Content marketing works, if it's done right. It's a known fact that content marketers can generate more leads through blogging. But the lack of traffic can be an obvious problem for beginners, especially those in a crowded marketplace. So how do you attract attention when everyone else in your niche is trying to do the same? What can you do to stand out from the crowd?
There are lots of possible answers, but one of the strategies that you should definitely pursue is “improving your content” for a better user experience. Let's look at seven ways you can improve your content and gain more targeted traffic in the process:
- Aim your content at your customer
- Create rewards for your readers
- Work hard on that headline
- Use keywords strategically
- Infuse emotionally satisfying storytelling into your content
- Improve your writing skills
- Clean up your formatting
1. Aim your content at your customer
First and foremost, shift your mindset to make sure that every piece of content you create is made for your audience, not for yourself or your brand. A lot of beginning bloggers think they're supposed to write content that's wholly self-serving, all about their brand or blog or product. That's exactly wrong, though. However, that doesn't mean you can never tout your achievements.
It just means that you aim squarely at what your customers and prospects feel they need. To find out this crucial information, you can simply directly ask existing users. Alternatively, you can create a short online survey on your website or by using freely available online tools.
Once you have the raw data, create user personas to help you personalize your content to the individual reader. User personas should include both demographics, such as age, gender, and location, and psychographics, such as pain points and purchase motivators.
2. Create rewards for your readers
Copyblogger calls it cookie content, while Neil Patel says great, useful content is its own reward for your readers. Whatever your view, your content should be designed to immediately answer the question “What's in it for me?” from your user.
The reward should be attainable either immediately or fairly quickly. Books can be aimed at bigger challenges — things that take several weeks or months to achieve. But when it comes to blog posts and other more “snackable” content formats you should aim to provide a solution your readers can implement and see results from fairly quickly.
3. Work hard on that headline
The headline is what's going to make most people click on a link to your new content page. Whether it's shared on social or via email, that headline is most likely going to be the anchor text of whatever link brings a new reader to your blog. In its SlideShare presentation, “How to Make That One Thing Go Viral”, Upworthy suggests writing 25 headlines for every single article you’re about to publish:
Headline writing is an art in itself, so it's a good idea to work on your skills in this area. Practice, create your own headline swipe file, and learn how to write persuasive, click-worthy subject lines.
4. Use keywords strategically
Let's be clear here: when we are referring to keywords, we're not talking about just “an SEO thing”. We're talking about making your reader's experience better — helping them find the specific content that they're looking for and which will make their lives better. Keyword stuffing isn't just yesterday's news. It's actually, actively harmful to your marketing efforts.
The strategic use of the right kinds of keywords, on the other hand, helps the search engines do their jobs better. Google's sole concern is to produce a ranked list of the best, most authoritative content with the closest alignment to the searcher's actual needs and questions.
Aim at specific spots along your buyer's journey. Write content that helps prospective purchases who are just beginning to look into their options. Write other content that helps prospects who are just about ready to make a decision to buy but just need a little extra push.
You can do this by targeting either informational or commercial intent keywords in your content. Informational keywords target buyers who are at the beginning of the buyer's journey, while commercial intent keywords target those users who are ready to buy.
5. Infuse emotionally satisfying storytelling into your content
Assuming a consistent level of quality, the potential of any given piece of content to go viral depends on specific emotional triggers.
Specifically, research has shown that viral content tends to evoke strong emotions more than weak ones, so-called positive emotions over negative ones, and an element of surprise, when possible; in other words, the unexpected will stay “sticky” in a reader's mind more than the predictable. People don't act on the basis of facts and statistics. They're motivated by emotional stories that touch their hearts, inspire them, motivate them, excite them, and thrill them.
Data and statistics can help support your points and give the final “push” over the edge that a reluctant prospect might need, but they first must be motivated emotionally. The best way to do that is to bring stories to your content. Good content storytelling can be as simple as a short testimonial or as complex as a detailed case study.
As long as it shows your readers what's possible in your niche and topic, and evokes some kind of positive emotional response in them, your content will improve and so will your traffic over time.
6. Improve your writing skills
Part of making your content better is improving your writing skills. That includes the basics, such as perfecting your grammar, proofreading and catching all those misspellings and typographical errors.
But it also includes things like improving your vocabulary, so that you can be sure of using just the right word to convey your ideas. It also means stripping your writing of unnecessary words to make your writing cleaner, crisper, and more direct.
The free-to-use Hemingway app is a web-based tool that helps you simplify and streamline your writing for better readability and “flow”, both of which will help create improved user experiences for your readers. This also can result in much more traffic on the long run.
Another resource that can help you improve your writing skills is the book Strunk & White's Elements of Style, which is one of the best-known and most trusted style guides in English. It's easy to use, and non-intimidating, even for insecure writers.
7. Clean up your formatting
Formatting is a content marketer's best friend, helping you break up longer pieces of content with the judicious use of callout quotes, click-to-tweet boxes, bulleted and numbered lists, bold and italics. The use of clean formatting is of great importance when creating high-quality content.
Additionally, pay attention to and vary the length of both sentences and paragraphs. Any chunk of text that's about the same size as the ones before and after creates a pattern that bores the reader. Fortunately, WordPress makes it easy to format and layout content in a visually appealing way.
HubSpot suggests several other ways to format your content for a better reader experience, including keeping your URLs short, increasing your font size, and including tall images in your content. Not all of these ideas will be right for every piece of content you create, but it's worth considering adding them to your toolbox for possible future use.
Conclusion: Improve your content to get more traffic
Which of these strategies are you planning to implement in your content marketing plan? Share your thoughts and any questions you might have about these or other content improvement strategies in the comments section below. We would love to read your thoughts!