First Site Guide is a group of experts in various aspects of website creation and blogging. Mostly, we tell people how to get blogs up and running, and why they should. linkbird’s crowd is a bit more advanced, so we’re going to take this chance to talk about the three big ways to create content that really works for you.
One of the biggest problems with content marketing is that most articles are DOA. There are too many competitors, too few people searching for the terms you chose to optimize for, etc. and so no one actually reads your content.
Search Engines Love Blogs
We probably don’t have to tell anyone here that search engines love blogs, but just in case: Search engines love blogs. You aren’t going to be winning any SEO wars with your competitors without a blog, simple as that.
It’s not enough that search engines find and return results for your blog, though. It’s all about how people find you, and what they do when they get there.
Do Readers Love Your Blog?
If readers are getting to your content, then leaving, you’re never going to get far. It’s important that the people who reach your content engage. If they engage, they will link back, they will share it, they will keep their eyes on the page for a while.
All of these actions will help you rise above competitors for your search terms.
Some Ways to Write Great Content
The best way to go about the challenge of writing great content is always to do something new no one else has thought of yet. On the other hand, there are three very common and nonetheless successful ways to make sure your content is actually worth the time you’ve invested in it:
1. Target Controversy
This is a specific type of viral content marketing, and the easiest to pull off, but also the easiest to horribly mess up. It’s probably best avoided, but it’s still worth addressing. This is all about creating an article people feel driven to comment on and/or share. Manipulating people into emotional reactions is never too difficult, the hard part is making sure it doesn’t blow right back on you.
This type of content has a definite expiration date, as well. It needs to be launched as something matters, not next week, or it won’t do anything. There was no Kony 2013.
The challenge here is obvious: If something is controversial, it’s because there are two sides who are busy angrily yelling about it. Often they will jump to share something that supports their views.
There are ways to thread the needle here. Just make the overwhelmingly popular argument no one is arguing against, but is almost close to opposition to another popular argument, and you’ll be fine. This is sort of Marketing 101, right? No one campaigns for worse schools, and no one campaigns for higher taxes, even if lower taxes mean worse schools and better schools mean higher taxes.
Again, this is a risky strategy, but it’s shockingly easy to get the ball rolling this way — just make sure it doesn’t roll right over you or your company. There are a number of sites which survive almost entirely off this sort of content. For example, the Huffington Post’s main story right now is the sex change of Bruce-now-Caitlyn Jenner. Ironically, this example will only grow stronger as this article ages and readers have more and more difficulty remembering why the genitals of a Soviet-era American gold medalist were of any interest to them.
2. Target Viral
The best way to increase your audience and search rankings is to let other people do it for you. This is a bit trickier to get moving than the direct appeal to emotion, but it can be done. One way is simply to post on something currently or recently ongoing. People won’t be searching for it long-term, probably, but you’ll see a quick boost, and not have much competition. Beth Kanter does this in her recent post on the DoGoodData 2015 Conference. Sure, people won’t be looking for it long, but she won’t have much competition for the top spot in Google. As an added bonus, it highlights her own participation.
Unfortunately, many companies are extremely unethical about this. One of the most common tactics for making viral content is to simply steal content that’s gathering momentum from others. Since copyright law hugely favors large companies, small content drivers essentially can’t do anything about it.
So, please, do your part to make the internet a nice place to live, and don’t be a jerk about viral content. Give attribution to the creator!
Okay, now that’s out of the way, so we can go into the good ways to get viral content going. The big one is nice: Be positive. People love to share cute puppies falling over, small children trying (and failing adorably) to do big people things, and so on.
Or, you can be funny. Virality is basically like a dating profile. You can be cute, you can be amazing, you can be funny, you can be cute, amazing, and funny, or you can go sit in the corner by yourself. Your call.
The other way to go viral is to fill a need really well. A good way to do this is to find topics that get a lot of shares, but are also full of low-quality content. Then just hop in there with some top-shelf content and watch the hit counter go wild.
Infographics are big, by the way. People love to share pretty pictures. People love to share pretty pictures. Flyte New Media has a Facebook page where they post articles of interest to others in their line of work, their own articles, and regular pictures from around their office in Portland, Maine.
3. Target Evergreen
Sometimes you’ve got to play the long game. Evergreen content is content that never goes bad. Your goal here is to create really good content serving a need that won’t go away. Unlike viral content, these articles are meant to bring in clicks day after day. Due to the nature of search engine rankings, there is an additive effect here. Once you have enough evergreen articles showing up in the first page of search results, the search engines start to notice you, and pull your entire site higher.
Examples might include this article by Neil Eneix on Fannit.com asking, What Makes a Keyword Good for My Business, Anyway? This is a question nearly everyone on their first foray into optimization for their business site is going to ask. And there Fannit is, ready to provide the answer.
Evergreen content is hard to write. To some degree, it’s down to luck, since it’s often hard to guess what will matter in a year or two. That said, the process is essentially a redux of the viral formula; look for things lots of people are searching for, and then provide better content on similar topics.
4. Target in Tandem
Evergreen content should always be your main goal, but it’s a sound strategy to use viral content to push new readers to your evergreen content. Think of the viral content as a sampler platter. The samples go bad pretty quickly, but hopefully they’ll convert people to buying from your brand for a long time to come.
The Overall Strategy
A bit of time and effort put into your strategy can make all the difference in the long-term. Don’t just write content, write content for a purpose.