With more than a billion websites across the World Wide Web, it’s not hard to understand that it’s tough to stand out among them.
That’s why the best content on the web has to be well-written, well-researched, and downright compelling to read, regardless of the subject matter being covered.
And that’s not always – or rarely is – an easy task. But breaking this daunting task into more straightforward steps makes the job much more manageable.
Creating content – not just blogs – should always start with planning. And that’s often the difference between mediocre content and excellent content.
To outline that plan, use these six steps for content-creation success and ensure what you and your brand is publishing is being found easily and digested by the right people at the right time.
Readers won’t just respect this content and the brand behind it but will seek out this content and hold the brand in high regard.
Offering something valuable (high-quality content) to the people who matter most to your business (customers) is a no-brainer and a long-term-winning strategy that pays extreme dividends.
Doing so is also the natural way to build authority through your entity (a brand, person, etc.) for readers and search engines like Google.
1. Know The Brand You’re Representing
There can never be enough emphasis on this.
Too many times, when writing on behalf of a brand or business, writers forget (or never consider) said brand’s overall voice and tone.
This is a critical component for success regarding consistency, styling, and messaging.
You want to ensure all of this is in line with general brand guidelines and its overall brand image.
Larger, well-established brands typically have guidelines that should include brand voice and tone.
But even if official brand guidelines aren’t available, there are still many ways you can better understand a brand, its voice and tone, and its general messaging with goals in mind.
Read Old Blogs By The Brand
A good starting point would be to look back and read older blog content published by the brand.
Depending on how long the brand has been creating well-developed, quality content, you could deeply understand the general style and brand voice used.
Work to recreate that with your insightful spin.
Run A Content Audit (Or A Shorter, Modified Version Of One)
When in a position to run the overarching content strategy or consistently write content for the same brand, it would likely be worth a writer or content strategist’s time to run a micro content audit.
This will help you get the best idea of not just the overall style and voice of the content but also the brand’s goals and identify what works well in terms of traffic, engagement, and performance (and what does not).
This will also help develop ideas for blog topics and identify content gaps.
Look At Competitors
Another way to better understand the brand a writer represents – and what not to be – is to look at some of the brand’s main competitors.
Competitors will likely publish their quality content, but the content produced on behalf of a competing brand like the one you represent should be unique to that brand.
That is one of the main ways brands can stand out and are supposed to. Use it to your advantage.
This is also a no-brainer when moving into a content role within a business or industry with which one may not be too familiar.
You want to understand the brand you represent and its messaging.
But it will also help to understand the brand’s main competitors, how they work to separate themselves from their competition, and ways you can surpass them in educating and enlightening potential customers.
2. Understand Your Audience
Understanding the audience you’re writing for goes hand-in-hand with knowing the brand you represent.
You can’t understand your audience without knowing the brand you’re writing for.
You can’t publish quality content without fully understanding those critical variables.
The means mentioned above to better understand both will help a brand’s overall content strategy and execution.
Remember to use topics that interest your audience and vocabulary that makes sense to your audience.
3. Finding Topics To Write About
For many, this may be one of the most challenging steps of the planning process. But it shouldn’t be.
As a writer representing a brand – a brand that is an authority on specific topics and industries – there will always be valuable insight to offer current and potential customers.
Think about Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) on many websites; they are built from topics/questions commonly asked repeatedly over time by those interested in the brand and its business. Those answers are sought out through search engines thousands of times per day.
Offering people (the right) answers to their questions will always build trust in a brand and the writers representing it.
Aside from the Frequently-Asked-Questions exercise to explore content ideas, writers should also lean on competitive analysis to develop more good topics to write about.
Some brands will do a decent job of covering many different topics within their industry. In contrast, other brands will do a better job covering only specific areas within that industry they may specialize in or have more experience in.
Use all this research to build out quality blog topics based on the abundance or lack of quality content on specific issues.
Identify competitors’ content gaps as areas to focus on, gain market share from the competition, and stand out in the areas that other brands lack.
An analysis of your brand similarly will help you identify where your brand is lacking as well.
Conducting keyword research around topics and ideas helps writers develop keyword targets but also helps shape blog posts in terms of:
- Topics covered.
- Questions to be answered.
- The essential elements of more in-depth issues have various layers and subtopics.
Over the last 10 to 15 years, many keyword-research tools have hit the market to help content strategists with topic discovery.
In addition to traditional tools like Google Keyword Planner (formerly known as the Keyword Tool), Ubersuggest, Google Analytics, and traditional Google Autocomplete, new-and-improved platforms like Semrush’s Keyword Magic Tool, Moz’s Keyword Explorer, and MarketMuse, to name a few, have also made quite the impact on the world of content.
Other proprietary tools that are higher in terms of cost but are ever-so-powerful, like Conductor and BrightEdge, offer even more content ideas and high-value keyword targets to help shape strategy, among other content marketing tools.
Make Sure It’s Interesting
Most of all – and it may sound simple, but it is all too often ignored – make sure the content you’re planning is interesting to the audience for which it is being written.
If you’re well-versed in a brand and industry and don’t personally find a blog topic interesting, helpful, or educational, chances are the audience won’t think it is.
Write about interesting topics while offering expert opinions, feedback, and insights.
The audience will reward it by trusting the brand, its content, and its messaging.
4. Do Your Research
Thorough research from credible sources is the main pillar of quality content.
Readers will look for expert opinions and analyses based on research done.
That allows writers and brands to stand out – real-life experience and a deeper explanation of sometimes complex situations.
But that research is paramount to building authoritative content that will have a long-standing impact.
As with all published content, check and double-check all facts and properly source proprietary knowledge to its original publisher.
This can be done using outbound links, in line with SEO best practices.
5. Create A Strong, Enticing Headline
Headline writing is an art, even more so in the internet age.
Now, more than ever, humans are consuming vast amounts of information from everywhere.
Headlines must be great to stand out.
Otherwise, the content will likely never be seen.
There are a variety of different approaches to take when developing a crafty and attractive headline that will grab readers’ attention.
All headlines must:
- Relate directly back to the content they represent.
- Be well-written.
- Not be too long.
6. Consider Visual Content
Rich media will always help a blog post in terms of click-through rate and the general likelihood that someone would be more enticed to click on it and learn more.
This also helps if headline writing isn’t your craft; a good visual typically attracts readers, and it’s easier for the eyes to understand and retain visuals than written words.
Know what works best for your content and your audience.
Next Steps After The Blog Post Is Prepared
Now is when the real work begins! The following are steps you will need to take to transform your idea into a successful piece of content!
- Write it!
- Optimize it all.
- Copyedit it, then copyedit it again.
- Then have someone else copyedit it for you.
- Publish it.
- Ensure the post has visible share buttons for social media and valid rich media previews.
- QA the live blog post yourself.
- Have a colleague QA the blog post.
Featured Image: puhhha/Shutterstock