Well campers, its been a crazy 2012 thus far. Between Panda and Penguin, we've seen some serious changes in the SERPs. One of the many things that SEOs have to think about doing differently in the aftermath of these updates is content creation. Content for a post-Penguin world has to fulfill the following requirements:
- It must be unique
- It must be high-quality
- There must be enough of it to distinguish the page from other pages on-site
- It must encourage links and shares
That last one is a biggie. In the wake of Penguin, thousands of low-quality links have been completely devalued. Your deep, unique, high-quality content is the best tool you have to build links back to your site - and the way to do that is to make it as linkable and shareable as possible.
People don't naturally share and link to things like product descriptions. Instead the most shareable content is content that solves a problem, makes people laugh, or makes them think about something in a new way. Something that resonates with them.
Now this all sounds great, and some products and services naturally lend themselves well to quality shareable content. If you sell hair products, for example, you can do how-to hairstyle posts and spring fashion posts and celebrity hairstyle posts all the time and still have more to say. That's a lot harder for a product like, say, drywall screws or enterprise-level accounting software. Here are my tips for coming up with quality content ideas no matter what your product:
- Think of a Bunch of Problems Your Products Can Solve. I don't mean they need some accounting software. Think of the applications of your product. Create content to address those problems. Examples include Hidden Ways Your Operations Cost Money or The Home Kitchen Remodel: 6 Safety Hazards.
- Do Some Old-School Persona Building. So you know your main customer base consists of women, age 35-64. Or you know they're people with a title of Manager or higher at companies of at least 250 people. But who are they? Do some old-fashioned demographic research and build some personae, like Moms Interested in DIY Home Improvement Projects or Business Analyst Tasked with Improving Efficiency. Build content with them in mind.
- Put Yourself in the Customers Shoes. What other sites (besides your competitors) might your customer be visiting when she's trying to solve the problem your products are going to solve for her? Is she shopping for cabinets? Is she researching statistical models? This is your opportunity to start your funnel before the user even hits your site. You can start to build relationships with site owners who are in your niche, but not your competitors. Now, you've got some content sharing and guest posting opportunities. Not only are you building links back to your site, you're building links that your actual customers might click on, come to your site and then buy something!
- Mine Your Competitors Backlinks. You're probably already doing this regularly to find new link targets. You can also look at your competitors links to find out a.) what content of theirs is getting links and shares and b.) where those links and shares are coming from. Creating similar content for similar audiences could yield similar results.
- Mine Your Analytics. Looking at the organic search queries driving traffic to your site. What questions are people already trying to answer when they come to your site? Increasingly people are actually asking search engines full-sentence questions when they need those questions answered. Even if Will heavy-duty screws support my kitchen cabinets only drove 2 visits last month, its still a clear signal that there's an informational need to be filled.
- Think Beyond Your Current Customers. There are people beyond your customer base who would be interested in linking to and sharing interesting content in your niche. Statistics junkies may not be in the market for a new suite of enterprise-level tools, but they might love to see some new models you've come up with.
- Easy on the Sales Talk. People don't want a sales pitch unless they're way far down in the funnel. Make your content too much about your products, and you're narrowing the potential audience for that content. Make your content too much of a sales pitch, and people wont want to share it with their friends. Focus on the customer and on the industry.
- Use Your Industry Expertise. You know all about your products. You may even have a ton of data on how people use them. Mash that data up in new and exciting ways. Point out industry trends as you observe them. Everything you can do to say when you need to know about (insert product), come here means that when people do need to know about it, they already have you top of mind. Branding!
- Outsource. Not everyone can do this, but if its within your means consider paying for some freelance or contract work for content creation. Not everyone is a writer, and a well-written piece from someone who knows their way around shareable content has a better chance of gaining some traction. Whether you're outsourcing the occasional infographic to marketing firm, using services like Elance to find freelance help, or hiring a full-time copywriter, having help out can make a big difference in your contents shareability.
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