When it comes to creating great content, every word counts
If you’re taking the time to put pen to paper then it has to be worth your while.
Whether you’re writing a product review, an article about the latest news in your industry, or your annual round-up of business successes, what’s the point of writing if no one’s going to read it?
There’s nothing more soul-destroying than pouring your heart and soul into something on your website and then checking the site analytics…and finding out that no one’s visited the page. Kevin Costner isn’t always right- if you build it, they won’t always come!
Photo by Michael M Stokes via Flickr
Unlike the Field of Dreams, you need to do more than just build it to make them come
So how can you make sure that every word that you write works hard for you? And what will keep people coming back to your site time after time?
Basically, what makes great content?
Customers love a personal connection
Imagine you’re sitting in your office, and your phone rings. It’s a potential client with a question about your services.
Great! You can talk about your business passionately for hours. You get the chance to explain to them what you do, the value of your products, the benefits they’re likely to get from signing up. You’re compelling, engaging, and authoritative. They end the call feeling good about your business and just like that, you have a new customer.
It’s easy to convince someone when you’re speaking directly to them. People buy from people (Mongan, 2015), and when you’re having a conversation with someone, you can create that personal connection.
But how do you generate that level of engagement from your website?
Great content will help you ‘speak’ to your customers from your website, just as you would do in person. Customers love to see the human side to a business, and if you can use content to build that connection then you’ll see real benefits on your bottom line.
Image by Gerd Altmann via Pixabay
Customers are always looking for a personal connection
Six key elements of great content
If you’ve ever visited a website then you’ll probably already have an opinion on what makes great content. Think about the sites that you enjoy visiting, and then think about the things they have in common.
Are they interesting? Useful? Funny? Engaging? Fresh?
Your business website is no different to anything else online- it has to offer value, hold peoples’ attention, and be worth their time. A solid, trustworthy website is incredibly important because research has found that 75% of people judge a company based on how credible they find their online presence (Brinker, 2020).
As BJ Fogg at Stanford University points out, highly credible websites have high levels of trustworthiness and expertise, and you want that credibility for your business.
However, it’s not easy to get your content to tick all these boxes! Here at Sparklite we want to make it as simple as possible for you to create kickass content, so we’ve pulled together a handy summary of things to bear in mind. It will help you put pen to paper in all the right ways.
Great content is original
Let’s kick off with the importance of your content being original. We don’t just mean that you shouldn’t copy someone else- that goes without saying. We mean that you should look for a new angle on your subject.
If other companies in your industry are publishing boring descriptions of their products then think about how you can be different. Can you get some customers to write some reviews? Or maybe you could write about a day in the life of someone who uses your services?
Offer something a bit different to the crowd and watch your engagement levels rise.
Image by Gordon Johnson via Pixabay
In a global economy, you want to stand out as original and unique
Great content is findable
Next up is the importance of your content being Findable. You could have the greatest website in the world, with the best content ever, but if no one ever finds it then what’s the point!
There’s no escaping the importance of Search Engine Optimization, or SEO. It’s the framework that tells search engines to rank your site higher than others with similar relevancy, which is incredibly important in helping potential customers to find you online. Love or hate SEO, you ignore it at your peril!
We’re talking things like correctly labeled headers and appropriately used keywords, and there is a real science to it.
Image by Katarzyna Zyl via Pixabay
Search Engine Optimization: not easy, but worth the effort
Can we condense the basics of SEO into this one article? Oh hell no!
There are whole books written on SEO, and it would take years to properly explain all the twists and turns. Our recommendation is to do some reading and apply what you learn to your site. We’ve put together an SEO guide to help you out, and the Moz.com Beginner’s Guide to SEO is also a great place to start as it uses a really clear step-by-step approach to walk you through the basics.
Great content is thought-provoking
If you want your readers to keep visiting your website, and to share your content with their friends and family, then you need to make it thought-provoking.
People like to learn new things and have their preconceptions challenged, and writing content that makes people think means that those people will keep coming back to read what else you have to say.
Try and think of a new angle you can take that will get people interested. Could you try and predict future developments in your industry? Have you got any controversial opinions that you’re dying to share? (Go careful with this one!)
Photo by Sindre Strom via Pexels
You don’t need a crystal ball to predict the future, just a few interesting ideas
The one thing to bear in mind is that thought-provoking content tends to be time-sensitive, as trends change pretty quickly in the business world. Make sure you frequently refresh these types of articles to stay ahead of the game.
Great content is relevant
Linked to our last point, then, is the idea that great content should be relevant. If you find an article written about new developments in your industry then it’s no use to you if that article was written in 2003!
Think about it- would you invest the time in reading old headlines long after the fact? Probably not, and neither will your customers.
Some news can end up feeling a bit dated
Things change, the working world moves on and your website needs to reflect that. Draw up a content plan with regular publication dates, and actually execute it. A steady flow of articles appearing on your website helps your business to look active and efficient, so that’s a win, plus you’ll have the chance to comment on all the latest news.
We’ve written a separate piece all about how to determine the ideal frequency for blog articles, but really, the important thing is that you have a plan, and stick to it.
Great content can be acted on
Pondering theory is all very well, but taking action is better, right? And so it follows that great content should be able to be acted on.
Check out this infographic from Unbounce, which gives a ton of actionable tips for how to get started with online marketing. This is so much more useful to the reader than a general discussion post about the theory of marketing, without offering any real-world examples.
Graphic by Oli Gardner via Unbounce.com
Actionable, clear, and useful
People are visiting your website for a reason. Maybe they want to learn a fact, get a price for your services, or be entertained. Providing value is so important to helping people want to spend time with you online, and providing actionable content is a great way to provide that value.
A good example of actionable content would be a useful checklist related to your industry that your customer could download and use or a list of questions they should be asking their local supplier. Anything that makes them glad they landed on your site.
Great content shows your expertise
Writing content on your website is a great opportunity to show expertise in your industry.
You might have heard of the term ‘thought leadership’ before, but what does it actually mean? The Marketing Insider Group defines it as ‘providing the best and deepest answers to your customers’ biggest questions’ (Brenner, 2019), and that’s a pretty good summary.
You know your business better than anyone, and now’s the time to show it. Customers want to feel reassured and comfortable that they’re in safe hands, so showing them your knowledge and enthusiasm is a real plus point. Use a solid cornerstone content structure to guide people around your website in a logical fashion, which will allow you to show them the best that your business has to offer.
Photo by Gregory Jacquet on Unsplash
Light up your customers’ world
The benefit of this approach is that your customers start to see you as part of the solution to their problems. If they find a pain point and they want someone to help them solve it then they’ll think of you first. And that’s a pretty great place to be as a business.
Great content means great rewards
Although it might take a bit more time to write content that’s been crafted to tick all these boxes, the benefits are well worth the effort.
Following these simple principles will mean that more people find your content, more people read your content and more people stick around to see what else you have to offer.
In a world where companies compete fiercely for customers’ time and money, great content makes you stand out from the crowd. It’s a real business win!