Everyone’s competing for eyeballs.
Well, everyone’s actually competing for pageviews, hits, numbers, share of attention, RTs, shares, pins, love, kisses, etc. Whatever your metric, it’s a dog eat blog world out there. When I work on content strategy with my clients, we start with these 5 content essentials:
1. Solve People’s Problems
Can you solve a problem that is common to many people? “Step by Step” or “how-to” posts get bookmarked, saved, re-read, and shared. Don’t forget to include a title that describes said problem, and a teaser of one of your solutions in the subtitle. A significant amount of search engine queries begin with a question. It makes sense to structure your content in a way that provides answers to the questions that people ask. Think backwards from problem to solution. People also like to share things that will also solve their friends’ problems – it raises their social capital! That’s the kind of content that really makes the rounds. Ask yourself: “if I came across this post on Facebook (Twitter, LinkedIn, etc), would I stop to read it or reshare it?”
2. Use Keywords, Sparingly
The adage is true: “Write for humans, not for search engines.”
That being said, tailoring your language to your targeted readers only makes sense, but in all the ways that are natural to good writing. The sneaky practice of keyword stuffing does nothing for the other metrics that also mean a lot to search engines, including relevancy to the search performed (see #1), the time spent on site reading your content (establishing the site as trusted – which Google LOVES!), and the likelihood that other sites will want to link in. A headline that speaks to the emotions will draw more readers (and sharing) than one that is purely descriptive. You don’t have to go full-Upworthy…but maybe half. Providing images that can be meta-tagged is a great way to incorporate keywords without making a mess of your wonderful words.
3. Get Social
Social networks are like large firehoses spewing information, but there are some tips you can try to help your content cut through the chatter.
Pin a post to the top of your profile, especially on Twitter and LinkedIn. This is a great spot for “calling card” posts that show off your writing chops.
It might feel like overload, but posting 3 times a day on the day your content is published can really boost the numbers. Use a scheduler like HootSuite or Buffer to cover all the time zones. Vary your descriptions and sneak a little testing into your posts. You’ll appreciate the insights when you learn what resonates with your audience.
Tag those who are mentioned in your post. Tell ‘em personally via DM or Messenger. They’ll appreciate the PR and you’ll appreciate the RTs.
Email – delivered from one person to another – is an awesome place to ask for the share. Even if you don’t have a formal list, sending your most recent content to your most beloved contacts is highly likely to result in a share. Asking for feedback and reactions is a great way to position this ask.
This tip comes with a caveat, however. “Your most beloved” contacts refers to people you actually know…your friends. We don’t mean every person you met at that social media conference last summer, unless they have actually opted in to receive such communications from you. Give yourself a CASL refresher if you’re still not sure. Mailchimp provides an awesome rundown of the legal stuff. Learn it.
5. Chunk It Out
Reading online (and usually on teensy weensie phones) requires particular structural practices to keep the eyeballs on the content. Headlines, sub-headlines, and bullet points (see #2) are all more easily digestible than big hulking paragraphs that strain the eyes.
Chunking your content into manageable paragraphs will lead to more time spent with the piece, and more impact to the reader, which increases your chance of getting shared. See how that works?
If your website is not responsive to mobile devices, the reading experience may be keeping your visitors away, and no amount of fancy formatting work is going to help. Use Google’s Mobile Friendly test and see how you fare.
So there you have it. Before you fret about your lacklustre numbers, set the intention to go through this list of five content strategy tips before publishing your next piece. In the information-firehose world we live in, all good ideas need a little help to be found when they’re bobbing around at sea. I hope these tips lead to a few less bobs.