In January 1996, Bill Gates wrote an essay titled “Content is King”, which was published on the Microsoft website. In this essay, Bill Gates emphasized that long-term winners were those who delivered content based on information and entertainment. He said and I quote,
Content is where I expect much of the real money will be made on the Internet, just as it was in broadcasting
And since then, this has been widely used lexicon amongst content Marketers and digital nerds alike.
The recent Content Marketing Institute 2017 Benchmarks Report found that 85 percent of content marketers attribute their 2017 success to developing custom, quality content throughout the year.
According to SearchEngineLand, Google’s search algorithm places content amongst the top 3 factors to drive traffic to a webpage (the other 2 factors being link building and Rank Brain, Google’s cognitive artificial intelligence system.
But what does it take to make content that is appreciable and acceptable to searchers while earning money for you? Is it enough or even wise to pack content with keywords, or to direct links back to the content or for that matter make content verbose and long-winded?
Let us take a deeper dive into 10 traits that make a compelling online content which is worthy of being called a King!
Thorough research and customer profiling is the bedrock of a compelling and captivating content.
And marketers must hone skills in ensuring that the content that they develop must appeal and resonate with the target customers that they are focusing.
- Provide detailed information on topic
- Well researched (do competitor analysis on similar topic; Refer Google trend to include trending conversations on the topic; Not leave topics unaddressed or partly described
- Give references for deeper reading from credible sources
- Back your assertions with facts, sources, and data
Do you provide information to a customer that instills a sense of desire in them to read the content, go past the tipping point down the Persuasion Slide to buy a product or avail of the service?
Marketers must learn how to win customer’s love keeping content at the forefront of engagement
Google doesn’t like sites with high bounce rates. A searcher coming to entrance (landing) page of your website and leaving that page is considered as a bounce in Google’s definition.
And the most crucial factor that governs the bounce rate on a webpage is how relevant is your content to serve searcher’s goal or intent.
Do not board a traveler on a Bangalore-bound flight when she bought tickets to go to New Delhi. (Not a perfect analogy, I know but it makes the point!)
Relevancy of content to searcher’s goal has an indirect impact on page authority, page rank and for getting good backlinks to the page.
However, the buck does not stop with content being Relevant.
Google digs deep into engagement parameters like time spent on a webpage, click through rate (CTR), other pages visited, social media shares of a webpage, brand mentions etc. to gauge whether the content delivers on the promise.
- Never use Click-bait headlines- Clickbait headlines are titles that provoke such curiosity, that people are inclined to click on them.
- Do keyword research- Use primary and secondary keywords in your content.
- Select keywords that share searcher’s intent
- Invite Google to read your content
- Optimize for page Title and Meta-descriptions
- Have readable URLs
- Use Alt tags for images
A study says that long-form content performs better in searches than thin content.
Make your content elaborate, to cover key topics of subject you are writing on and give references from reputable sources to support and substantiate your views
- Be Inch-wide and Mile-deep. Write all-pervasive elaborate content
- Investigate SERP to know that Google believes to be relevant to a search
- Refer Google Trends to see what is information is trending on your topic
- Write missing content that you think searchers are looking for but is missing in SERP
The ultimate objective of a content is to provide information that is relevant and valued by target Audience whereby they can take action that marketers want them to.
A good content marketing strategy always engages with customers to guide them deeper into buyer’s journey and eventually drives a profitable or rewarding customer action.
‘Action’ may be defined in many ways and depends on the objective you want to achieve.
A rewarding customer action could be filling a form on a website, register for a webinar, downloading a video, infographic or an e-book, subscribing to an email list, adding to cart (sale), or simply visiting a website (branding).
Marketers must not breathe down a customer’s throat while they are in early stage of buyer journey. I mean they should not overtly sell. Rather the nature and context of a content must be refined to serve customer’s appetite based on the stage of their journey they are in.
The Holy Grail for marketers is to create content that readers are looking thereby positioning yourself as an authority on topic and engage with them for as long as possible (page views, low bounce rates, downloads, repeat visitors, etc.)
Making a killer content is not enough. Your well-crafted content is worthless if nobody knows it exists.
First and foremost, there is no denying that the content has to be interesting and engaging to the audience for it to be shared.
However, the easiest pitfall for marketers is to not let a worthy content talk for itself.
I see a lot of good content that eats dust or awaits Google bots to crawl and index because site owners have not either followed guidelines of site architecture using SEO guidelines or have not republished their content it across digital ecosystem.
Shareable content should meet 2 criteria:
- A desire to share– When people find truly great content, they want to sing it from the rooftops, or at least put it on Facebook.
- Ease to share– The first part is making something that people want to share, the second part is making it super easy for them to do that.
Marketers must utilize all promotion channels in digital and offline media space from social media to forums and online communities, conventional PR to Programmatic buying, paid and organic search to audience remarketing, e-mail marketing to social media drip campaigns, etc. to create maximum impact and noise for their piece of read-worthy content.
