Try not to become a person of success. Rather a person of value.
There is so much truth in that statement made by Albert Einstein. When you create content, don’t do it for the quantity. Focus on the quality of what you offer to your readers. Here is a must-have guide for creating valuable content. One that is appreciated, talked about, and hopefully, even shared by your target audience and readers.
Focus on Originality and Thoughtfulness
Everybody knows how much Google values original content. It rewards the truth sayers and punishes the liars who rehash existing content and present it to readers.
You need to write with a purpose. Put your content through a duck test, if you will. Does it sound, look or act like a duck? Then it is a duck.
The point is, if your readers have already read your content before, then your content is not valuable to them anymore. If you want to offer valuable content, serve up something fresh, something original.
Write First, Research Later
One of the best ways to maintain originality is to write first. Get all your ideas, opinions and knowledge down on paper or document first. If you were to research first, then you may risk bias on your own views and statements, inadvertently.
Next step is to research and find relevant links that back your statements. Linking to sources will give your content the credibility it deserves. Plus, the additional information adds value to your readers.
Do you know why Seth Godin is so popular? Why does he have so many followers? Just take a quick look at his website. His blogs posts are brief and to the point, every time. There are no unnecessary videos or pictures or exhaustive content that encourage reader fatigue. Besides, whatever he publishes, he provides value.
Add Relevant Media
Hubspot reports content with relevant images gets 94% more views than content without.
Do you need an infographic to chart statistics from your content? Would a podcast enhance your content? Adding relevant media to your content gives the readers a break from all the text. It enhances the existing content, avoids reader fatigue and makes your content more valuable.
Irrelevant media, at the same time, devalues your content. Reflect on these questions:
- Do you really need that image there?
- Would a video summarize what you talked about in the content?
- Are you trying to distract the reader with an image from badly written content?
Your Audience is More Than Just Demographics
Before you create content, experts say you need to know your audience. Sure, you may already know your target audience is female between the ages of mid-twenties to mid-thirties. But do all the females in this age group want the same things?
What does your audience want from you? Jeffrey Rohrs talks about audience groups in his book “Audience”:
- Seekers – Audience looking for information
- Joiners – Audience already subscribed to you
- Sharers – Audience looking for valuable content to share
- Buyers – Audience you want to sell your products or services to
Find their questions on Quora and create content that answers your audience’s questions.
Share Real Life Examples
Readers want more than hypothetical examples. When you want to share an exciting new way of doing things or a new perspective, make sure that you pepper your content with relevant examples. Take a look at the point above. Didn’t this Quora snapshot make it easier to understand the point I was trying to make there? Sharing relevant examples makes your content valuable to the reader.
Use Short and Punchy Titles
So you’ve put your blood, sweat, and guts into this new piece of content. Without a short headline that packs a punch, that content is not going to be of value for anybody. Sorry.
Why short? Because long titles tags will only get cut at search engine listings. You may risk losing your organic readership. Why punchy? Forget about adding value, without the allure of a catchy title, readers won’t be pulled into reading your content even.
Consider using tools that help you write better headlines. Co-schedule’s Headline Analyzer is a free online tool that scores the titles you punch in. The scores range from 0-100, 100 being the highest. If you get a title that has 70+ score, then you can assume it is a good title. This tool gives you reasons and highlights areas that need improvement.
You can also verify the titles on the EMV tool by Advance Marketing Institute. This is to check how emotionally connected your readers will be to your headlines. You can use a combination of this tools and come up with a great headline that is short and packs a punch!
Page Layout for Easy Readability
The 80/20 rule applies here. While 80 percent readers will read your title, only 20 percent will read your content. So paying close attention to your page layout can reel in those readers and reduce your bounce rates.
Blocks of texts can put people off. Check if you have short paragraphs, bullet points and the right headings that make up an ideal page layout. It is good SEO practice to break your text into sizable paragraphs.
Remember the sequence of titles H1, H2, H3. This way, readers can scan through the whole content. An ideal page layout will encourage readers who scan to stop and read the parts most relatable to them. When readers find what they were looking for, your content becomes valuable to them.
Proofread Before Posting
You may be very passionate about what you just wrote down. You may even be overly enthusiastic to post your freshly written content. But don’t let that excitement get in the way of publishing quality content. You might just regret it…. forever. Buzzfeed lists hilarious reasons why proofreading is important. Here’s one:
Entertain your Readers
Wouldn’t you like to read something funny in the middle of a work day? Using humour in your content goes a long way. Take a cue from Buzzfeed. Their posts on Restore Your Faith in Humanity are so easily shared articles on social media.
