The Secret of Great Content


James Keady, Digital Marketing Manager for McLaren Automotive couldn’t have put it better in a post in eConsultancy.

Content marketing is reaching a point where having a digital presence is no longer good enough to achieve cut through, you need a value add proposition and this is best done through a strong content strategy that reaches your audience on the right platforms at the right time in an engaging way.

What Does Content Strategy Mean?

There are many reasons that people go online.  They want to be entertained , educated, go shopping, find materials for a specific research project or share pictures of their cat with their friends.

People spend seconds in making their decision to visit your page and every single detail will make a difference. Good website design makes a difference but first you need to make sure you take care of the basics.  It may start with Google (or Bing) search results.  You may not realise this but you can control how these are displayed.  If you do show up for a search for someone you need to make sure that you catch peoples eye in the first place.  Below is what I consider a poor search result from my own website.

content-marketing-tips-search-result-example

The Title and Meta Description

In the red box you see the Title is Content Marketing Tips – Grange Website Design. This is one snooze of a title.  It doesn’t make you want to click on it at all.  Then move onto the blue box which is known as the meta description.  Google pulls this from a specific tag on your website page and for most content management systems you can edit this yourself.

It is limited to 156 characters is not well edited and the incomplete sentence is poor editing.  If you don’t  create a specific meta description Google will take text from anywhere on your webpage that they want so it makes sense to create something that is at least meaningful.

In reality peoples eyes flash over items like this and they make super fast decisions on whether to click.

I have had people ring me up about work who haven’t even clicked through on my search results.  This is because on my home page meta description I have placed my contact number and they don’t  to to my website they just ring the number. Yes – they never even visited the website.

If you want to know how to display your avatar to the left of search results then follow Googles instructions on rel=authorship.

Edit Your Content

You need to edit your content.  When I started blogging and writing content first I used to fire out posts and pages like a machine gun in the mistaken belief that it would be enough.  Usually whaat I wrote was

  • Badly written
  • Too verbose
  • Had several spelling mistakes
  • Wasn’t that interesting

All of these give a poor impression.  Spelling mistakes also give a poor signal to the reader.

Think of when you were in school writing an essay for one person (the teacher) you spent a few hours writing a two page essay and even longer making sure of spelling and wording.

You put this effort into delivering content for one person.  How much effort should you put in for a wider audience?

I still could put a lot more effort into whatI write.  Even the best online writers say that they can still improve.

How to Edit Your Content

When I write posts I usually write, rewrite scratch out, check wording, print, read aloud and overall 100% make sure that it makes complete sense.  I say usually.  I still fall into my old habits and when I do what I produce is mediocre and I have to go back 9 times out of 10 and re-edit it.

If you print off your content, sit down and look at it and doodle, scratch you will make it better. You will spot many mistakes on a paper copy that get missed on the screen.  Many writers suggest you write a piece, walk away then revisit it and make some edits and then publish it.  Either way don’t  write in one long stream and hit publish.  There will be mistakes.

You may think you aren’t a writer but you are.  You may not be John Grisham but when you produce online content you are a writer so the onus is on you to write something useful and reasonably well written.

Links Work – Use Them

There are two types of links on a web page.  Internal links link to other places on your website and external links link to other websites.

When Google visits your page it looks at all the links on the page.  If you have no internal links on the page it doesn’t give a great message.  It helps to link to other relevant pages on your site.

Up the ante with the amount of other links that people can refer to.  Not just linking to posts here on the site but to the many other sources of information that are out there. Try and give at least 3-4 useful external links now on all my posts so people can get other perspectives.   For instance here are some tips from Copyblogger on how to write compelling copy

Why do this?  Don’t  be an island self promoting your own content all the time.  It also shows that you have pout some thought and research into this topic.

This adds additional research time to my content creation but gives a richer set of references to the reader.

Practice Doesn’t Make Perfect

Practice doesn’t make perfect.  It gives you the habit of writing.  What does make perfect is having some simple rules and editing techniques for every piece of content you write.  Write the tips down.  A post-it will do.  Put it next to your screen.  It can look like this on my screen.