How to write relevant, engaging content that gets read
By Sarah Mueller on July 30, 2017 in Digital Marketing
"One day I will find the right words, and they will be simple."
- Jack Kerouac
Everyone desires to write the perfect content, rocket to the top of search results, and become a wild success. The reality is that brands and content creators are vying for attention on the same topics every day, resulting in what some people refer to as “content shock.” How do you stand out from the crowd? And how do you create content that people want to read? More importantly, how do you find topics to write about?
Image Credit: Smart Insights
Successful bloggers don’t just sit at a blank screen and spit out a winning blog post without any forethought or planning. Great content is more often a result of careful research. If you’re new to content planning, here are a few tips on how to create your blog editorial calendar based on search demand, seasonality, and trends.
Conduct keyword research to identify content themes
Anyone who works in SEO understands the idea of keywords. Including keywords in your content can increase your visibility for your topic. There’s more to it than that, but the general idea with keywords is to uncover the words your prospective readers are typing into Google about the topic you have chosen to cover.
Keyword research can also be helpful to uncover the terms people are searching to identify content opportunities. You may have existing content that could be enhanced by matching it with these keywords, or you may be planning fresh content to fill your blog calendar. Either way, be sure to write in language that mirrors the words that people use in regular conversations.
Old SEO practices looked a lot like keyword stuffing. Some writers cared more about the frequency with which their targeted keywords appeared within the content than about the content itself. All too often the result of keyword stuffing is bad copy that reads as fragmented and mechanical. Today, Google values quality content that reads fluently. If you try to read your content out loud and stumble over the words, chances are you need to rewrite it.
Don’t get too hung up on keywords - instead focus on quality content
Search engines are increasingly prioritizing semantic results for user queries. This means that search engines are getting smarter about returning results that are meaningful, even if the results do not contain the exact terms that were searched. To ensure that your writing is easily digestible, make sure to write like you're having a conversation.
Picture a real person and talk to him as though he were sitting in front of you. When marketers do this, we call it a buyer persona and yes, we give them names like “Hank” and even a photo and personality. It's easier to provide digestible information when you know that Hank is a middle-aged man who cares about his appearance but is fiscally conservative.
Use keywords to uncover searcher’s intent
Keyword research can help you determine words and phrases that searchers commonly use to search for your desired topic. It can also help you uncover the searchers’ intent - what they really want to know about that topic. Let’s walk through an example of how you might accomplish this.
Say you own a construction business and you’d like to compare the popularity of kitchen remodels with bathroom remodels. You use Google trends to determine that over the past 12 months, bathroom remodels have been more popular than kitchen remodels and that both topics experienced a spike over the past week.
Since bathroom remodels have a slight edge, you decide that will be your topic and you dig deeper into that topic to find your searcher’s intent. In the related queries area, you see that the top intent is bathroom remodel cost, and find that related queries include cost, ideas, and “how-to” type content. Use that intent to help shape your content outline.
Consider Topic Seasonality
If you are in marketing, you know that many products and services experience seasonality. If you play your cards right, you can use this seasonality to benefit your marketing efforts. And I’m not talking about simply scheduling a “Happy Valentine’s Day” message on your business Facebook page - I’m suggesting you dig a little deeper.
Some seasonality trends are easy to predict. For instance, gardening projects tend to peak in the early spring months as everyone gets ready for planting. However, seasonality can be more subtle and may even be caused by something that seems unrelated. For instance, a bank may see higher than average web traffic the weekend following Thanksgiving because retail spending was high and customers want to check their account balances. By understanding the seasonality of consumer behavior, the bank can identify that pattern, anticipate their customer’s needs, and proactively provide solutions and related content.
As digital marketers, it’s part of our job to research, identify, and plan for these spikes and dips in consumer behavior. By anticipating trends and creating content to meet them, we can ensure that the content we deliver is relatable, relevant, and engaging.
Image Credit: Content Marketing Institute 2016 Benchmarks, Budgets, and Trends
Trends may not always be seasonal. Trends can also be related to popular culture, fashion, or general consumer optimism. For instance, if you are a home blogger, you may be influenced by color trends, interior design, the fashion industry, or even technology. Exploring Google Trends over the last 30 days under the topic of “Homemaking & Interior Design,” you discover that one of the top rising search queries relates to the Amazon Wand. You may wish to do some research around this product and write a blog post about it and how it can be utilized by your readers.
Whatever your business, you will be impacted by trends, search terms, and seasonality. Learning how to research, evaluate, and utilize these to influence your content will benefit you and your audience.
Pro Tip - Don’t plan for content that decays once it hits - plan for a content cycle that keeps going! To keep your content from dying, promotion and distribution is vital.
Why go through all this trouble?
Everyone is a writer. You don’t need a special degree or moniker to author content. That being said, the world of web writing is not “if you build it, they will come.” (Yes, that’s a Field of Dreams reference.) That is, just because you write what’s important to you and your business does not mean that your potential customers will willingly read and engage with your content. Good content is not only interesting, it helps you to achieve relevancy and authority, and it will go a long way toward building your brand. Good content gets read and shared. Don’t just contribute to the noise online, set out to produce content that your customers and potential customers will find useful.