How to Write Engaging Content for your Website
Content is … STILL King
I’ve been preaching the value of good content for years now, and although the technology, search engines and social media platforms are changing faster than we can often keep up with … one thing hasn’t changed: Content is still King. Here are some recent statistics to verify that:
- “On average, B2B marketers allocate 28% of their total marketing budget to content marketing.”
- “Content marketing leaders experience 7.8 times more site traffic than non-leaders.”
- “56% of marketers believe that personalized content promotes higher engagement rates because content produces brand recall, which increases engagement.” (Content Marketing Institute)
Good Content is Good Investment
A website with a library of keyword-rich, engaging, relevant and informative content will never struggle to climb the SERPs (search engine results pages), nor will it have to continually increase their PPC ad budgets because they will see traffic increase organically. Spending the time, mental energy and creativity to write valuable content will be your online presence’s greatest asset. And when you invest that time in your blog post, web page, white paper … you will see residual benefits over time.
- “One in ten blog posts are compounding (posts whose traffic grows steadily over time), meaning organic search increases their traffic over time.”
- “Compounding blog posts make up 10% of all blog posts and generate 38% of overall traffic.”
- “Over its lifetime, one compounding blog post creates as much traffic as six decaying posts.” (HubSpot, 2016)
I can attest to these statistics as I have blog posts that are 4-5 years old, yet still get traffic everyday, every week and every month. When you create content that shows persistent value and that continually attracts an audience over weeks and years, it can be assumed that is a topic that generates interest in your target audience. Take heed of those statistics, and utilize that topic again when writing new content, for example delve deeper into that topic, analyze various aspects of that subject from different perspectives, and write about related subjects. That way, you’re regenerating a subject that has shown success but you’re not being redundant or repetitive.
Recycle & Reuse Content
When you’ve invested the time to research, write, edit and stylize that blog post or page, you’ll get more traction out of that investment by recycling it. How?
- Promote your content on your various social media platforms, sporadically (1) referencing a point from the article/post, (2) adding a quote or topic you discussed in that content, or (3) asking a question that the article answers.
- Use it on your email marketing, showing an excerpt or synopsis that is sure to peak your audience’s interest and always include a link so they can read the full article.
- Reuse the content on your fliers, print ads, or newsletters with a QR code to link back to the page/post.
- Use that research and discuss that topic in your presentations, workshops or group discussions.
- Discuss those topics when conversing with peers, partners, leads and customers when networking. If you have the opportunity, work in your research in your lengthier elevator pitch or group introductions and guide your audience to your blog to learn more.
How to Write Engaging Keyword-Rich Content
When I bring up the benefits of content to my clients, first on their website and then consistently adding to their blog, I usually get the same complaint about the time it takes and then that they have no idea what to write about. So let’s start with your website content. You website content should accomplish the following goals:
- First and foremost, bring traffic to your website. More accurately, you want traffic in your specified location(s) and within your target audience.
- Promote your products and services, directing your visitors to a specific call-to-action and conversion.
- Show & Tell your brand’s unique story, as well as answer frequently asked questions.
So how can you write content to accomplish all of the above?
I. Choose an appropriate Time & Place for Content Creation. You will need to find a quiet place to put your thoughts down on paper (or digitally) where you won’t feel hurried nor be interrupted sporadically. Interruptions (whether in person, on the phone, or social media notifications) disturb the flow of creativity in seconds and take up to 20 minutes to resume. Make an appointment with yourself, written in ink on your schedule to write your brand’s story.
II. Use your website’s outline or page layout to develop your story. I provide my clients a outline of all pages and what those pages should include, providing a organized layout of their new or updated website. Have this or a similar outline in front of you when writing your content. Use it as a checklist and start on the page or topic that you find easiest to write on.
III. Use a question and answer format to break the ice. If you’re having writer’s block, make a list of questions (or ask your web designer / internet marketing firm) to get you started. I find that my most content-challenged clients find it easier to answer questions in person or write them down from a list I provide and often include in website’s page layout. Although the questions should be industry-specific, here’s a sample list of general questions:
- History: What is your company’s history and what was the inspiration behind your business? What year did you open your business and how has your brand evolved over the years? What accomplishments, awards, recognition have you achieved?
