The phrase “content is king” has been repeated ad nauseum across the internet ever since Bill Gates first introduced the concept back in 1996. It’s been repeated so many times that the phrase has almost lost its meaning. Sure websites must have content, but how much of the content on the web is useful and/or original? Perhaps Mr. Gates should have said, “Good content is king.” Good content attracts readers, and prompts them to share it with friends. Fortunately, you don’t need to be a genius scribe to write great content. Just follow the recommendations outlined below.
Write for Your Readers
This might seem obvious, but too often site owners fall into the trap of creating content about what they think they should be addressing. They don’t think about what their intended audience really wants or needs. Think about the typical person who reads your content. What are their pain points? What problems can you help them solve? What information can you bring to them that would make their lives easier?
If you’re ever at a loss as to how to answer these questions, do some research. You can do this in a number of ways, including:
Asking your readers what they’d like to see more of
Signing up for Google Trends to see what people are buzzing about
Visiting Q&A websites like Yahoo Answers to see what people are talking about in particular categories
Visiting relevant online forums to see what topics are most popular
Performing a keyword search with a tool like SEMrush to see what related keywords are most popular
Keep a List of Ideas
Having a running list of blog post ideas is important. Keep a notepad or your phone handy so you can jot ideas down when lightening strikes, and add all of these ideas to a text document on your computer. Don’t be too selective about what you add to the list. Write down anything that comes to you, even if it seems imperfect. Often ideas need some time to marinate before they become something you can use.
Spin That Idea
Most blog post and article ideas lend themselves well to multiple pieces of content. Have an article on why saturated fat is bad for you? Why not write it from another angle, like what sources of saturated fat to avoid, or how to cut saturated fat from your kids’ diet? You can also look at the topic from a seemingly opposite stance, like writing on fats that help you lose weight. If you have a “list style” article on top super foods, highlight each super food in its own separate blog post. When you get an idea for a new topic, spend some time brainstorming different angles.
Take Your Time
It’s perfectly understandable that you want to publish that genius blog post now. However, consider the implication of not taking your time to properly craft a blog post: In your hurry, you miss some grammar and spelling mistakes that your spellchecker didn’t catch. You leave out a couple of good points you would have remembered had you not been rushing. You realize you could have used better word choices. You forget to attribute a source, include a link, search for a picture, or add any number of small details that would have made your blog post more polished. Yes, the web moves at a fast pace, but not so fast that you have to sacrifice the quality of your content to keep up.
Create Serial Content
This is a great way to go in-depth on a subject without creating content that’s too lengthy. For example, Erin McNeany of the Never Ending Voyage published a very popular three-part blog series entitled, How to Sell Everything You Own. This is a topic that specific groups of people (world travelers) search for often. The series is so popular that it still ranks high in the SERPs, even though it was published in 2010. Think of a daunting problem you could help your readers with, and create serial content that would solve that problem.
Invite Guest Bloggers
No blog is an island unto itself, so feel free to invite others in your field to contribute to your blog. An added advantage is that the guest blogger will bring traffic with them if they’re well known enough.
Polish Your Skills
Writing is a skill that can always be strengthened. Invest time in improving your writing skills with resources like the Purdue OWL and Grammar Girl’s Quick and Dirty Tips. Above all, practice, practice, practice. This isn’t just important from a technical standpoint. The more you write, the more you establish your personal voice.
Anyone can create content, but not everyone can create good or even great content. If you can put these guidelines into action, then you’re on your way to creating great content that your website visitors will ultimately value.