Managing Director of Grow, Alasdair Inglis, shares his top tips for making sure your online content gets read.
A recent study on internet trends published by KPCB estimated that by 2015, 8 zettabytes of content will be created and shared every day on the internet. To put that in perspective, 1 zettabyte= 8 trillion gigabytes. To put that another way, if you put that information onto floppy disks, the disks would cover every inch of the Earthâs surface 1,600 times over.
[CREDIT: IronRodArt - Royce Bair ("Star Shooter")
So how can you make sure that what you have to say gets heard above the racket?
Here are 10 of the biggest mistakes small businesses make when creating their own content, and how you can avoid them.
1. You Donât Write Unique, Useful Content
Too many small businesses completely misunderstand the point of their blog, and end up sticking a bunch of posts up that are little more than drawn out sales-pitches.
We live in a world that is saturated by advertisements, and as a result weâve all become pretty immune to them.
Your blog should provide readers with something valuable. If your company manufactures/sells fishing rods, youâd better make sure that your content provides fishing enthusiasts with information that they appreciate and want to read about, ie: âThe Top 6 Fishing Destinations In The Worldâ or âOur Favourite Fishing Rods Released in 2013â.
However, as well as providing useful content for your target audience, itâs also important that the content you provide is unique.
Make sure that the content you produce gives readers something new, a different perspective or content they simply canât find elsewhere.
2. You Donât Know Your Audience
A recent survey showed that, contrary to popular opinion, middle-aged women share the most online content out of everyone.
However, by looking at the most popular social publishing sites you probably wouldnât have guessed this due to the huge amount of youth-orientated content on popular sites like Buzzfeed and Upworthy.
Weâre not suggesting that you tailor your content to appeal to middle aged women in a bid to increase shares (unless your target audience really is middle-aged women), but do be sure to do a little research into who reads and shares your content.
By doing this, youâll have a better idea of who youâre writing for, and what content theyâll appreciate the most.
3. You Donât Embolden Important Points
Emboldening important points is an easy and effective way to make your content easily digestible.This means that your readers can quickly scan your article for the most important and relevant points. That said, donât over-do it as too much bold is the same as no bold text at all.
Your readers are coming to your website to be informed,make sure that you get your point across as quickly and efficiently as possible.
4. You Donât Have That Human Touch
Whilst it is important to make sure that your writing is concise, focused and to-the-point, itâs also important that your readers get a good sense of your personality too. People become attached to certain sites and writers due to the connection they feel with the writers, and this is an important part of getting your readers to share your content and keep coming back for more.
The way a story is told, and the character of the narrator, can be a great selling point for your content.
5. You Donât Use Guest Bloggers
Using guest bloggers is a great, low-effort way to make sure that your content gets read.
Firstly, and most importantly, a guest blogger is going to be able to introduce your blog to their whole readership. This gives you the opportunity to win over some of their readers too, which in turn will result in a wider reach and more shares for your own content.
Your guest blogger is also going to widely share their guest-written content, which again will provide your site with a wider reach.
6. You Donât Use Links
When writing good content thatâs going to get shared and read, itâs essential that you include internet links, both outbound (going to other websites) and inbound (going to your own website).
When you link to other websites, it not only shows that you have thoroughly researched your subject and really know your stuff, but it should also point your readers in the direction of other resources and blogs that theyâll enjoy. You should also use inbound links to your other interesting and relevant content. This will make it easier for your readers to find more content that theyâll enjoy and keep them on your website.
7. You Donât Use Numbered List Points
Websites, like Buzzfeed, that are constantly shared know that creating numbered blogs and headlines is a great way to get your content read and shared.
Creating a numbered list of points ensures that the blog remains focused and allows readers to know exactly what theyâre in for.
It also shows readers who are looking for a solution that the content will be specifically geared towards their problem.
As well as this, the structure of a numbered list inherently lends itself towards being scan-friendly, which means that your content can be speed-read.
Perhaps most importantly, it immediately shows potential readers that there will be a range of solutions for their problem.
8. You Donât Produce Content Regularly Enough
Google loves regularly updated sites which are brimming with new, up-to-date content. This means that by regularly posting on your blog, you can improve your search engine rankings.
As well as this, someone doesnât become an authority in their field overnight. It takes tenacity to keep posting new and interesting articles, but this tenacity is rewarded with your brand becoming more and more reputable.
Itâs also important to remember that your content has an expiry date! Itâs important to regularly post new content, to show readers that what you do is always up to date and therefore relevant.
9. You Donât Use Different Media
Variety is the spice of life. You should try to introduce new elements to your content, such as video blogs, infographics and info-products.
Everyone learns in different ways, so by introducing more visual media to your content, you can attract a whole new audience who prefer visual information.
There are other advantages too, as some information lends itself towards video seminars or picture guides.
10. You Donât Use Keyword Research
Make sure you know what the most searched terms are for what youâre writing about and make sure that they are in your headline.
If your target audience is searching for âBest ways to improve email marketingâ, make sure that your blog post will show up on their search.
You can also use keyword research tools to find out what questions your audience are asking and what theyâre searching for. This means that you can tailor your content to suit your readers and attract new readers too.
If you want to learn more about how to market your business more effectively, come along to Grow's monthly Online marketing masterclass in the Centre. You can also apply for a free Ask an Expert session with Alasdair.
Alasdair Inglis on behalf of Business & IP Centre
Follow Alasdair on Twitter
Have a look at www.wearegrow.com