Why are they loved by the audience? Because it is positive, it has images, it stimulates the readers and it even makes those who share the post look good!
Create content that makes your shares look good. Entertain your readers so they can share and entertain their friends and loved ones too. You can do that by:
Decide Your Posting Frequency … and stick to it
There is no point in posting lackluster article every day. Low-quality content adds no value to your readers.
Neil Patel asks you to consider these questions before optimizing the number of posts per week for your blog:
- What are your content marketing goals?
- How many posts have you already published?
- Which are the major sources of traffic to your blog?
- What is your writing speed?
Avoid the dangers of inconsistent blogging. Being consistent in posting goes a long way to build credibility for your brand.
Clear and Accessible Tone
One of the best reasons why people choose to read your content over others is easy readability. The layout of your page can be the most ideal one. But if you go ahead and use too many difficult-to-pronounce words or scientific terms, it may put off some readers.
You need to be clear in what you want to say in your content.
- Long sentences can confuse readers.
- Using easy alternatives to common phrases gives your content an accessible tone.
You also need to be mindful of your voice and tone of the content.
So how do you assess the tone of your content? Thankfully there is a tool now for almost everything you need.
You can use the Hemingway Editor online tool or application to gauge your content’s sentence structure. This tool highlights hard to read sentences, suggests alternatives and points out use of passive voice, adverbs. It even gives you a score based on your content’s readability.
Follow Good SEO Practices
Even if you did manage to craft your content with a great title, sub-headings and visuals, you still need SEO to get it seen by people. Avoid bad SEO practices like keyword stuffing or formatting too many underlines, bold text etc. Not only is it annoying for the reader, but Google penalizes such content too.
On the flipside, following good SEO practices rewards your content. Not only is it appreciated by search engines, but using the right title sequence, ideal page layout and media all culminate to provide valuable content to your readers.
Engage the Reader
When you engage the reader you involve the audience into more than just reading.
One of the best ways to engage your reader is to invite feedback or comments. If you notice that you don’t get enough comments or no comments at all, then don’t worry. Quick Sprout produced a top notch article on why no one comments on your post and what to do about it.
With an appropriate call to action (CTA) your reader signs up for your readership. HubSpot lists out 30+ creative CTA that are simply irresistible.
Now that you’ve successfully incorporated CTA and invited feedback, it is time to listen. You could send out an email to get answers to a particular question. You can reply to comments with an appropriate response.
For example, if you want to write up a blog about anger management, send out a question to your subscribers. You will be surprised at the response. You can then mould your next blog post using the input.
Your readers will see the kind of efforts you put into engaging them and appreciate it. When you answer your readers’ questions, you engage them and build trust. This one of the best ways to give value to your content.
When you have a website that is ad-free, it gives a lot of reading room for your audience. Readers are put off easily with too many ads interrupting the content. Consider scheduling a period every few weeks to go ad-free and see how the page views increase. The more content your audience consumes, it is a reflection of how much they value your offering.
You can even get creative on where you place your ads. Consider Businessinsider for instance. They have placed all their advertisements in the panel outside the reading space.
It is no wonder that more people opt for ad blockers these days.
Update Old Content
Imagine the horror of landing on old and dated blog post. Your bounce rates inflate in no time. Your personality shines through your blog, right? Then it is essential to keep old blog posts updated with new and valid content to add value to the reader.
When you visit old posts, you visit it with fresh eyes. You are able to identify the typographical errors easily. Visiting old posts gives you the opportunity to update any images or media as well. Sometimes, the video you embedded within your old blog post is no longer available. While you update your content, you can update your media too. Keep all information relevant to your audience.
About 70% of our traffic each month comes from posts that weren’t published that month. -HubSpot
Diversify Content with Video
What Seth Godin does with this blog is one thing. Your post with relevant images encourages readers to read further or share your post.
Videos are a whole new ballgame, though. Have you considered delving into podcasts? The Podcasting statistics this year are fascinating. This medium has grown by over 23 percent between 2015-2016.
Do you have content that can be converted into a video or a podcast? Do it. Let your readers consume your content in the media forms of their choice.
Don’t hesitate to ask for help. You may not have the time or the skill. So you can hire experts to work on graphics, proofread or even craft high-quality blog posts for you.
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