If you’re like most people, then when you begin to develop content for a brand new website, you’ll probably throw mud at the wall to see what sticks, by writing lots of articles about things that you believe to be relevant to your audience. This isn’t exactly what one might call a content creation plan; there’s a better path forward.
Content creation requires careful thought so that you utilize your time efficiently to produce the best possible results. You’ll want to brainstorm ideas about your target audience, along with related keywords as you develop your content strategy. In addition, you should put together a document on your brand voice and mission statement, that you can review on occasion to make sure your content is aligned with your overall vision for your company. Once that’s done, you’ll need to create a good structure for your website taxonomy (i.e. webpage categorization). Assuming that you’ve already got a solid plan for the structure of your website, try these tips for creating shareable content that has a shot at ranking well on Google.
Evergreen Content for New Websites
If your website is new, then you should start with developing evergreen content. This is content that is relevant throughout the year, and beyond. Think of evergreen trees that never lose their leaves. Imagine that someone will read your article a year or two from now; will it still be relevant and useful? If the answer is yes, then you’ve probably got a good topic.
You can delve into seasonal and holiday content as your website gains some traction, but it won’t be the most efficient use of your time if you’re just starting out. The hours spent creating a Christmas article might produce an amazing piece, but if no one reads it, then that time is lost. This is not to say that you should avoid seasonal topics altogether; only that you should focus the majority of your time on topics that are everlasting.
Use the Grammarly Plugin
Be sure to install and use the Grammarly plugin for your preferred web browser. It’s a great, free tool to reduce basic grammatical errors and typos. You’ll see most mistakes underlined in red and can correct most errors before publishing your content. It’s not perfect but it’ll cut down on copy-editing labor with very little effort, and will help you to improve your own writing skills. In addition, Google prefers well-written content. If your articles are strewn with errors, it’s unlikely to rank well.
Get Your Page Indexed
A poorly structured blog will generally have a stream of articles listed in reverse-chronological order, with no other structure to the website. Make sure that you have relevant categories for your content that a user can click to find a filtered set of content. If you’re using a CMS like WordPress, then be sure to add a few relevant tags to each of your articles, too. Your website theme should show these tags as clickable links on the page, which call up sets of matching articles. If those links are missing, then you likely have a poor theme, or a developer who doesn’t understand the basics of SEO, and it might be time to switch.
Longform Content Ranks Better
Back in the early days of SEO, Google loved articles in the 250-500 word range. Today, it’s very different. Articles that rank on the first page of Google for competitive keywords are on average 1,890 words in length. That’s about seven (7) pages in a novel. Plus, this content must provide value to the reader. If it’s just a wall of fluffy text, it’s unlikely to rank well. At a minimum, aim for 1,000 words per article.
Avoid a Wall of Text
A wall of text can be intimidating and boring. Google, and readers prefer engaging content. When you’re in that 1,000 to 3,000+ word length, try to break up the content into manageable chunks.
Separate sections by headings so that the user can scan your article for areas of interest, and paragraphs that they might prefer to skip. Generally, the title of your article should be a Heading 1, or H1 tag in HTML. Section headings should be in H2 format, and subsections may be parsed out by H3 headings. Make sure that your font styles convey this logical hierarchy, too. A good format for a typical article might be something like this:
- Intro paragraph with a compelling hook to get people to read the rest of the content
- Section heading
- Section heading
- Section heading
- Conclusion heading
- Paragraph with call-to-action
Top 5 and Top 10 Lists
Alternatively, if you don’t want to follow the above format, lists are awesome. People often search for Top 5, or Top 10 lists on their favorite topics. If the text is short for each item, then you can make it as a bulleted or numbered list. If the text is long, then use section headings for each item on the list.
Embed Videos in Your Content
Embed a relevant and high-quality Youtube video into your content. For example, if you’re crafting an article about economics, then try embedding a video about economics into your content. You can either grab something that someone else created on Youtube, or if you’ve got the bandwidth, create your own video content. Pro-tip: you can convert a Powerpoint presentation into an engaging video relatively easily.
If you’re using a recent version of WordPress, then just paste the link on its own line and WordPress will automatically convert it into an embedded video. Besides making the content more engaging, your page may also show up under Google Video Search with a thumbnail.
Include Images in Your Content
Be sure to include a featured image for your post, and make sure that your CMS, whether WordPress or some other platform, is configured to tag that image so that Twitter, Facebook and other social media platforms can recognize it when generating a thumbnail for the page. Add a few more images (and videos) throughout your content wherever they make sense. Basically, people lose interest if they see a wall of text, so we want to break it up with other types of content to keep them engaged.
Tips on Creating Shareable Content
If you follow the tips above, then you’re on your way to writing great content. The problem is that some of it may not be shareable. Your articles might be good for people who already know your brand and want to read interesting things, but you can improve your reach by focusing on a few key elements.
Think in Terms of Questions That People Ask
In your SEO specs for new content, you should include the main keyword that’s used in the title of the article. Think of questions that people might type into Google with that keyword. What is their search intent? Craft your title accordingly, by including your keyword within the context of language that hooks the reader in, so that they click through to your page. Your article should answer their questions, without them having to click through to other websites for the answers.
For example, if you’ve got a fitness-related website like 1AND1 Life, you might target a phrase like winter weight gain. Don’t write an article that just describes winter weight gain. Instead, think of questions that users might have in mind when they perform such a search. What is the user’s intent? What problem are they trying to solve? They might want answers to questions like, “How can I minimize my winter weight gain?” Or, “What should I do if I’m experiencing winter weight gain?” Your content should answer these sorts of questions for the user. In fact, if you structure your section headings as a series of related questions, then you have a shot at appearing in the People Also Ask section of Google.
Trends Fade, But Some Are Sticky
Trends work better for websites that already have lots of traffic and engagement. Over time, they may fade away and you’ve just invested a lot of time without much of a return. However, trending topics that you feel might have some longevity to them are useful. Here are some helpful tools, to give you ideas. If you expect the trend to last at least a year or two, then it’s probably a good topic. Additionally, if you believe that you can push out excellent content on a trend before your competition, then it might be worth the risk. Just make sure that you’ve got a solid plan in place to share that content on social media, and paid advertising. Try some of these tools for trending ideas:
- Google Trends – type in a word or short phrase, and scroll down to the “rising” section for ideas.
- Buzzsumo – the free version is limited, so use this after you’ve compiled ideas from other tools.
- Ubersuggest – this is more of a keyword tool than a trends tool, but it’s helpful, so try it out. Aim for low-competition, high search-volume keywords
Connect With the Reader Through Storytelling
Add language to your content to make it more personal to the reader. If someone can connect with your article in an emotional way, then they’re more likely to share your content, and to become paying customers. For example, if the article’s about healing a twisted ankle, you might tell a story about how you twisted your own ankle walking down some subway steps, and how you treated your injury.
Time to Get Started
Give this a shot and start sharing your content on various social media platforms to see if it sticks. Be sure to also try some of the techniques described in our older, 10x Content Creation article. If you find that you need help from an expert, contact us.