Once you’ve defined your target audience, found great topic ideas, and created a content strategy plan, the next thing to do is start creating the content. What you will want to keep in mind is that you don’t want to create just any content – you want to create quality content that will achieve goals you have set whether they are for engagement, traffic, or conversions. In today’s post, we will look at the elements needed for four popular types of content to make them successful.
Elements of Successful Blog Content
Since most content development plans for business’s include a blog, let’s take a look at the important elements of a successful blog post.
- The Title – If anything can make or break your blog post’s success, it’s the title. The title of your post is the first impression for people who subscribe via RSS, follow you on Twitter, or simply see shares from those they follow. You may only think of the title in terms of SEO keyword value, but remember that a successful post is shared and linked to often which boosts its value in search. Hence, make your title something people would want to click on – you can still include a keyword phrase, but make that a secondary priority. One great (and free) downloadable resource is 102 Headline Formulas. If nothing else, it will give you somewhere to start.
- Design – Next on the list of importance is the overall formatting of your blog. You may want to get someone who is savvy on current design trends to take a look at your blog and make sure it meets today’s design standards. Even if your content is published today, if your blog looks out of date, then people may assume that your content is as well and bypass it altogether.
- Formatting – A lot of people don’t read blog posts. They scan them. Help scanners by having great formatting elements within your post including headers to break up the main section, bullet points for the main points, bolded text for key ideas, and overall good typography for easy reading.
- Images – If possible, ensure that every blog post has at least one image. Images are great for SEO as it gives your post a chance to rank well in regular search as well as image search. Plus it helps enhance social shares of your with the addition of a thumbnail.
- Quality Content – You can’t expect quality content if you are hiring someone who doesn’t natively speak your language to write content for you at $5 an article unless you just like editing and rewriting. To get quality content, you need to pool your internal resources, invite industry experts to contribute, or pay for top-notch writers (at top-notch fees). There’s no way around it, and your content is not something you want to go budget on. It needs to be written for a human audience, unique, and preferably a minimum of 500 words.
- A Call to Action – If your goal is to get new leads to your opt-in form, then make sure your opt-in form is on the footer of your posts or at least the sidebar. If your goal is to drive traffic to product pages, make sure to include a link to a relevant product in your content when applicable (or a link to a free trial which is even better). If your goal is traffic, encourage your audience to share your content via social media. If your goal is engagement, encourage your readers to leave a comment. Whatever you want visitors to do, be sure to tell them to do it in the post.
- Search Optimization – Notice this comes after all of the above mentioned elements. When you write content for your blog, you shouldn’t have search optimization as a first and only priority. Once the content is created, then you can focus on things like perfecting your SEO title and meta description. While some people like to neglect the meta description because it doesn’t carry weight in rankings, it is extremely important because it shows up beneath your post title in search results and generally shows up when people share your link on social media.
- Social Sharing Buttons – Help your audience promote your content by making sure your blog has social sharing buttons above or below the post content and that they are fully functional. If you have social sharing buttons, review them to make sure you don’t have a defunct social network still included. The fewer the options, the better. Twitter, Facebook, Google+, LinkedIn, and Pinterest are best.
Elements of Successful Social Media Content
The next most important content your business will create is for social media. Here are some network specific tips to help ensure your message reaches and is well received by your intended audience.
- Update at Different Times – If you’re just targeting a local audience, this might not be an issue. If you have a worldwide audience however, one status update isn’t going to reach everyone due to varying time zones. Since you don’t want to tweet the exact same thing two or three times, create a few wording options for your tweets and spread them out across two or three different time zones at top times for each to reach as many people as possible.
- Don’t Forget Keywords – Twitter search is becoming more and more important. If you want your tweets to be found by people searching for a particular keyword phrase, make sure to include it in your tweet. This is especially important if you are going to use Twitter Advertising options such as Promoted Tweets.
- Include a Hashtag – You don’t want to include too many hashtags, but one or two can help get your tweet spread out to an even larger audience beyond your followers. Just make sure your hashtags are absolutely relevant and you aren’t just using them to jump on a trending topic.
- Ask Questions – Tweets don’t have to be broadcasts. Get interactive with your audience by posting occasional questions. Replies and mentions help boost your Klout (if you care about that sort of thing).
- Answer Questions – Having trouble coming up with good tweet ideas? Just use the following in the Twitter search box: keyword ? -filter:links. This should help you find questions from people interested in your industry. Just give some easy answers – it boosts your engagement level on Twitter and may even lead to new clients.
- Use a Variety of Update Types – You have a few different options when it comes to Facebook status updates: text only, links, photos, and videos. Be sure to try to create variety in your Facebook content by publishing different types of updates. Photos do the best – simply upload a photo, then enter a description plus a link. See more about engagement vs. types of updates in this study.
- Encourage Engagement – Your status updates should often include calls to action such as “Like this update if ____” and “Tell us ____.” This will get more people to like and comment on your updates, thus boosting overall engagement on your page. The more people interact with your updates, the more people will see them.
- Ask Questions – Speaking of encouraging engagement, asking questions is a great way to boost interaction. They don’t have to be strictly about your industry – if a major holiday is coming up, you could just ask what people’s plans are for the three day weekend or similar.
- Add Content Through Custom Tabs – With Facebook, you aren’t just limited to updates on your wall. You can have up to 10 custom content tabs that include updates from other social networks, blog content, videos, welcome pages, and much more. Check out services like North Social, Involver, Pagemodo, and InlineVision to see the types of custom content you can create for your page.
- Don’t Forget Content for Your Personal Profile – If you have a public personal profile or have lots of subscribers, don’t forget to create status updates that can promote your business to those people. An easy way to get your subscribers to notice your business – post status updates linking to your latest blog post!
- Don’t Forget Keywords – While Google says they won’t be giving preferential treatment to updates from their own network in search results, they still do. So don’t forget to include keyword phrases in your updates that might get picked up in search to help combine your social + search marketing strategy.
- Start Tagging – Don’t go crazy with it, but if you are talking about another person, brand, or business in your updates, be sure to tag them so they can get in the discussion. This is especially helpful if you mentioned others in a blog post and are sharing that blog post on Google+.
- Include Hashtags – Did you know Google+ is using hashtags now? You can see the most popular ones in the Trending on Google+ section of your Google+ home page. Try searching for some that relate to your industry using the search bar and then include them in your updates. Just like with Twitter, you shouldn’t go too crazy with them.
- Use Photos – Images draw attention to your status updates and also helps them display well in the mobile Google+ app, so don’t forget to include some in your status updates.
- Try Google+ Hangouts – Interact with your audience and create great video content by holding Google+ Hangouts and recording them for future reference. You can do live shows about the latest industry news, interviews with experts, Q&A, and more.
Elements of Successful Infographic Content
Since infographics are still all the rage, here are some tips on creating successful infographic content.
- Create Your Infographic Content with Your Targeted Audience in Mind – This is true of any type of content, but especially so with infographics because they can be so widely spread. While you can create infographics about any and all random topics just for links, the ones that will bring you conversions are the ones that are designed to be shared on sites who have an audience that could be potential customers.
- Get Facts & Sources Straight – Infographics are great for link building, but one of the reasons they may get discounted in the future is because of poor fact checking according to Matt Cutts. If you are including any numbers in your infographic, you need to back them up with reliable resources. Often times, quoting another blog is not good enough unless that blog is an authority in your industry. If you can’t verify a source, it’s best not to include it.
- Invest in a Good Design – While there are good free tools like Visual.ly and Infogr.am which you can use to get started with infographics, you may want to invest in a good designer if you want your infographic to reach viral fame. Infographics are meant to be visually beautiful – poor design generally equals lower shares and links.
- Include Your Name in the Footer – Since an infographic may be shared on a website that neglects to link back to yours, you should always make sure your business name is on the infographic prominently. If you can fit in your website, that is even better. That way people who really enjoy it will be able to get to its source regardless of whether it is linked or not.
- Use Good Image SEO – Don’t just upload your infographic with the filename infographic.png or something equally as bland. Image SEO is especially important for infographics – be sure they have a strong filename that includes your business name and keywords if possible. Also include your business name and keywords in the ALT tag for the image on your website as well.
Elements of Successful Video Content
Last but not least is video content. Video marketing is huge right now and it’s a great way to get in front of an audience that isn’t too keen on reading blog posts or following businesses intently on social media. Not to mention that Google loves videos on YouTube and YouTube comes with a built in audience of millions of visitors per month.
- Include Key Information – Some people create videos and leave out important bits of information because they assume people will be viewing them on their website or on their YouTube channel. But remember that videos can be embedded on other websites where no one may know about your business. So include a little introduction about yourself and your business – make sure that no matter where the video is played, people will know who created it and exactly what it is about.
- Keep Viewer Attention Span in Mind – While you might want to create a long and elaborate video, remember that video viewer’s attention spans are generally short. Tubemogul noted that 53% left a video after one minute. Take it from TV – advertisement videos should be about 30 seconds and definitely no more than one minute. Demos and tutorials can probably go longer if you know your audience is ready to sit back and learn.
- Use Quality Equipment – People can easily see when a video is made with quality equipment vs. a shaky handheld mobile device. You don’t have to buy a Hollywood-style camera, but definitely look into something that records HD and can be stabilized with a tripod. Audio quality is important as well – test your camera to make sure it picks up audio well and if not, consider getting a microphone or dubbing over the video later. For screen recordings, invest in good software for crisp recordings without interference and a microphone that will pick up clean audio.
- Add Calls to Action – Near the end of the video, you will want to give viewers a call to action like visiting your website or calling to schedule a demo. This will need to be something that works no matter where the video is viewed – saying “click on the link below the video” only works if the video can’t be embedded and played anywhere else.
- Use Good Video SEO – As with all types of content, remember your SEO. Include your business name and keywords in the filename of the video (it doesn’t help with all video networks, but it sometimes helps, especially when on your website). For videos uploaded to YouTube or other video networks, include good keywords in the video title, description, and tags. Also include a link if you can in the description – for networks like YouTube, make sure you can see the description and the link without having to click on the Show more dropdown. Also try networks like Vimeo that offer a lengthy description area for text and links.
There you have it – elements of successful blog, social media, infographic, and video content. You can also apply many of these tips with other types of content including whitepapers, eBooks, slide presentations and more!
Photo Credit: Beck Tench