Small businesses have historically been slow to adopt the content marketing strategies that corporate marketers use. But as SEO has evolved significantly in recent years, it has become clear that small businesses need to include how-tos, e-books, comparison guides, and other content marketing techniques to remain competitive in the rankings.
Whether the content is created in-house or outsourced to an agency, there will be a time when creative ideas for interesting new content become scarce. Here are seven tips for creating outstanding content.
1. Create a Content Marketing Calendar
Having a calendar that documents a content strategy is a great way to ensure timely content creation, but this strategy is too often overlooked. Sixty-one percent of marketers say that their biggest difficulty with content creation is that it takes too much time, but only 44 percent are reported to have a documented content marketing strategy.
Putting together a calendar of content scheduled for the month is a great first step that provides a set amount of time to strategize, brainstorm, create, and publish.
2. Find Out What Works
Before researching other sites for inspiration, understand the characteristics of past content that has worked. Dive into Google Analytics and Webmaster Tools to check the top-trafficked pages and search queries to see what content has performed the best and the keywords people have used to find it.
Social statistics can also provide insight into content that has performed well. Check social media performance by utilizing services like AddThis that embed sharing buttons on blogs with tracking information. There are easy-to-use dashboards that provide information on the number of shares, and clickbacks from those shares.
Understanding these trends will help better inform what topics and strategies have worked in the past and where to head with future content.
3. Understand Social Trends for Newsjacking
Social media is also helpful in providing ideas for topics in real-time. Writing content around trending topics, or newsjacking, help provide valuable content to people actively looking for it. Twitter has had trending topics available for a while, and Facebook introduced trending topics earlier this year. For a more local view of trending topics, Trendsmap provides an intimate view of trending news overlaid on a map with data from Twitter.
Enhance content by addressing different sides to a story, taking a controversial stance, or supplementing it with different media like videos or infographics.
4. Create a Survey
Create news with a simple survey. Understanding the consumer stance on a topic in an industry provides material for articles and infographics. This will likely result in backlinks to the content and builds reputation as a primary source of data in a field.
Creating and conducting surveys have become much easier with products like SurveyMonkey Audience and Google Consumer Surveys that allow the creation of surveys and purchase of responses at an affordable price-point.
5. Utilize Visual Content
While much of SEO focuses on text that search engines can digest, visual content is much more appealing for human readers. Audiences are naturally wired to be more engaged with visual content, as 90 percent of the information that comes to the brain is visual, and content that utilizes imagery gets 94 percent more views than those without.
A survey of marketers from MarketingSherpa found that images were the easiest form of content to produce. Create infographics with the research that's already being done for content, or outsource creation to include on a blog. Keep visitors engaged and scrolling by adding still images or animated GIFs to written content.
6. Start a Video Blog
Another easy way to create consistently high-quality content is to create videos. Seventy-eight percent of people say they watch online video every week, and 55 percent say they watch every day.
Starting a video blog isn't expensive or time-consuming. Short videos are the easiest to digest, and simple to shoot with a personal webcam.
Video blogs require minimal editing, if at all, and can be posted immediately to YouTube. A study by Animoto found that video content helps persuade 73 percent of consumers to buy a product or service.
7. Repurpose Content
If finding a topic and doing the research for it is too time-consuming, create a bundle of content you have already created around a certain topic. Gather content with an underlying theme, like "Website Design Tips," and package it with a supplemental blog post. This creates a valuable package of materials for readers to digest.
Another way of repurposing content is to revisit an older piece of content and providing updates. New information is constantly being studied and evaluated, which can be easily reported as an update to an earlier post.
Content marketing is now a required component of SEO. And it works by engaging new and existing audiences, and encouraging sharing. For small businesses, it is difficult to stay on course, though, and ideas are tough to generate on a consistent basis. Understanding the content strategies that have worked in the past and diversifying the media by which they are created are helpful tactics for staying on course with the consistent creation of content.