- Products & Services: How is your product made? What are the ingredients and where are they sourced? What do your services include and how are they delivered? What makes your product superior or different? What are the list of benefits short and long-term? What need or want does your products/services fill for your target audience? Who will benefit from them? How will your product make your customer feel satisfied? What assurance do you provide if they are not? What is your return or refund policy?
- Your Brand: What is your mission statement? How does your brand stand out among your competitors? What is your company’s policies, terms and values when providing your services and creating your products? Are you a good corporate citizen in that you support local or diverse causes? How do you communicate with your customers and ensure their satisfaction? What is your brand’s unique personality and what defines your mission? If the owner(s) are a part of the brand story, what is their experience, unique skillsets, philosophy, responsibilities and their contribution to the delivery of the company products?
- Your Team: Who make up your team and what is their role? What is their professional and personal story? How do they contribute to the products and services your company provides?
- Contact: What are your company hours? How do you want your customers to contact you? Where are you located? What is your phone, fax, email and social media accounts?
- FAQs: What are your customers’ most frequently asked questions when introducing, selling and providing your product? Write these questions down and answer them with careful, well researched and accurate answers that will instill confidence in your target audience.
IV. Ensure keyword-rich content without compromising quality. Write down a list of valuable, well-performing keywords that will attract your target audience. If you’re needing help on how to research keywords, see my post about how to find the right keywords. Once you have your list together, go through your content and ensure they are logically embedded through your pages without comprising the quality and readability of your content. Notice this step is AFTER you’ve already written your content, and this is because you don’t want your focus on keywords to inhibit your process and flow.
Google has gotten very intuitive about ranking content that is written for humans, over content that is stuffed with keywords with very little quality content. The 500-600 algorithm changes per year ensure a better user experience, so users find high quality, relevant sites in their searches. As Google says, “Provide high-quality content on your pages, especially your homepage. This is the single most important thing to do.”
Some SEO experts have mathematical equations to determine ratios of keywords amidst word counts of your pages/posts. If you think this is a bit extreme, I tend to agree with you and I don’t think it promotes quality writing. Consider that the overall content determines how Google indexes your pages with related terms, synonyms and words relating to the main topic. This is called Latent Semantic Indexing (LSI), which is a mathematical method used by search engines to determine the relationship between terms and concepts in content.
For example, if you were a restaurant owner writing about your establishment, it would be logical to assume you’d use ‘restaurant in Your City, Your State’ in your article; but you’d also typically use related words like ‘eatery’, ‘cafe’, ‘menu’, ‘food’, ‘cocktails’, ‘entree’, ‘appetizer’, ‘cooking’, etc. While it’s important to use your targeted and secondary keywords on your list, the rest of the content should also be littered with synonyms to convince search engine spiders that your article is relevant and quality content.
V. Write your FULL story … and then some. I don’t mean to discourage those who lack the time or the interest in writing, but recent studies show the pages with over 1000 words perform better and rank higher in Search Engines. Hubspot found that the sweet spot was between 2,250–2,500 words. Don’t compromise quality for length, so write out the details, the hows, the whys and whens so you’re providing and engaging and comprehensive answer to their questions. And logically, if the content is longer, there is more opportunity for keyword placement. It’s a win-win.
“The average first-page result on Google contains 1,890 words.” (Source: Backlinko, 2016)
VI. Edit & Stylize your Content. After you’ve finished your first draft, proofread, edit and revise once and then twice. You may even solicit help from staff, your internet marketer, or family or friends to ensure a second pair of eyes on your final draft before you publish. After the content is refined, stylize your content so it’s easy-to-read, is visually appealing and easy-to-scan. Make sure the font style and size is legible, the line-height and letter spacing is adequate, and you are making good use of subheadings, bulleted lists, bold, italicized fonts to signify key points and appeal to our short-attention span generations. Add relevant photos, images and infographics to emphasize the topic of your article, add visual appeal and reinforce your branding.
VII. Analyze the Results. In the days, weeks and months ahead, consistently analyze your statistics to see the effectiveness of your topic, use of keywords and cross-promotion. In time, you will begin to see which articles are compounding, generating the best consistent traffic and conversion rates.
Once your website content is finished and published, hopefully you’ve been bitten by the writer’s bug because your journey has just begun. Consistently adding content to your website via a blog is one of the most valuable, affordable and effective SEO strategies. In a future blog post, we’ll talk more specifically about writing content for your blog.