Content sharing enhances shelf-life of a piece of content. Some of the content sharing platforms I use for content sharing are Inbound.org, Quora, Medium, and Reddit.
See 15 recommended platforms for sharing blog posts by Search Engine Journal
There is a lot of spam and junk out there in today’s digital ecosystem.
- According to data released by WordPress, users produced about 8 million new posts in December of 2017 using their (WordPress) platform alone.
- The Number of Bloggers is expected to reach 31.7 million in 2020. (Statista)
That is a lot of content! But how much of it is worthy of clicks and opens?
According to a study conducted by Acrolinx that reviewed 150,000 web pages from 340 companies around the world, just 31 percent of websites evaluated had to content with a passing score of 72 or higher.
So how to separate the wheat from the chaff.
The answer is building credibility and authority while producing content.
- Produce unique, original and informative content
- Multiply your credibility by linking to authoritative websites to back information.
- Get reciprocal upside on your webpage ranking by mentions of your brand from influencers owing higher ranked websites
- Publish reviews and recommendations of your customers to the in-market audience.
The most genuine test of the credibility of content is how well or not is content consumed by the users.
An elevated level of audience engagement and interaction lends credibility to the content and has a multiplier effect on the rankings.
These are the educative pieces that teach your audience about the things you know that they would find interesting or would derive a direct benefit from knowing
The audience is always on the hunt for informative, illustrative and educational content that would satiate their desire for a credible and relevant information on a topic of interest.
Educative content would not only benefit your readers now but would also become a source of credible and interesting information for your audience again in future. Unlike news or event-based content, educative content has a longer half-life.
- Evergreen posts
- Avoid Date stamps
- ‘How-to’ articles
- Insert Video, conduct webinars with domain experts,
- Expand shelf-life by updating evergreen posts regularly
Never let your content snooze.
Content marketers must use all quivers in social media armor to scale and spread the information to relevant users and audiences.
Some examples of data amplifications could be:
- Social share buttons- Prominent yet non-intrusive.
- Strictly avoid pop-ups in content
- Polls/ Voting- Entice users to share views and voice thoughts
- Encourage participation through quizzes
- Respond proactively: Always elicit conversation with readers through open-ended remarks comments.
- Bucket users into custom audiences and interest categories
- Use remarketing to go back to users based on content consumption on your site
- Reach out with selective and apt information that would be of value to the audience based on their interest and preferences
Long gone are days of spray-and-pray tactics where an average content made viral online could get your brand or product in front of the audience.
Ever changing algorithms and bot intelligence has made below-par content appear increasingly trite and clichéd for audience and search engines.
Your content must benefit a clearly defined audience and must pass a stringent litmus test of sorts. Ultimate motive of content generation by marketers must be to drive sales or at least push customer further into the sales funnel.
The ultimate motive of a content marketer is to dish out a content that is easily consumed, re-used (shared), is reference-worthy (generates backlinks), has a long shelf-life and leaves a positive impression with readers.
The best way to expand the life of content is by giving some leave-behinds or takeaways for future references. These could be a free eBook, beautifully designed Infographic, or a Cheat Sheet etc.
Apart from content viewpoint, the usability of information also depends on the website design and architecture, load speed and mobile-friendly responsive
Hence, website owners must look at content usability from a broader perspective involving both on-site and off-site factors
Readability is essentially usability for text. This idea encompasses both good design and good writing.
From a design perspective, readable content is easy on the eyes.
- Font size: Recommended size 10-12.
- Font type- I prefer Garamond for the headlines and Garamond for body copy. It is a good idea to accentuate the sidebar or listicles with a light background
- Leading or line spacing– Let it not be too tight.
- Listicles– People love lists because it is easy to consume and understand.
- Bite-size chunks–Break text into smaller chunks (paragraphs) so it’s easier for readers to scan. Use bullet lists, headings, and subheadings, use of bold text, etc.
- Clarity and concision – Do not circumambulate. Be crisp and precise in writing. Every sentence you write should convey valuable information. Just don’t ramble aimlessly to make content verbose.
- Write like you talk but using correct grammar.
I sign off this post with a very pertinent quote from Benjamin Franklin who famously said,
“Either write something worth reading or do something worth writing”.
Isn’t that so true for our times when relevant content has become a bedrock of viable digital marketing strategy, to create social media engagement and ensure brand amplification?
We have terabytes of content everywhere around us. But is all that content worthy of being called ‘King’? Obviously NO!
Content-proficient marketers or ‘King-Makers’ should generate regular content that resonates with customer’s goal and interest and engages with them throughout their online journey to develop interest and desire in them to act.
Content marketers must put content to test whether it has the ability to endure and survive the test of quality, readability, and attention of readers.
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