You know what's probably really unhelpful for a client or business owner? Being told to write "great content." Because what does that mean? How is that actionable?
We've all been told that creating unique, awesome content is our key to visibility gold and customer loyalty. But how do we do it, consistently? Awesome content isn't going to write itself. It doesn't just happen. You have to figure it out.
This is how you write it.
Know What Your Audience is Searching for
Getting that Great Content ball rolling means first understanding what your customers are looking for both in content form and function. You don't even have to be a mind reader to find out! By using simple tools, content creators (and even content creator wannabes) can decipher exactly what customers are searching for, how often they're searching for it and the specific phrases they're using to look for the information.
Ubersugget is a great tool to help you understand what consumers are searching for. You give Ubersuggest a search term to use as a base, and it works off it, adding new keyword ideas in all directions. This can help you find related queries and learn more about the intent behind them.
For example, one of my most favorite clients is a nonprofit organization dedicated to increasing awareness of problem gambling. When the client first came to us, we knew content was going to play a significant role in our plan to increase awareness.
To help us understand what their audience was searching for around this topic, we used several tools including Ubersuggest. By entering [problem gambling] into our keyword tool, we're able to see lots of opportunities for content. Many of which have since been implemented into our content marketing strategy.
Another tool I really like for content ideas is Google Keyword Planner. While this tool is free to use, it does require having a Google AdWords account. However, you don't have to put any money in there. Just create the account.
What I like about Keyword Planner is that it bundles your terms, making it easy for even the most inexperienced content planner to see content themes. Sticking with our [problem gambling] query, you can different categories emerge:
Understanding what your audience is searching for and segmenting topics is the basis of any content strategy.
Bonus Tip: To really understand the needs of your customers, interview whoever answers your phones and support emails. They know!
Stalking Social Conversations
Hey, what's the point of your customers using the web for social conversations if you can't stalk them and use those conversations as competitive intel, right?
And like all delicious things, stalking customers on social media comes in a variety of different flavors.
There's Social Q&A stalking which happens on sites like Quora. Here, potential customers are looking for answers on a variety of different topics related to your business. You get to hear in their own words what they're struggling with, what's important, and what they're looking to accomplish.
Bonus Tip: If you're a super savvy business, you may even decide you want to hop into these conversations and be their expert.
There is Advanced Search stalking that happens on sites like Twitter, where customers are talking directly to one another, seeking out expertise.
Because these conversations are so freeform, it provides a unique opportunity to get those natural language searches and identify the topics your customers will most relate to. That last question pictured above may seem like an oddball thing to cover (because it is), but it may relate you to your audience in a fun way. Or, at least, serve as a link-friendly piece of content.
You can also talk your audience via Business Conversations that happen on LinkedIn, by identifying the skills and expertise important to a particular industry. Or via Lifestyle Information shared on Facebook to clue you into what television shows or characters your audience relates to, giving you a list of references to build content from.
When it comes to information gleaned from social media intelligence, you're bound only by your creativity.
See What's Already Ranking
Mimic a searcher and head to the search engine results to see what information already exists for your topic. Based on our social research from above we already know the types of questions our customers have. Throw them into
What content is there?
- Is what's there adequate? Would it answer your question?
- How could it be improved or added to?
- Did it "work" last time?
- What buying stages are being addressed?
What content isn't there?
- What answers do you still need?
- What holes exist?
- What keyword opportunities could you dominate?
- Why would a consumer leave that page? Where would they be going?
What format does the content take?
- Does it work?
- What formats are missing?
- How could you be different and shake things up?
With your analytics information in one hand and search in the other, you're able to match query intent with the proposed web answer. If it doesn't work, create something that does.
I don't want to get all hippy-dippy right here at the end, but you aren't going to create amazing content by staring at a computer all day and only crunching the data. You have to get out of your bubble, your box, and sometimes your own way and let the content come to you.
Get inspired. And then find ways to stay inspired whether that means becoming a content-sharing ninja and exposing yourself to lots of great stuff, or proactively boosting creativity to keep that creative fuse alight. Don't let it go dormant.
Awesome content, the type users can't help but share, doesn't happen by itself. It takes research, understanding and the creative spark to tie it all together.