Running a content audit on a website involves evaluating all of a site's written content to determine what it consists of and how effective it is. A content audit can entail analyzing the entirety of a website's content or only a part of a website's content. However, any size audit should lead to an improved understanding and awareness of what kind of content is being viewed by website visitors.
The Importance of Content Audits
Over time, a website's content could decrease in quality or stray from the central focus of a website. Content needs to be constantly geared towards the main business purpose of the company running the website. An audit can not only address quality or focus issues, but it can also determine topics and areas that need to be explored in greater depth via blog posts, landing pages, white papers, or whatever other type of content is offered on a website.
The Audit Process
Although running an audit on a site's content is generally an easy and straightforward process, it can be boring and tedious. Obviously, the amount of time necessary for performing an audit will depend upon the size of a given website. An audit of the content on a smaller website might only take an hour or two. However, it could take days to perform a sufficient audit of a larger site's content.
The following are the major steps to performing a content audit for a website:
- Gathering URLs- In general, you will first need to gather all of the different site URLs that have content on them so you know what you are looking at in terms of site content. This stage of the process is often termed a content inventory. Not only should you list all of the content-containing URLs on your website, but you should also put the information on a spreadsheet that includes fields for details on the content given at each listed URL.
- Considering organizational factors- Factors such as navigation title, page name, URL structure, and hierarchy are important in presenting content on your website. A content audit should not only involve looking at the content itself, but also looking at how that content is organized and presented. During your audit, you should be checking to see that navigation through different content pages is logical and straightforward.
- Determining how to handle content- After you've looked at all of your content, you need to determine whether posts/documents should stay the same or be removed, edited, recategorized, consolidated, or rewritten. Make sure the tone with which your content is presented fits your targeted audience, and check the accuracy and consistency of nomenclature that is used.
- Conducting keyword research- Obviously, your content needs to focus on the keywords for which you are trying to optimize your site. Your content needs to attract site visitors who are looking for your company's products and services. During a content audit, you need to take some time to evaluate your content in view of the characteristics of your targeted Internet users and what their search engine queries might be.
- Finding content gaps- What is your website missing? During the part of an audit that involves finding content gaps, you need to brainstorm on subjects/topics that haven't yet been addressed by your site content. This is an important step in expanding exposure on the Web to as yet unreached potential clients.
- Developing or revising your strategy- The last step in a content audit should be strategizing. Ideally, your content marketing campaign will already center on some overarching strategy goals. However, you will want to consider these goals anew in light of any changes that have come to your market, industry, or company since your last audit.
Major goals of a content audit
In the end, a content audit is really just about improving your content in any way possible. If you conduct a thorough, detailed investigation into your site's content, you will probably find a great deal of room for improvement. In fact, content audits are only the start of a long process.
Once you've completed your audit, you will probably have lots of work ahead of you so that you can make all of the necessary improvements that will optimize site content so that it has the best possible effect on both website visitors and search engine result pages.
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According to an article on ProBlogger, social signals are an indication to the search engines that your content is valuable. The more social signals your content is showing, the better your chances are of ranking high on a search engine results page. In other words, every time your content gets a like, a +1 or a share, your search engine rankings rise. So what's the difference between content that gets ignored and shareable content? Let's take a look.
Elements of Shareable Content
While there's no exact formula for creating shareable content, the most successful posts contain these four elements:
- Outstanding Title. This is point number one because it is the most important. Some experts even suggest that you should spend half of your time crafting the headline and half writing the content. Why? Because if the title doesn't grab the reader's attention, they're gone.
- Entertaining Media. Internet users love to be entertained with interesting visuals and graphics. While the text of your content might contain the most important information, images, videos, and graphics are what gets the initial attention and compels people to share with their friends.
- Easy to Digest. Lengthy narratives might get a few shares, but the vast majority of shareable content is short, easy to read, and easy to skim. Think top-ten lists, bulleted lists, how-to articles, and infographics. If you have to write a lengthy narrative, be sure to break it up with lots of subheadings and images.
