This is part three in our five-blog series on SEO and CRO. Read part two here.
So, you’ve got your value proposition squared away. Now what?
The next step in your customer acquisition journey is to develop a badass content strategy. That starts with re-evaluating your old content (if you’ve got any) and then producing new content that aligns with your newly refreshed value prop. You’ve got to lay a solid foundation before you start creating new stuff. Put another way, don’t put the content creation cart before the horse.
Here are 13 rules you can use as guidelines as you dive into your old content and start thinking about what you want to produce moving forward with a clear vision in hand.
1. Write How People Actually Speak and Think
When it comes to content, one of the biggest mistakes we see is the notion that quality content should be fancy, sophisticated or even sexy. In reality, it’s quite the opposite. Whether you’re a donut shop or a luxury home builder, content should be simple, clear and readable — always. The rest is extra.
This point of view also applies to highly technical content. Don’t assume the reader knows what you’re talking about. If you go from point A to point F, you’ve lost your customers. Instead, lay out a clear mind path — one that goes from point A to B, then C, and so on and so on. When you become conscious of this, you’ll begin to notice that good content actively avoids using jargon and confusing language.
2. Avoid Walls of Text
It’s easy to write a stream of consciousness. It’s hard to trim the “fat” and produce a highly potent piece of content. So, unless you are the New York Times, you’ll want to avoid pages and pages of text and instead, create tiny, powerful and punchy golden nuggets of information your readers will find value in.
Obviously, length depends greatly on what you’re writing and why, but in general, it’s always best to avoid big sections of text and break it up into sections. This can be done with headers, bullets and visuals, such as graphics, photos and videos.
Visuals should also be there to enhance the text, not take away from it. It’s important to have a balance of both text and visuals so the reader isn’t overwhelmed with one or the other.
3. Show, Don’t Tell
The hallmark of creative writing, the “show don’t tell” principle is more subtle than most people think. Showing and telling something conveys the same information. However, showing the reader invites them to engage while telling them is — well — boring.
If you tell the reader something, it leaves nothing to the imagination. Readers can’t draw their own conclusions, and the writing feels very one-sided. Take Integrate, for example. The worst thing we could possibly do is “tell” the reader “we’re awesome and here’s why.” That’s lame, and no one wants to read that.
Instead, our copywriters (hello there) push readers to formulate their own conclusions. They get to decide for themselves how to feel about us rather than being told all the things that make us great. That can be through blogs (like this one), opinions on trends, or other bits and pieces of content that you, the reader, find valuable!
Apply this technique to every piece of content you write. Focus on the benefits of what you have to offer, whether that’s a product, a service, or knowledge about a topic — not how great you are.
4. Make Sure You are Actually Solving Customers’ Problems
In addition to showing your value through content, strive to solve a problem your customer has. If you’re reading this post, chances are you’re wanting to learn more about content or at the very least learn how to find more customers. Therefore, by writing this post, we’re hoping to provide you with some actionable solutions to that.
If you’re a wine producer, for example, your customers want wine. Give them wine! Besides that, however, there are other secondary interests, like wanting to know more about wine. Therefore, starting a blog or posting on social media might help your customers learn about different wines and be more interested and informed about your product.
And don’t forget to sprinkle in your keywords while doing this.
5. Content Creation isn’t Everything
If it weren’t obvious yet, creating new content isn’t everything you should be doing. A successful content strategy includes creating content, but it also deals with taking a good, hard look at your old stuff and determining how you can make it better.
6. Dress Up Your Headers
Headlines are critical to winning customers and getting seen by search engines. Headers are those “Heading1” and “Heading 2” tags you see on the backend of your website. A header is the first thing an actual human will read on your site. Therefore, it’s important your headers are engaging, short, and contain a mix of your keywords (for the search bots).
Here’s a quick check you can use for writing headers:
- Do they use your keywords?
- Are they clear?
- Are they short and sweet?
- Are they interesting?
- Would another human being want to read this?
If you’re not familiar with heading tags, don’t worry. Here’s a very helpful guide from Yoast that our content team uses to explain headers.
7. Remember to Use Your Keywords
Ultimately, your websites are for human eyes to see and read. However, search engines like Google must know what your business is all about in order to show potential customers your company. To do that, Google uses little “bots” to scan your site. There are practically an endless number of ways Google evaluates your site, but keywords remain a major part of that valuation.
Don’t overuse them as Google can see through that and will punish you — yes, you heard that right. But don’t be afraid to pop one in there occasionally when it feels natural. Always write for the user first, not the robot.
8. Beef Up Your Top Priority Landing Pages
Remember that keyword ranking report we discussed in our first blog? Use this information gleaned from Google Search Console and your Google Analytics profile to find out what you’re ranking for well. These will be your top priority pages, for now at least.
Start by adding more relevant content to them and rewriting parts. However, be careful not to remove too much, since those already perform relatively well. Tweak those pages and incorporate any keywords you might be missing based on the top-performing pages for whatever you’re ranking for.
For example, if you’re a Texas winery but you’re only ranking on the second page of Google’s search results for “Texas wine,” you need to incorporate more of the keywords from the sites that rank on the first page.
9. Do it All Over Again, and Again, and Again…
Set a routine for when you’re going to create new content and when you’re going to focus your efforts on existing content. We recommend at least once a quarter to spend a few hours analyzing and improving what you’ve already published.
10. Create a Content Calendar
When you’re ready to start creating new content, start a content calendar. You don’t need anything fancy. It’s used as an organizational tool to hold yourself and your team accountable and so you can better plan future content. This includes both social media, website content and blog content.
There are countless templates out there, but you really only need columns for your internal due date, subject, author and publish date.
11. Quality is Always Better than Quantity
Another important tip: 1 awesome blog will always be better than 4 just OK ones.
We know it sounds cliché, but the amount of time you spend on a blog is directly correlated to the value and quality of your posts. Your customers will appreciate content that brings them value vs. content that doesn’t give them as much. This will have them hungry for even more.
12. Produce Longer Form Content
Another direct correlation to content quality is content length. This mostly relates to blogs and articles, since other forms of content like website, landing page or social media content should be short and punchy. While you shouldn’t put all of your efforts into your blog, it certainly should not be ignored, even if you only post once or twice a month.
13. Publicize Your Pieces
Once you finish a piece, get it out there — and do so through multiple channels! Posting a blog on its own can only accomplish so much and reach so many people. That’s why “integrating” other digital marketing tactics, such as social media, email marketing and public relations, is so important — and the very reason we exist. 😉
There is Still Work To Do
Even with a tight value prop and compelling content, it’s not enough to ensure customers won’t drop out of your funnel, even right before they’re about to become a paying customer! This where CRO and content converge, and is what we’re going to talk about in our penultimate blog on getting started with CRO and SEO.
If you’re looking for quick hitters NOW, then check out our webinar, where our CMO Paul Colgin goes over this very topic at a high level.