Hitting all the main points of an article, incorporating keywords properly and sticking to the requested word counts is a good start to creating content, but it's not all you need to do. With an increasing focus on quality content over other SEO practices, your words need to be better than ever if they're going to be effective.
Is your content really the best that it can be? Before you fire your next finished piece off to the client, ask yourself these five questions to make sure you're meeting the mark.
1. Will This Web Content Educate or Help Others?
The most important goal of web content is to be informative or helpful. People on the web have pretty thick skin when it comes to marketing and they don't have any patience for being sold to. What they do want, however, is to learn something new and to have their problems solved.
Before considering any piece of content complete, ask yourself what problem it solves or what question it answers. If you can identify a clear purpose for your content, then the biggest hurdle has been overcome.
2. Will This Content Showcase My Client's Expertise?
On the other hand, while solving all of life's problems is a fine goal, you want to make sure that the problems you're solving are helpful to the client, too. Your content should either showcase the client's expertise in some way or lend some credibility to the client to help establish them as a thought leader in their industry.
For example, a dentist would probably pass on an article about improving a home's curb appeal. He might, however, like an article on debunking home teeth-whitening tricks. Even though it doesn't directly promote dental services, the content lets people know that the dentist is interested in everyone's dental health whether they make an appointment or not.
3. Will This Content Increase Brand Awareness?
Increasing brand awareness means developing a voice and an image for a company that is recognizable and familiar to customers. When it comes to web content, building brand awareness means addressing the right audience with a consistent message that supports the goals of the brand. Seems like a pretty tall order for one bit of content you're charged with writing.
To make your content fit in with the rest, review existing blog posts and articles to get an idea of the audience the client is marketing to and the preferred style of writing they use. Keep your perspective consistent; don't jump in with a first-person narrative when everything else is in third-person formal. Lastly, make a note of any lingo or buzz words to make sure your language fits in with theirs.
4. Will This Help the Search Engines Find My Client?
Effectively incorporating keywords, phrases, and target ideas is essential to making sure your web content is optimized for search engines. The good news is that Google is pretty smart these days so you don't have to awkwardly work in an exact keyword a dozen times into the same piece.
Feel free to add a few words between keyword phrases to make them sit nicely in a sentence, and use slight variables or close synonyms to get the job done. And, if you can work the main keywords into the title and at least one subheading without risking quality, then you've done everything you can to help search engines find the content.
5. Will This Encourage Reader Engagement?
Writing engaging content is one thing, but writing content that encourages reader involvement is a whole different ballgame. Content that encourages engagement makes the reader want to comment, share, tweet, click that call to action, or otherwise do something because of what you wrote. It's no easy task but it's something you should strive for with everything you create.
Provide helpful tips that someone might want to share with a coworker, ask a question that begs to be answered, bring up a controversial subject and ask for opinions (although stay away from those hot-button issues that cause a little too much controversy), or include interesting statistics or facts that are easily shared.
Quality is King
All these points check and double check to make sure what you created focuses on producing quality content that not only meets the client's marketing goals, but is also useful to the reader. If you're able to answer all these questions with "yes," then you can be confident that your content is achieving its goals.