The time has finally come. You’ve created your strategy, done your research, and selected a topic for your first piece of content. Now that you’ve entered the production phase, there’s nothing to do but write and publish, right?
There’s much more to content marketing than simply putting words up on the Internet and hoping they rank well and bring in new business. Here are some content creation best practices you should keep in mind during this stage to ensure everything goes as smoothly as possible... and that your efforts aren’t wasted.
Rely On Research
Where possible, all of your content marketing should be based on research and hard data. This includes the basis for the content itself—if your article or blog post is based on keyword research or a question you found posted on Quora—as well as the actual body of the content. Data-backed, research-driven content resonates better with readers than fluffy, feeling-based statements.
Think about it this way. Which of these statements have more meaning to you?
- The return on investment on email marketing is very high.
- The average email marketing ROI is $44.25 for every $1 spent.
The second statement is much more powerful because it’s backed by data (and that’s real data, too!). That isn’t to say that you can’t write opinion pieces or make broad statements. However, if you can find data on your topic, you should use it, because it will make a huge impact.
Take Your Time
Don’t rush through a piece of content, as much as you might be tempted. This applies double for anyone who may be creating content in an attempt to outrank their competitors. Website visitors can and will sniff out half-hearted content, and they will quickly leave your site if they aren’t getting what they need from you.
Although Google certainly can’t detect whether or not your articles are worth reading, it can take a look at the metrics associated with your pages. If your bounce rate is very high, you may not rank very highly, simply because that rate is telling Google “these pages are driving users away.”
When it comes to content marketing, you should either do it right, or not at all. This isn’t to say that you won’t get better as you go along, but don’t expect to rank #1 just by putting words on a page. If visitors don’t like it, you won’t get the results you want.
Hire an Editor
If you’re producing content on your own, consider hiring an editor to proof your pieces before they go online. A second set of eyes will be able to catch small mistakes you may have missed, or point out issues with the content you may never have anticipated.
One common issue new content marketers run into involves the inability to think like a customer, or someone completely new to a subject. An editor can point out instances where you’ve forgotten to explain something important, like abbreviations, acronyms, or basic concepts, that may be second-hand nature to you now.
Editors can also make sure that your content is completely free of errors, follows content marketing best practices, and is fully primed for online exposure.
SEO Best Practices
Search engine optimization (SEO) is a topic that we’ve touched on briefly throughout this guide, but it’s of utmost importance when you arrive at the content production stage. If your content is not properly optimized to rank well in searches, the chance that it will be found by those searching for it is slim to none.
Fortunately, SEO is not as difficult or as daunting as it sounds—and truthfully, some business owners and marketers are able to perform SEO without even realizing they’re doing it! Here are some SEO best practices you should take in mind when creating your content.
- Use keywords—Make sure to use the words and phrases most relevant to the piece you are creating. Try to use them naturally, but don’t forget them!
- Add a page title—The title of each page on your site should be unique, and should contain the keywords you’re targeting or the phrase you want to rank for. Try writing page titles in the form of a question (“What is the Best Type of Mulch for My Garden?”) or a statement (“The Best Types of Mulch for Your Garden”).
- Break up your text—Your content may suffer from high bounce rates if it looks like one big block of unbroken words. Use bulleted lists, headings, images, videos, and other media to break up your text. The lower your bounce rates, the better your chances at ranking highly.
- Optimize your content to load quickly—Google prefers websites that are fast, and if your content takes a long time to load, your rankings may suffer. Check out our list of 26 tools to improve your page speed to get your content loading faster.
- Add links—Link your content to relevant pages visitors will enjoy, whether they’re on your site or other locations. If you link other websites, they may notice and link you back, which can help boost your authority and ranking.
Should I Hire a Content Marketer?
One final question we’d like to cover is whether or not a dedicated content marketer is worth the investment for businesses starting an online content marketing program. Some companies may opt to do content marketing with their existing staff, while others may create an entire department dedicated to the program. Is there really a right way to go about it?
Only you can answer this question. Generally speaking, however, you should see some kind of return on investment before you hire a dedicated content marketer. Content marketing does have the potential to work for everyone, but each business is different. Some may find that producing one blog post a week earns them a great deal of new business, while others may struggle to earn new leads with one new blog post every day.
When you start your content marketing program, if you are opting to handle it between your current team to begin with, set a date at which you’ll review the program’s performance and the demands it has placed on everyone. If the performance and demands are both high, you’ll know it’s time to hire someone.
With these content production best practices covered, let’s move on to explore some ways that you can promote your content marketing, increase its reach, and bring more people to your website.