If you’ve been looking into SEO for quite some time, you’ve probably seen ‘Content is King’ banded around the online sphere enough to make you want to code a blank website and retire. But it can’t be denied that this is a fact. Particularly with Google’s latest updates, creating great content is the key to a sustainable SEO campaign.
Everyone is intrigued by great content. Regardless of whether it is news, video, images or just a story someone tells you. It makes life go round, makes people laugh, cry and (to keeping to the online sphere) it makes people share. When I first started out on the road towards becoming an SEO, I was reading my first SEO blogs and getting intrigued, but all I could ever see was “you need to create great content.”
Hold on. How’s it suddenly going to happen when trying to promote, let’s say, Spa Special Offers for a client but know nothing about spas, being a male and never had a massage? Well it wasn’t. You always dream of being someone who pulls something out of the air like a modern day Don Draper. Unfortunately, being an SEO involves more than just a creative slogan and an image, being an SEO is about innovation.
Here’s a quote from my favourite film, the Prestige:
“Now you're looking for the secret. But you won't find it because of course, you're not really looking. You don't really want to work it out. You want to be fooled.”
Whenever you speak to someone who is a true authority on a subject, whether that be swimming or SEO, you are often taken aback by the amount they know about their interest. This is not because they pulled something out of the air, but because they’ve lived and breathed their subject, they know the content, are interested in the subject and the good content is even more interesting to them. You want to be fooled that there is a quick technique and some secret you can learn to perform. In reality, there isn’t.
Here are 5 steps to creating great content:
I. Be Informed
Being informed about your subject is essential. You need to have an understanding of the content Google likes, the audience, current trends and hot topics. There are many ways to do this, but one great way to keep on top of it is to use Google Reader, which I’ll cover later.
Here are some questions I commonly ask new clients to try and gain an insight into their market, product and audience. If you’re working on your own site’s SEO, simply try and answer these questions to the best of your ability yourself.
- Who are your target customers? Do you have any idea of their behaviour online? What sites do they visit, where else do they spend their time online?
- What are the key terms do you think you should rank for?
- Who are your main competitors?
- What are your longer term branding goals?
- What is your budget/time for content development? How much time have you got to build new content? Or how much budget have you got for me to build new content? This is integral to link building.
- Whose digital marketing approach do you like?
- How much budget/time do you plan to allocate for SEO?
- What role do you want to play?
This gives you enough to begin structuring an SEO strategy as well as start research on their demographic, target customers and market.
II. Be An Authority
A key to a good online presence is having your name, company and profile appearing in the right places. If you're informed about your subject, you should be aware of the influencers in your field, the websites your potential customers visit, target keywords and the content Google likes.
Top tip: Finding an authority in your field and the platforms they engage on is a great way to find a network to get your content placed.
From understanding this you can see who, which platforms and what content will help to develop the authority you require. From this you can plan how you will develop this influence, but for me it is difficult to disregard the opportunities that guest blogging offers.
Especially with Google Authorship you can now establish yourself as an authority within your niche. By setting up a simple microformat on your blog you can add presence to your blog articles when found via organic search.
This can lead to better guest blogging opportunities, better SERP presence and improved online presence. Here is a good guide from the people over at Search Engine Land for Google Authorship.
III. Be Connected
Nowadays being connected is simple. The digital age has brought nothing but connectivity, yet the question is how do you leverage this to improve your site’s SEO.
By engaging, helping, participating and communicating with your peers, friends, industry competition and authorities in your chosen field, you establish your reputation and build friendship which lead to links. Building relationships doesn’t have the immediate impact of a directory listing but gives you the platforms, contacts, resources and methods to build in the long term.
So by keeping connected with everything and everyone important in your industry, you keep on top of the opportunities available and give yourself the opportunity to build links.
IV. Be Creative
Being creative can be a struggle. There are many gadgets out there to help you being creative, but keeping in touch with what is happening online helps to fuel your creativity. One of my favourite tools (which is free) is Google Reader, here is a guide to Using Google Reader to Find Content..
This is particularly important, as no one wants to read, engage with or share something that has been done before. Understanding what content is out there, identifying trends and being creative is key to generating great content.
V. Be Analytical
Understanding how your content does or does not work, is as important, if not more than creating the content itself. There are many ways to keep track of this depending on how and where you place the content.
If the content is placed on your site, the obvious choice is Google Analytics. The key factor to focus on is engagement. In order to measure this, the best metrics to keep your eye on are Pages / Visits, Avg. Visit Duration, % New Visits and Bounce Rate.
Depending on the purpose of the content, different metrics can be more important than others. For new landing pages, it’s great to have high % of New Visits, however if you're writing articles to engage with your current visitors, duration on site is much more important than % of New Visits.
For content that is not directly placed on your site there are other ways to measure the engagement it drives. Bitly is a great tool for measuring how your Facebook and Twitter content is consumed. It gives accurate stats on clicks, dates, location and referral methods.
Unfortunately there is no easy way to create great content; however, being informed, an authority, connected, creative and analytical can give the best opportunity to create great content that will be shared and get you those inbound links you need.
Jeremy McDonald works for SEO Bournemouth. Jeremy has an interest in everything digital, particularly SEO, PPC and Digital Marketing. He also spends too much time on Reddit.