- Valuable. Ok, this one might sound obvious, however, in order for content to be shareable it has to provide information that is so valuable that someone thinks that others need to know about it. Don't try to dole out the same old thing as everyone else. Instead, look for something fresh and new, or find a unique angle on an old subject.
A Nudge in the Right Direction
Getting your content in front of the right eyes is an essential step to generating shareable content. Putting a page about construction boots in front of an audience of elderly women that share a love of quilting won't get your content shared.
First, make sure you know who you want to talk to and focus your content on them. This might exclude a lot of people in the wider audience, but most of those people aren't likely to love and share your content anyway. It's better to really seize the interest of a narrow audience than to water your content down for a broad one.
Then, make sure you get your content in front of who you're targeting. Are you more likely to find them on Facebook or Instagram? Maybe LinkedIn or even a forum? Wherever they are, promote your content there so the right people can find it and start sharing it with their friends.
Consistency is Key
Of course, creating highly valuable, shareable content on a regular basis isn't easy. While you might not hit a home run with every piece, maintaining some consistency throughout all your content will help some of your B+ content get a little momentum from the A+ content. People will recognize your tone and voice and add some of the authority you've gained from other content to give everything else you do a boost.
Keeping your content formatted in a similar way and maintaining a consistent voice across all of your marketing efforts will help to establish this familiarity. You want the message of each piece to be unique, but the feel should always be consistent.
Focus on Great Content
Shareable content might give you a boost on a page of search engine results, but it also gives you visibility and the chance to connect with a wide range of people you might not otherwise have access to. Get more people engaged with great titles, keep your pieces formatted consistently, and make sure all your content is easy to digest and easy on the eyes and your content will travel far.
Your client's blog strategy is one of the most important elements of their inbound marketing campaign. You have undoubtedly heard the phrase “content is king.” A blog provides your clients with the means to index all of their content to improve search engine ranking, show their audience that they are active online, and provide visitors to their websites plenty of useful information.
Whether your clients are just starting out, or their current blog strategy is less effective than they had hoped, these tips will set you both on the right track:
1. Define the Purpose of Your Blog
The purpose of your blog impacts the type and style of your content. For instance, if you are looking to build a community of followers, you need to create informative content that sets you up as an expert. To sell more products, you need to demonstrate why consumers should make a purchase. To improve search engine rankings, you need to build posts around keywords.
2. Learn About Your Audience
Thinking about the goals of your audience can help you determine your objectives. There tend to be three reasons why users are looking for content: to advance their skill sets, to learn something new, or to be entertained by new facts, says HubSpot.
If you are unsure what your audience wants, the best thing to do is ask. This is easy if you are already active on social media. Plus, you can check what other pages your follower like to gain a greater idea of their interests, expectations, and desires. In addition, look through your communications with customers to check if any questions or concerns are frequently cropping up or if clients often request certain information.
3. Develop a Publishing Schedule
An editorial calendar can help you keep track of your blogging goals by enabling you to plan the release of different types of content on different subjects. It is also beneficial for your long-term blog strategy as you can analyze which posts have the highest performance, in terms of criteria such as traffic and conversions, to create similar posts in the future.
At first, it may be difficult to know how many posts you can reasonably expect to publish every week. In content marketing, more is always better, and even small business owners should aim to publish at least two posts per week, says Spokal. Remember, you can reassess your needs and abilities at any time and adapt your editorial calendar accordingly.
4. Create Great Content
Now you have completed all the planning work, it is time to start creating unique, attention-grabbing content. There is a lot that could be said about writing great content, but here are just a few basic tips:
Be original. Rewriting someone else’s work suggests that you know very little about the subject and only provides readers with information that they could find elsewhere. Worse still, Google penalizes websites for plagiarized and unoriginal content.
Proofread before publishing. Spelling and grammar mistakes make you appear unprofessional.
Avoid promotional material. Obviously, you want your content to lead to a conversion; however, no reader is going to enjoy reading a post that is just a disguised sales piece.
