Everyone is talking about content creation like it's the most important thing in the world. The phrase "content is king" probably doesn't help either.
Sure, content creation has its place, and without it, you are really nothing online. The problem is, way too many people and brands take it way out of proportion. Content creation was extremely effective a decade ago, but now it's all about content promotion and the manual outreach that takes place after the Publish button is clicked.
I still find it amazing when I go to a conference or read new material online that says, "Create great content and people will find you." The truth is, content is great, but it will only get you so far. Before we look at how to best approach content creation and promotion, we must first look at the current landscape of the internet. There are more than a billion active sites on the internet today. That content has flooded the internet, thus making it harder for your site to rank in the search results and get that special attention it deserves.
With all of this in mind, it's no longer a question of how to create the best content possible; it's a matter of how to promote it to the masses.
3 steps to long-term success
The majority of content ranking on the first page of Google today (articles, whitepapers, etc.) contain more than 2,000 words. This doesn't only mean that content you post to your website should be extensive, in-depth and detailed. These are all best content practices, but the takeaway here is to create better content and not just more of it.
By this, I mean create five to 10 amazing articles that cover as much information as possible on an individual topic. This will work for local businesses, small businesses that are online, and even Fortune 500 companies looking to expand their reach and zone in on niche markets.
What most bloggers and brands are doing wrong is coming out with new 500- to 1,000-word articles daily and just pushing out as much content as they can.
This is wrong for a number of reasons
Ask any expert. They have a specific formula for not only how they research information for their content but also how they promote it. This strategy and formula are discussed in the latest marketing trends reports or cumulative SEO resource tips and articles.
You will see a common theme among the answers from these experts and how they reach their target audience, which is they focus less on content creation and more on content promotion. This is nothing new by any standards, but the process and research involved in doing this correctly is where most site owners and content creators fall behind.
Before we dive into why this is wrong, just using this three-step method below will drastically improve your content creation and marketing efforts.
1. Use a tool like Ubersuggest, AHREFS or SEMRush to find a winning keyword/topic before writing your document. Content creation starts before you've written a single word. It starts when you decide on the topic of your piece, who your target audience is and how you will provide value to them. When mapping out all of this information, online SEO and keyword tools can provide value and insight. When searching for your focus keyword or topic, grab three to seven relevant keywords that will act as subheads and talking points in your article.
2. Know what your audience wants and provide it to them in a way that exceeds your competition's methods. With all of your target and base information now in mind, you can do more research to see what type of content is already out there, especially from your competition. Using the information from the research tools mentioned above, head over to Google and see what sites are ranking for your sought-after keywords. You should be looking not only at the title and content focus but also at how long the articles are and their final calls to action.
3. Go live with your content article, then market the heck out of it for weeks and months to come. The last step in this process is to combine all of the information here with your research and, ultimately, create an excellent article and resource for your audience. To maximize your ROI, it's imperative that you promote your content through SEO, social media and paid marketing methods. For small business owners with a WordPress site, most of these SEO and social media management tasks can easily be accomplished through the Yoast SEO WordPress plugin, and using the Easy Social Share Buttons plugin to add social sharing buttons to your site. The more social sharing and onsite optimization you do for an article, the more likely it is to gain backlinks and shares from other locations, which will ultimately boost the site's ranking in Google.
Once you've practiced and mastered this process and have a clear idea of what works, you can search for those same target keywords and search phrases in Google to see what type of content other top-ranked sites are posting.
The takeaway here is to focus on quality over quantity.
Would you rather sell 1,000 widgets at $10 each or 100 widgets priced at $100 each? The correct answer is the 100 widgets at the higher price. This is also how you need to view your content creation and marketing efforts. It's much easier to create and promote 10 really great articles on your site than to always push out new articles and have each of them only receive a limited amount of promotion.
This method is being implemented by some of the top bloggers and brands in the world. The difference between those who are finding success with content creation and those who are not is the intensive, manual and time-consuming research and outreach that must take place, which includes the following:
- Content creation: When creating content for your site, make sure it has at least 2,000 words and is loaded with citations, stats, resources, and references to back up any statements or points you are trying to make. Break up the text with images so it is visually appealing.
- Content promotion: Once your content is ready to go, it's time to focus on promotion. In addition to sharing your published content with your mailing list, friends and customers, take advantage of social media platforms like Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn and any others you have a following on.
- Manual outreach: One of the most effective ways to gain attention and valuable backlinks for a site is manual outreach. This works best, but it takes a lot of time and effort. When reaching out to relevant and high-quality sites that might pick up and share your content, provide value in return. Offer to cross-promote and share their content on your site.
- Backlink building: Backlinks are the driving force behind how well your site ranks in Google. They also send a nice, organic, steady supply of traffic and clicks to your site. However, good backlinks aren't very easy to get. You will need to get creative. Consider using infographics and 404 broken link building to gain high-quality backlinks.
- Further optimization: Of course, you'll want to continually improve your content and your site. Sometimes the best method for accomplishing this and providing more value to your audience is adding testimonials, feedback from site visitors and even quotes from industry leaders who may then share your content.
As you can see, there are plenty of ways to make your content better, but if you don't promote it, it just gets lost in the mix. The investment of time and money into this strategy and these methods ultimately comes down to your knowledge and budget. However, all of this can be accomplished at little to no cost for those who are willing to put in the time, work and effort.
Be sure to implement these methods into your existing and new content creation efforts. Everyone is still going to be creating content for years to come, but those who succeed will follow a real content creation and marketing plan with measurable results.