and turn them into something new—same content, different medium. This is effective because varying types of content perform better in different outlets. For example, a blog post that only reached people on Twitter the first time around can also reach YouTubers if you turn it into a video.
Here are a few more ideas for repurposing old content:
- Pull out an important quote and create a graphic for social media.
- If you have a blog post tutorial, create a video with screen share to go along with it.
- Turn multiple blog posts on the same topic into a downloadable ebook.
- On the flip side, turn an ebook into multiple blog posts.
- Turn an old webinar into a blog post or video.
- Use your website or client data to create case studies.
- Take statistics from a white paper and fashion them into a social-media-friendly infographic.
- Create a SlideShare out of a Powerpoint presentation.
- Take the best evergreen tips from your blog posts and include them in your newsletter. For instance, have a tip at the bottom that changes each week.
- Start a podcast. Cover the same topics you’ve written about online, but in a more conversational format.