Include images. Diagrams, infographics, and photos split up the page, making it easier to read, and can even enhance a user’s understanding of content.
Publish guest posts. Pieces from guest bloggers are a great way to increase the amount of content on your blog and to obtain a different point of view on a subject. You can even invite coworkers to be guest bloggers.
5. Promote Your Content
Finally, you need to ensure that your target audience are seeing your content. If you are using relevant keywords, you should be receiving a decent amount of traffic through organic search. However, never underestimate the power of social media. Every time you create a new piece of content, post a link on all your channels. Plus, add social sharing buttons to all your content to encourage others to share.
A blog strategy is never static. Adaptations in your business, updates to search engine algorithms, and changes in the industry as a whole may mean that your past objectives or tactics become irrelevant in the future. However, whatever you do and whatever you want to achieve, regular, quality content is always the pillar of any blog strategy.
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Beginning your client's content marketing strategy can seem intimidating, but creating a successful content plan is actually pretty simple. A content strategy can, in fact, be one of the most straightforward ways to market your client's company. So, get to know their company, follow these steps, and you will be quickly on your way to generating traffic and leads for their website.
1. Establish your goals.
Typically, these are going to be something along the lines of:
Increasing website traffic
Generating more sales leads
Branding (creating a brand identity)
2. Determine the audience and understand what they want.
Who are your client's customers and what do they want? If this isn't something you're entirely sure of offhand, conduct surveys and focus groups with the people that you are marketing to. What do they want to know from you? That is what you'll be gearing your content marketing towards.
3. Establish a brand identity.
Create company hashtags and use those in your social media content. Use your logo, colors, signature typeface, etc. in all of your visual content. Determine the voice that you want your content to have--uplifting, informative, comical, etc.
4. Utilize multiple platforms.
Create videos, podcasts, images, blog posts, and tweets. By utilizing each of these different media, you'll be sending your message out to more and more potential customers.
5. Create an editorial calendar.
An editorial calendar is what you will use to organize your content plan. Create a calendar for each media platform you will be using--YouTube, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, etc.--and decide which days you will be posting to which platform(s). You will then work on creating your content for each platform.
For example, let's say you decide to post a video to YouTube every Tuesday, relevant blog posts and news articles to Facebook four times each week, and a daily image to Instagram detailing life at the company. You will create your content and then insert each item into the calendar ahead of time so you know what will be posted on what day.
6. Employ keywords and hashtags.
Determine which words and hashtags are the most searched by your target audience and use them in all of your social media and blog posts. This will help potential customers to find your content, eventually leading them back to your website, potentially leading to a new sale.
7. Monitor your results.
Your content plan is eventually going to change and adapt. Pay attention to which media perform better than others, then focus more on those. Some media may not be worth the investment you're making and you may decide to scrap those ventures. Maybe you'll bring on new media platforms. Content marketing is such an easy strategy to change and adapt and still gain good results from, so simply continue to monitor your client's revenue.
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Content for local search differs greatly from content aimed at a wider audience. For instance, in terms of SEO, localized content is usually built around long-tail keywords to gain traffic from a highly-targeted audience. However, optimization is just one aspect of creating local search content. For your clients to be successful in their efforts, you need to help them use strategies that will enable them make an impact in local communities and stand out from competitors.
1. Writing City Pages
There is one thing you should never do when creating local pages, warns Small Business Search Marketing, and that is to create a number of blog posts containing the same content, only with the city names changed. For one thing, search engines will consider this as low-quality, duplicate content and reduce your ranking in local search results. Secondly, this type of content is generic and unlikely to contain information of value for users in a particular city.
A much better use of your time would be to create different content for every location where you do business. Like this, you can write with the city’s unique features and its residents’ needs in mind.
2. Creating Different Types of Content
You will gain a greater outreach and more return visits to your client's site if you use various types of content. Here are a few ideas to get you started, based on ideas from Search Engine People:
Depending on your business, certain types of local guides may be more relevant than others. For example, if you sell equipment or products that consumers use outdoors, a guide to local walking trails could be ideal. For B2B and technology companies, the best local places for picking up WiFi may be suitable. A failsafe option for any business is a guide to interesting spots around the city, with a focus on places relevant to your client's industry.
