I can remember, not too long ago, being asked to write content on a huge range of themes from surgical supplies to stairlifts, from gemmology to car hire and being constantly shocked, when reviewing existing material online, at the ridiculously poor quality that was out there. Stuffed full of keywords to ‘fool’ the search engines and written without any real attention to the human audience, it seemed that the trick was to get your page in front of a reader and they would be in no doubt that your product or service was perfect for their needs and immediately make a buying decision.
There even were hundreds of courses and mountains of online advice from ‘experts’ exposing this dark art, in the name of search engine marketing and on site SEO, or claiming to be able to get you ranked at the top of page one on Google by providing you with pages of drivel and charging you fortunes for the privilege.
Of course, since Google launched Panda and updated its algorithms, it isn’t so easy to trick the search engine with machine like, keyword loaded text and I truly believe what works now is exactly the same as what worked for any written content before the bots invaded the internet – it has to be entertaining, informative and add some value to the readers world.
What’s the trick to creating great content? Frankly there isn’t one. From my perspective it is really down to quite a lot of hard work starting when I was very young. First I learned to read great content – I consumed books by the truck load (there was no internet then!) and had a really broad range of favourite subjects. OK, then I went through the education system and learned to write and most importantly to research. Then I had to work for a living and spent 20 years in sales, marketing and business development – writing contracts and proposals and standing in front of clients and pitching. This wasn’t for educational purposes, I might add – my bonuses were on the line!
So much content is written without a detailed knowledge of the subject matter and that becomes blatantly obvious to any reader worth their salt that no real research has been done. And by research I don’t just mean Wikipedia – I mean get your knees dirty. Sit next to the poor salesman who has to pitch a product everyday and understands features/ benefits/ SWOT/ handling objections/closing arguments and learn what works and what doesn’t. If you don’t work this hard at research then how do you expect your content to convince someone to enquire or even buy your product or service.
My final observation is quite straightforward really – when I have produced content that doesn’t make the grade it goes in the bin. Be very wary of publishing content just to keep the volumes up – crappy content will sit forever next to any good work you have done and that my friend can never be a good thing!
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