In Laurie Beasley’s previous post about content marketing, she mentioned that that sharing original content is important. The whole purpose of content marketing is predicated on having original content, because it is intended to demonstrate expertise, insight and knowledge in your particular field to customers and potential customers. “Curating” other people’s content does not accomplish this objective. Publishing someone else’s content occasionally is fine as long as it underscores your own messaging, but the bulk of your content should be original and unique.
Why Does My Content Have To Be Original?
“Author authority” is a concept Google developed to assign value to sites and social media streams that feature original content, content that is developed by you and is unique to your site, blog, etc. Author authority is more valued by Google and other search engines than content that you share from another source. So you get SEO brownie points for original content.
The more SEO brownie points you have (not a Google term; blame it on Beasley Direct Marketing), the greater your visibility on the Internet. Visibility combined with demonstration of your expertise leads to several very good things:
- Increased traffic to your site from sites on which your content is posted
- Increased reputation on the Web for your person-to-person communications (sales team, marcom team, etc.)
- Increased visibility within search engines, resulting in higher ranking and more search traffic
- Increased visibility and authority within social media
- Increased trust
- Increased revenue
Above all, your content must be targeted to your audience, relevant to their needs, and accessible. Here are 7 key elements of great content.
1. Provide quality, helpful information with unique insights
Can you tell your audience something that no one else is telling them? Good content is quality information with unique insights—which is not quite as easy as it sounds. It means you need to know what other people in the field are saying, and avoid merely repeating it. It means you need to know what your customers are thinking and feeling; what problems are they trying to solve? What issues have they faced trying to solve those problems—can you tell them how to avoid these issues? In particular, do you know what difficulties or issues people face when dealing with your competitors? Can you show them that you are different? Can you “make it stop hurting”? RELATED CLASS: Developing Content for Each Stage in the Buying Process
2. Keep it timely
Timeliness is also important. Are there changes in your industry that customers need to know about? Keep abreast of industry news and news in general. Is there something going on in the world that directly affects your business and its customers? For example, let’s say you sell automotive parts used by long-haul trucking firms. A strike by Malaysian port workers will adversely affect deliveries of palm oil, which is used to make biodiesel. A shortage of palm oil will lead to decreased production of biodiesel, followed by an increase in the price of conventional diesel fuel. You are not affected by the palm oil shortage, but your customers certainly will be, and they will be grateful to you for calling their attention to the issue. If you happen to sell a fuel system that increases miles per gallon, so much the better!
3. Use language that resonates
Use language with which your intended audience will resonate. If you are selling cosmetics, language such as “fresh and flirty!” works. This would not be as well received by an audience seeking financial advisory services. Know when to use informal language and when to stick to more sedate prose.
4. Write smart, catchy headlines
The importance of good headlines cannot be over-emphasized. Headlines must serve two purposes: SEO and getting your audience to read the content. For SEO purposes, you must have at least one keyword in the title, and more is better. More is better, that is, unless it forces you to write a boring headline. If the headline is uninteresting, your audience will go on to the next thing, assuming that the content will be as stultifying as the headline. Let’s say you have written a blog piece on the cost of biodiesel in the U.S. You might have written a headline such as “An Analysis of the Cost of Biodiesel in the United States.” This has the right keywords, but it also could be used to aid someone coping with insomnia. How about “10 Reasons Biodiesel Costs Too Much”? It still has good keywords for SEO purposes, but sounds like a more interesting read.
5. Keep content short and sweet
For the purpose of content marketing, content should be short and sweet. Some experts advocate 300 words or fewer. Some topics (this one, for example) require more than 300 words, but it’s a rule of thumb. RELATED CLASS: How to Leverage Business Blogging for More Traffic, Leads, and Sales
6. Make it easy to share
Content must be easy to share. Make sure you have social media buttons on all your social media feeds that allow people to instantly post the location of your content to their own followers. If you are promoting a longer piece such as a white paper, use short-form urls to make it easy for people to click and share. Short-form urls can be generated at no cost at https://bitly.com/. Hootsuite users can use Hootsuite’s built-in url shrinker when posting.
7. Link all content to the author’s name
Ensure that every piece you publish is identified with the author or the organization to establish author authority. Have the author’s name and bio with links to the website and other social media streams. Anything and everything that points back to the author/authority will add to your luster as an expert and authority in your field.