Your blog or website will quickly become popular if locals can use it as a source for finding out about upcoming events. Whenever possible, send a representative from the company to attend these events, as this will allow prospects to see a face behind your client's company.
Afterward, remember to share information and photos from the event on the website. Those who did not come will see that you are active in the community, while those who did attend may share your content with others, especially if they see themselves in the pictures.
Whether you choose to publish testimonials or an interview, sharing the experiences that local customers had with your client's company can help prospects feel a connection with the business. Remember to include photos or a video of your clients and their customers in an area of the city that others will recognize.
3. Linking to Other Local Experts
Outbound links are useful for improving SEO, but you can take this one step further by creating content focused around another local business. A good option could be a company that provides services that go beyond your client's expertise but which are beneficial for their customers. Plus, if the business agrees to return the favor, you will increase your client's visibility even more.
Localized content is useful for building brand awareness and enabling consumers to consider you as a viable option. Make that content interesting and useful and prospects will begin to regard your client as an authority figure in the community. This is key to forming relationships, expanding the customer base, and becoming a business that consumers can trust.
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Unless your client has no online presence whatsoever, they are keenly aware that success in business today requires more than price, quality and convenience; it requires a comprehensive internet marketing structure built on a foundation of dynamic website content.
If they utilize social media, no matter which format, sooner or later friends/followers will visit their website to see what all the fuss is about. If, when they arrive, these potential customers find uninteresting, outdated or, heaven forbid, inaccurate content, then their website content strategy, to the extent they even had one, has failed.
So what's the key? How do you construct a website content strategy that will attract consumers, engage them via a call to action, and convert them into customers for your clients? There are numerous things you can do and countless sources to turn to depending on whether you're a newbie or technologically savvy (each of which creates its own set of challenges). For our purposes, we're going to assume that your client already has an established website and that their marketing department uses social media to increase their online presence. Given those factors, here are some things to consider when you develop a website content strategy for your clients:
Who are they? No, really, who are they? What is the business, what does it stand for, what is it known for? Identify its purpose and what they intend to accomplish via the site content. Ask third parties what they like and don't like about the site. Asking your client's best customers for their input will likely lead to some honest feedback (and may even increase their loyalty to your brand because you've made them feel valued).
Do the math. Whether you use Google analytics, adobe, webtrends, an analytics measuring tool of your own design, or any one of the many other tools available, utilization will provide you information about the impact of your client's website on its users and enable you to respond to how those visitors interact with the site in order to increase engagement.
What do they want to say? Once you've established the online persona you want for the company or organization and conducted your analysis of how many visits your pages receive, how many of them click through or away, and other data your analytics can provide you, you're ready to create content that is responsive to what you've learned. An effective website content strategy involves more than simply conveying information, its about telling a story, the story of your client's brand, in an informative, engaging way that holds the attention of the reader and calls them to action. Having said that...
It's not about them. Yes, we know, it's their website and the primary purpose of it is to market their brand. However, your client's website should not be an online ad. You've got...well...online ads for that. To be truly effective, a website content strategy should employ writing that goes beyond merely singing the brand's praises. Whenever possible, it should be useful to visitors, beneficial beyond simply helping them make a purchasing decision. If your website is perceived to be a source of objective, helpful information, visitors are more likely to read what's been written and are also more likely to return because they know your client's site is...
Current! Nothing spells doom for any Internet marketing campaign more than stale content. If a user returns to your client's site and finds content that hasn't changed from the prior visit, he or she is unlikely to come back soon, if at all. A key component of any successful website content strategy is regular updating to ensure that it contains fresh content.
Keep it simple. Don't get us wrong. We're not saying you should dumb your content down. We do, however, recommend that whoever writes the content for your client's site do so in clear and concise language that does not require the reader to have more than just general knowledge of the subject matter. We mentioned earlier that content should tell a story. It should not be a white paper. For that reason alone, your most competent technical employee may not be the ideal person to write for your client's site. Someone who possesses a passion for talking about it, however, is another matter!
Where are they? Your website content strategy won't be very effective if your client's visitors can't find them through search engines or, once they've clicked on your site, are unable to easily navigate to where you want them to go, get lost, then frustrated, and then disappear.
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What is Custom Publishing?
Custom publishing and content marketing are two terms that are often confused. Joe Pulizzi, content marketing expert and founder of the Content Marketing Institute, wrote in 2010 that both custom publishing and content marketing are terms that mean essentially the same thing: copy intended to promote products or services through education or entertainment, instead of more direct advertisements. Custom publishing was the term first used for this type of marketing since it was mostly produced by publishing houses, but these days you will more frequently hear it referred to as content marketing or branded content.
Regardless of what you call it, custom publishing is very important for today’s businesses: 9 out of 10 organizations are using content to market, and more than three-quarters of all CMOs believe that custom content is the future of marketing. For many business owners, the biggest challenge with content marketing is understanding how to get started with this method of marketing. There are several ways to do so: each one has its pros and cons.
Hiring A Marketing Company
This is the route that many companies today decide to take: the idea is that by hiring marketing experts to handle their content creation and publishing needs, they will save themselves time and maximize their ROI. As a marketing agency, you know that making this option affordable for companies of every size and budget is key. Also important is to assess the product or service. As marketing guru Neil Patel points out, if your client does not have a solid product or service, the expertise that marketing companies can provide will not be much help.
Doing it Themselves
Smaller businesses or startups often choose to go this route. The upside of creating content on their own is that they get publishing that matches exactly what they want to convey about their businesses, since it's being written in-house.
The downside of this route is that it takes the largest amount of time, and in order to be successful with content marketing, businesses need to have a consistent stream of new material to help bring in new customers. They can decide to hire a full-time member of their team to handle this task, but that is also a costly endeavor as they will have to pay someone an annual salary.
Using an Agency/Consultant
This option strikes a good balance between hiring a full-blown marketing agency and creating content on their own. An agency can outsourse content to freelance writers with knowledge in their clients' fields for a fraction of the cost of full-service marketing. An agency can coordinate and review projects, and many freelancers have an expert ability to meet the publishing needs of all types of clients. Companies that find a dependable freelancer have an excellent solution for custom publishing needs. The biggest challenge involved with hiring a freelance writer is finding one that can meet your requirements: you may have to experiment and work with multiple writers or publishers before you can find one that is right.
Curating Existing Content
While some may not consider this an actual form of custom publishing, content curation has become popular in the era of blogging because it is so easy. Many businesses use this strategy to get content for a blog or social media page effortlessly. Curating content from other blogs and web sites may give you a quick way to educate prospects about your client's general industry or products, but it is limited because they are unable to customize the content itself to fit the particular organization.
Whichever way companies decide to go with custom publishing, they should be sure to think carefully about it: this critical facet of their marketing efforts could be the difference between attracting new customers or losing the interest of prospects that come across their content. Discuss the options available with existing and prospective clients, to find the right fit for them.
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It’s fairly standard thinking these days that every company should have a blog – it is, after all, one of the cornerstones of a strong content marketing plan. But you may find yourself wondering what exactly should go on that blog. To answer a question with a question: Well, what do your clients' customers want?
The biggest rule of a strong business blog strategy is this: Provide value. Most businesspeople are busy, and their social media streams are already flooded with industry-related content every day. Your client's blog needs to stand out, or it needs to be such an invaluable resource that they come to them.
Here are a few ways you can make that happen.
1. Enrich the Pre-sales Experience
These days, consumers do all the necessary research to make purchasing decisions – or at least narrow the field to a couple options – before they ever make contact with a sales rep. And that’s if they ever make contact with a sales rep. B2B sales are fundamentally no different than consumer purchasing – in fact, 90% of corporate buyers age 18-35 now make their purchases online.
Branded content is, as a result, more important than ever for B2B marketers – by the time that purchaser engages with your company, she will be 57% of the way through the decision-making process. It’s critical to ensure that product information is readily available on your company website – and your business blog strategy can focus on ways to create value beyond your standard sales page.
Don’t worry about broad appeal – write for the people who are already interested in your client's product. Think of ways you can help to give them that extra push. Monitoring social media in your market can help provide additional intel, if you feel uncertain about the true needs of customers – and if you haven’t created customer personas yet, this is a great way to hammer out the customers’ hidden needs.
Create a series of articles highlighting different aspects of your client's product or different ways to use it – you may spark new ideas for potential customers or convince them that the product has superior flexibility. Provide real-world examples and workplace scenarios – you can create a more relatable, personal experience on the blog than on the sales page. And that can be very persuasive.
2. Communicate Industry News and Trends
Things move fast in the digital age, no matter what industry you’re in. Part of demonstrating that you’re worth your salt is keeping up with the trends – and it’s also, fortunately, an endless source of content for your blog.
Some key areas to keep an eye on include:
Done correctly – without showcasing or driving traffic to direct competitors – this strategy can help your client become a go-to resource for customers when they want to catch up on the latest industry news. Don’t be hit-or-miss in your coverage – become a reliable industry news hub. Then, when your readers have a need for the products or services your client just happen to offer, they'll be organically top-of-mind and well-positioned to capture the sale.
3. Provide Thought Leadership
There’s a fairly big difference between blogging about the latest happenings in your client's industry and creating meaningful, thought-provoking new ideas in areas of expertise. Think of it this way. The trend approach: “Apple creates new wearable device.” The thought-leader approach: “How wearable devices will totally reshape your business in the next five years.”
Cultivating a culture of thought leadership on your client's team and providing ways for their staff to share those ideas – namely, on their blog – will generate buzz and establish the company as one to watch. By consistently demonstrating strong ideas and superior expertise, you will make an impression on potential customers.
You can also make thought-leadership pieces work symbiotically with the business blog strategy by pursuing guest-posting gigs. Many websites allow guest writers to include a bio with their piece, and you can create a backlink to your body of work on the company blog – where the amazing content will lure them in and keep them coming back.
With a little work, a strong business blog strategy will leave you well-positioned to increase your company's mental real estate and capture more sales. Ideally, a combination of the strategies above will ensure a healthy mix of content that creates a compelling experience for readers.
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By now, you probably have at least a basic understanding of the importance of a website for your client's business. If not, you certainly should: according to the Content Marketing Institute, 93% of B2B marketers reported that they were using content marketing, and 81% said they were using website articles, making it the second-most common tactic employed by B2B marketers.
Even if you understand the importance of website content, creating a strategy for your client's site is not always simple and easy. To make this task even more difficult, trends and best practices in content marketing are constantly changing. Learning about the trends in website content that we have seen in 2014 will help you tailor your client's website strategy for success in the coming years.
The Importance Of The Mobile Platform
It is easy to witness the rise of mobile devices for yourself: the next time you walk down a busy street, just look around and see how many people are on their smartphones. Want the numbers behind the exponential growth of mobile device usage? 9 out of every 10 American adults own a cell phone. In the coveted 18-29 year old demographic, over 80% of Americans own a smartphone. Most importantly: today’s Americans aren’t just using their phones to talk. Around 58% of consumers have already used their smartphone for store related shopping, while 63% of people expect that they will shop more on their mobile devices over the next few years.
What do these numbers mean for your client's website content? Put simply, you can’t ignore the mobile platform. To have a highly successful website in this era, you must have a page that is responsive, i.e. adapts its layout and interface to the device that your page visitors are using.
Assigning The Responsibility
Another statistic that should provide some key clues for business owners looking to improve their website content relates to business organization: 86% of the most effective marketers have a person in place to oversee content marketing strategy. If your client doesn't have a person or team of people in charge of content already, it will be very valuable over the next few years for them to dole out this responsibility to someone with a good grasp on the principles of website marketing. Titles like “director of content” or “website content strategist” will become more and more common as the number of businesses seriously pursuing content marketing continues to rise.
Quality Over Quantity
This may be the most important aspect of website content strategy. Search engine algorithm updates like Google’s Hummingbird have made high quality web content critical to the success of any company’s online presence. Gone are the days of black hat website strategies like keyword stuffing: today, you need to have a way to publish relevant, timely, customer-centric content on your client's site if you want to succeed in converting leads to customers. If your company doesn’t have the capacity to handle this task in-house, outsourcing your content creation needs is an excellent idea, as long as you can find the right providers.
A Cohesive Online Strategy
A big part of success with website content involves other areas of marketing strategy, like posts on social media pages and newsletter messages. Your marketing tactics must be tied together to form a unified brand message that your prospects will remember. What you put on your web site should have the same overarching message as your Facebook updates, which should in turn have the same message as your Twitter posts. Consistent marketing communications will help your audience better recognize and understand your brand, which is integral for successfully winning new customers.
Stay abreast of trends in online marketing and you will find it much easier to use the power of website content to make your client's business stand out from all of the other companies looking to claim their share of the rapidly-growing online world.
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The seemingly endless chain of search engine updates has moved the world of SEO slowly toward one fundamental goal - the creation of high quality content.
While the other aspects of search engine optimization like link building and in-depth keyword research are still just as important as they ever were, quality content has taken the stage as the star of the SEO show. Content is, was, and always will be king, but how can you continue to create quality content in a world so saturated with content that nearly everything seems to be similar to something else?
The Hallmarks of Quality Content
Quality content is usually defined as content that is original, valuable, and engaging. That definition, however, is as specific as it is vague, and it can often leave someone feeling as though they've entered the Twilight Zone of search engine optimization. Google has released webmaster guidelines that specific what they believe quality (and quality content) to be, replete with a bullet list of attributes the content should possess. Google even provides some guidance on their interpretation of content that is empty or devoid of originality.
While any content can be modified to make it original, valuable, and engaging, the true hallmarks of quality content are:
Content that possesses value to the reader by imparting information relevant to the reader's wants or needs
Content that answers a question, fulfills a desire, meets a need, or solves a problem for the reader (even if it may be a question or problem the reader was unaware of when they began their search)
Content that is presented in a unique way or via a fresh perspective, departing from the "same old, same old" rehashing of information found to already exist in countless online locations
Lists Are Typically Not Considered "Quality" Content
Lists are extremely popular in blogs and online articles because they provide information in a format that is easy to read. This method of delivering information is preferred among many because the majority of online users are scanners; they skim content to find that which appeals to them, is unique in some way, or meets their needs. With many lists, it is actually the headline itself that grabs the reader's attention and motivates them to examine the list in detail.
Despite the popularity of lists, they are not considered to be quality-infused content for the most obvious reason - they are nothing more than a retelling of information found somewhere else. While one list may be significantly different from another, the basic data contained within the list is culled from other lists, making it as lacking in originality as possible. The reader, most often, is looking through the list to find something they've yet to see, which is why the format itself is quite successful.
How To Create Content That "Wins" the Quality Contest
Google provides, in part of their Webmaster Tools, a course module for creating content that is high quality. While you can follow a specific set of instructions and create content that could be considered rich in quality, it still may fail miserably among your readers.
The first (and most important) way to create content that is quality-rich is to define your audience. After all, you cannot give them what they want if you don't know who they are. If you are thinking globally, whittle it down to a more reachable target. Choose one segment of your desired audience and write for them. Find out what they want or need, discover a problem that is plaguing them, or learn what questions they have for which they've yet to find answers.
When you have defined your audience, it is much less challenging to create content that will appeal to them, and it also gives you a better definition of what content will appeal to them. Once you know who you are writing for and what they want to know, the rest is easy by comparison.
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