The fact that content drives the Internet is nothing new, though today, there is a greater emphasis on the importance of quality. Internet marketers can no longer rely on publishing enormous amounts of thin content on online magazines, low-quality blogs, and article directories to build links and drive traffic to their main websites. As search engine giant Google seeks to increase the overall quality of the material on the Internet by rewarding well-researched and error-free content and penalizing sites who manipulative SEO strategies, content marketers need to start shifting their focuses to quality.
Web content is no longer primarily about written content. Although textual content is still extremely important, visual content including images, infographics, and videos are also becoming increasingly popular. The following takes a deeper look into the new face of content and how marketers can create content that both people and the search engines will love.
Why Is Great Content Important?
Content, content, content. Your entire online marketing strategy should revolve around the convergence of content, search, and social with quality content being the dominant piece of the puzzle. The goal is to create quality content to represent your business and draw in your targeted audience. Quality content is essential for the following reasons.
- Google highly rates content which is original, high-quality, free of spelling and grammar errors, and valuable. The new search engine algorithms are getting better and better at indexing and ranking your content the way a human reader would.
- Quality content is much more sharable. Social media is now the number one reason why people use the internet, so creating content people enjoy enough to share with their friends presents an enormous potential.
- Your readers are far more likely to come back to visit your site and even subscribe to regular updates via email newsletters or RSS feeds if they find your content interesting or entertaining. The search engines reward content which provides value to people.
How to Create Engaging Content
Gone are the days of publishing large amounts of poor quality content and using automated article submission tools. Creating great content, by contrast, is not quite as easy, but practicing a few good habits can make a great deal of difference.
- Diversify your content to cover a wider range of mediums. Images, infographics, streaming videos and auditory content can all help to make your content more interesting.
- Minimize distractions and unleash your creativity. Set aside a certain amount of time every week for creating content and updating your website. When creating content, think about what your readers are most likely to find interesting. You don’t even need to think about the technicalities of search engine optimization and other areas of online marketing at this point.
- Seek inspiration from other high quality sources, both online and offline. Collaborate with others in your industry and engage your audience through interaction using social media and comments on your posts. Become a part of the community by listening as well as speaking.
- Write in a web-friendly format. It is important to realize that writing for the Internet is rather different to writing for print. Web-friendly content needs to be scannable and engaging. Short paragraphs, list-type articles and bite-size chunks of useful information are all characteristics of good web content. Popular themes include how-to guides, top lists, product reviews, demonstrations, and almost anything that gives a slightly different slant on a subject to what is already published extensively online.
- Try to be fairly consistent with your publishing schedule so that you always have something to offer your readers when they come back to your page. But balance is important too – don’t fall into the trap of posting too much without doing your research.
The Complete List of Engaging Content Ideas
The following ideas are a collaborations between myself and from Rob Garner, author of the book Search and Social. Keep in mind you can use multiple content types to create your content strategy. In his book, Rob tells us to consider how your audience consumes content. Use each suggestion below accordingly.
My favorite content ideas come from industry interviews.
Interviews providing insightful Q&As with interesting people or thought leaders in your business area is a great way to attract a like-minded audience. Interviews can be fun, engaging, informative and can include many asset types, including video, audio, text, and images.
My approach to getting interviews is to invite people to be featured on my blog. This acknowledges their expertise and shows that I respect their input. That helps me build relationships with other important individuals in my field.
Interviews also help me broaden my reach and my network. I am banking on my subject telling their associates, friends, and connections about their interview, thus generating visibility for myself and my blog. As they share news about the interview, they create backlinks to my site, boosting my blog’s authority with search engines. See how that works?
Tips for the Interview Process
Interviews will provide you with a steady source of fresh, useful content.
- To make it easy, develop a standard interview process. If you create a standard list of set questions, it takes far less time and makes sure you cover all the bases.
- Identify several people who are respected in your industry and select a couple of questions that are likely to enjoy answering. They don’t all have to be serious, either!
- Don’t forget to mention you will be promoting the interviews in your social media profiles.
- If you can manage it, an audio or video recording is great because you can re-purpose the interview for a podcast or for YouTube.
Stories and Antidotes
My second favorite is when I tell a story or antidote. This always works for me.
Special and unique content comes when I share my real life stories and experience. When I tell a story that relates to my experiences or example within the context of a current topic or business problem, I feel I am developing a deeper relationship with my audience. Consider relating a business experience in a blog post and share on a major social network or discuss in a live presentation or webinar.
One of my favorite and most successful blogs was called “Why Do We Do Everything Google Says”. In my blog I talk about a dinner conversation we were having at my home with my husband regarding Google’s best practices and how we could use these to make changes then all of a sudden my daughter asked, “Why do you have to do everything Google says”? With that one question from someone outside our industry I was able to raise questions in my blog that created quite a bit of online conversation and social sharing. (Not to mention my daughter was excited that I included her in my blog!)
You can read the blog here: Why Should We Do Everything Google Says?
Contests and Giveaways
I love contests and giveaways, probably because I love winning! If you give away something that interests your key audience, you will receive attention in return. Use your entries as a way to offer additional content-opt-in opportunities or to simply ask them to connect with you directly in social networks (examples: “Please follow us on Twitter” or “Like us on Facebook”). Keep in mind that your giveaway should be relevant to your end goals, or else you will attract an irrelevant audience.
One of the funniest contests we did as a digital agency was when Google came out with their 360 degree business photos that allow visitors a virtual tour of our digital agency. Boy, did we have fun with it.
We created a game: Instead of the same old tour, we included a treasure map laid out on a side desk in our virtual tour. The treasure hunt was then used as part of our next social marketing contest.
Even though Google prefers no people in the photo shoots, we stretched that rule a little, too. We asked some of our employees dress up as characters and had visitors online find the characters, and if they did they received a copy of a new eBook.
We tied the photos into social networking games that rely on image clues scattered within the virtual tour of our business office. These types of interactivity are important for establishing the backdrop to engage an audience to play.
You can take a tour for yourself here: Advice Offices
Other Engaging Content Ideas are: