Content. You know you need it, you know it’s vital to your SEO efforts, and you know it’s the single best way to attract and keep an audience of engaged customers.
“But how am I supposed to create fresh, compelling content when I have so much to do?” you might ask. “I am completely out of ideas — and besides, my company isn’t exactly interesting.”
No one ever said creating quality content was easy. But even if you feel like you don’t have a creative bone in your body, and that anything you could possibly write about your company would be a prime selection for the insomniac’s book club, it’s possible to develop blog posts, infographics, videos, and social media posts that resonate with your target audience and drive traffic. We’ll let you in on a little secret: You don’t need to reinvent the wheel. You don’t have to turn yourself inside out trying to find the one topic or idea that hasn’t been covered to death already. You don’t even have to be a recognized expert in your field to create quality content.
What you need is a good source (or 10) for topics to inspire you — and you’ve come to the right place. Check out these smart ways to create killer content that will rock your SEO and keep your audience coming back for more.
1. Go to the Source
Even if you have a defined customer persona and plenty of market research, asking your audience what they want guarantees your content is on the right track. Use a free survey tool to gauge interest and ask for ideas, request feedback in the comments, or even institute a regular Q&A feature where you answer customer questions directly. Try getting your sales team involved: Ask them which questions customers and prospects ask the most, and then tailor your content to fill the gaps.
Becoming a thought leader in your industry requires sharing a unique perspective on the issues and news that affect your business — and that’s easier to do than you might imagine. Look for opportunities where you can share insight. For example, if you sell sporting goods, share your thoughts on news stories involving athletes, explain rule changes, or offer ideas for improving performance. A simplified explanation of a complex topic, tips and tricks, and even predictions establish you (and your brand) as an expert worth listening to. Even if others have already offered their take, don’t be afraid to share your thoughts as well. Your audience wants to know what you think — even if it’s just so they can disagree with you.
And when they voice their disagreement in the comments, they provide even more content fodder. That one person who consistently dismisses your ideas or points out flaws in your thinking could inspire a new post. Look for themes in the questions or comments as well; for example, if you write “The 10 Best Brands to Follow on Pinterest,” use the reader comments about points you missed for a follow-up, “10 More Great Brands to Follow on Pinterest.”
3. Write Reviews
As an entrepreneur, you’re most likely on a continuous quest for the best books, apps, resources, and services to help you grow your business. Why not share your finds with your audience? A short review (around 500 words) allows you to share key points, benefits, and weaknesses — and your recommendation. In a real time crunch? Shoot a quick video review instead — you can even share videos on major retail sites like Amazon to attract an even wider audience.
4. Develop Case Studies
When things go very right — or horribly wrong — for a company, others want to know how they did it. Write case studies offering your expert insight into what others are doing right, or analysis of what they are doing wrong and how they can improve. One caveat: Badmouthing other enterprises, especially the competition, reflects poorly on you. When analyzing a failure or mistake, be sure to focus on the facts and present your analysis as constructive criticism.
5. Share Related Topics
When your audience doesn’t have a reason to act on or share your content, there’s a good chance it will hang around gathering cyber-dust. One solution is to create content that has practical value to your audience — content that spurs them to do something, whether share with their friends or seek more information from you.
When your content aligns with your audience’s values and gives them information they can use, or shows them how to do something with little time, effort, or money, they will generally feel more compelled to share. When you’re creating content, consider your company’s core values, how customers use your products and services, and develop related content.
Another way you can employ this strategy is to develop simple how-tos for using your products or field guides and troubleshooting tips related to a trending topic (e.g., “ways to beat the heat during a heat wave” or “things to do indoors when it’s raining”).
6. Hire Guest Bloggers
“But guest blogging is dead!” you might be saying, cringing at the mere thought of outsourcing your content. While Google’s Matt Cutts’ now-legendary blog post rang the death-bell for guest posting strictly for SEO, getting others to create your content is still a legitimate form of content creation. After all, a post from a thought leader in your industry or from a blogger with a substantial following can drive a fair amount of traffic to your site. The key is to post only well-written, relevant guest posts.
7. Post Interviews
Video is one of the fastest-growing content trends, but you may be struggling to find the right video content. Interviews are easy and effective: A two- to three-minute clip of an industry leader sharing his or her thoughts on a particular topic can draw a substantial audience, especially if the interviewee is someone your audience wouldn’t otherwise meet or have access to.
If a video interview isn’t possible, a traditional written interview can also do the trick. Run a series like those in popular magazines: Develop a standard list of five, 10, or 20 questions to ask every subject, and publish their answers verbatim. Readers will look forward to seeing the different answers and gaining some insight from thought leaders. Another approach is to post a roundup: Ask the same question of five to 10 thought leaders and share their responses. It’s quick and easy, and your audience will appreciate the diverse perspectives.
8. Share Others’ Content
Just because you’re posting content doesn’t mean it has to be content created by you. We’re not advocating plagiarism by any means. Rather, we’re suggesting you turn to content created by others for inspiration or as a launching point for your own content. Some of the ways you can do this include:
- Content curation. Collect the best content on your topic and share links to it with insight as to why you’re sharing. Don’t forget to curate your own content as well; a weekend wrap-up post of the week’s most resonant content or updates of older posts give your existing content a second life.
- Post user-generated content. As Carolyn Baumgarten noted on Mashable, “Campaigns created with crowdsourced content are novel. They’re a departure from traditional brand-generated marketing efforts, meaning that sometimes even the campaign for submissions in itself can result in a lot of buzz for your brand.” Case in point? Last year, Doritos challenged fans to create their own Super Bowl ads for other users to vote on, and the winning ads were shown during the game. The campaign encouraged engagement and generated a great deal of positive press for Doritos.
- Share and comment. Have you found a piece of viral content that speaks to you? Share it with your own analysis or commentary.
- Call on your brand evangelists. The most successful brands have evangelists, people who talk about your brand with others because they honestly believe in it. Look to them as a source of content inspiration. Has someone written a blog post or shared a video related to your brand? Post it!
9. Use SlideShare
Moz’s Rand Fishkin recommends SlideShare as part of any content marketing strategy. SlideShare is a platform that allows individuals to upload and share slide presentations; you can share your internal presentations as well as presentations you make at events, or even create presentations specifically for the site. In terms of SEO value, SlideShare provides great bang for the buck, as presentations often appear high among search results thanks to SlideShare’s automatic transcription of the slide text. Add the download link and sharing URLs at the beginning and end of the presentation, and ask people to share. Don’t forget to embed your presentation on your blog as well for even more exposure and SEO value.
10. Use Online Tools
Sometimes, you just have no idea what to say. Don’t fear: The content well hasn’t run dry. You just need a little boost. Gain some perspective by using one of the many tools at your fingertips that will give you more content ideas than you could ever possibly write. Try using some of these tools:
- Trending topics. Google Trends will tell you which topics people are interested in; try exploring topics in-depth or setting up alerts for terms related to your industry. Facebook, Twitter, Yahoo, and sites like whatstrending.com also provide insight into what your audience is interested in right now.
- Title/topic generators. There are a number of online tools that can provide you with ideas for blog posts, ranging from the prosaic to the downright strange. Most simply require typing in your keywords, which will generate potential post ideas. Put your own twist on the results to make your content relevant to your business and audience.
- Google. Want a simple way to figure out what people are searching for? Go to Google and type in just the first part of a keyword phrase and see what Google suggests as a search term. You might just find content gold.
Finding ideas for good content doesn’t have to keep you awake at night. With so many sources of ideas and inspiration, the bigger problem should be distilling the great ideas from the mediocre ones.
Need help connecting to your audience with a solid content strategy?
If you’re still unsure what content will resonate with your target audience, Digital Current can help! Our team has over a decade of experience developing integrated online marketing campaigns that reach the right audiences with the right content.