Everyone knows that some things are temporary in life.
Paychecks only last until we spend them.
That mug of coffee? Sadly, you must say adios eventually.
Even social media content is fleeting. Snapchat deletes after 24 hours. Blog posts only stay up as long as the domain name is valid.
Other things, however, are here to stay. With all the work you put into quality content, you hope it stays relevant and doesn’t disappear like the Falcons’ hope of winning the Super Bowl.
So what steps do you need to take to make sure it remains an important and trusted solution for your audience?
No One Wants to Be Average
There is so much information available to content marketers about how we can write better, write faster and write to engage.
So often, the issue isn’t learning how to write; it’s about knowing how to write content that lasts.
There is enough so-so content out there to last a lifetime. You don’t want to be just another name on a Google search – you want to be awesome, authoritative and a strong voice in the content world.
That means the focus needs to be on writing content that’s here today, and still here tomorrow. Not passed-by content.
Superior content, not cliché. Amazing, rather than average.
Evergreen versus Topical Content
There are two types of content we can focus on:
Both types of content are useful, but for different reach purposes.
In order to maximize the potential reach, we need a balance of both kinds of content. Focusing too much on evergreen content means your audience will never get a taste for new fads or relevant language, while spending all your time on topical issues offers your readers only trending content.
Long-Form versus Short-Form Content
Finding a balance between evergreen and seasonal content is not our only challenge; the next decision we have to make is between short-form and long-form content.
Is it better to focus on 500-word or 2,000 words posts? There are valid arguments on both sides, both of which take into account statistics and average engagement time of readers.
The truth is that if your content is worth their time, the audience will invest itself in it for longer amounts of time. In addition, long-form content increases your online visibility, social shares and increases your authority as an expert in your field.
How to Write Content That’s Here Today and Not Gone Tomorrow
Contrary to what you may hear, long-form content can be both awesome and valuable. This is especially true when the content is relevant, the keywords are chosen with care, and the overall presentation is eye-catching.
Here are five ways to write content that’s here today and not quickly forgotten tomorrow.
1. Focus on Both Quantity and Quality
There is no doubt our attention spans are shorter than ever before, thanks to ever-changing technology in a world of instant gratification. Logic would tell us that short-form content is the way to go.
While that may be true in some cases, research would beg to differ that short-form is always the best approach in reaching your readers.
Backlinko recently analyzed one million Google searches and found that longer content tended to rank higher in search results. The average first page result contained 1,890 words.
Graphic from Backlinko
This could be due to several factors, including more social shares, Google search result preferences, or a boost to topical relevancy with longer content.
Remember when the mantra content marketers lived by was, “Content is quality, not quantity”?
That was then, this is now: the longer a piece of content, the greater it’s chance of getting backlinks. Long articles can increase the amount of social media shares. And writing longer pieces of content increases search engine visibility. (Source)
While adequate research and authoritative sources are still important factors in content creation, quality seems to be just as important as quantity if we want to reach the largest audience.
Why is this?
2. Up the Value with Custom Imagery
Long-form content can start to become, well – long. Too long. We always run the risk of losing our audience if we aren’t intentional in breaking up words and paragraphs with visuals.
Going beyond the typical approach to make your content visuals pop increases engagement versus the non-custom visual posts you can create. It can make all the difference between here-today, gone-tomorrow content.
Check out these facts about visual content:
Great visuals can come from graphs pulled from expert industry sources, screenshots of your own, and stock photos that relate to your message. The source is not quite as important as the connection to your words.
While you search for or design your own quality images, remember that visual content can be optimized for SEO. Choose relevant file names for your images, scale the image to the best size, and add captions when it’s appropriate.
3. Remember: User First, Keyword Second
We hear it all the time: write for the reader. But too often that does not translate to actual content creation, and if we want to grab the readers’ attention and keep them coming back, it has to be reader first, then keywords.
Content creators have long heard of the importance of using relevant keywords; the challenge comes when we begin to think about how to go one step beyond that to branded keywords.
How do we start to write quality content around branded keywords? Neil Patel helps us out with this over here.
While we are on the subject, keyword-stuffing is so five years ago, so don’t do it. This can actually hurt your SEO and your readers, as your content will appear forced and unnatural. The goal here is to put the reader first; read more about that in our EW post on writing content for SEO.
4. Track Data and User Engagement
Why track user data and engagement trends? Simply put, all of the ‘likes,’ retweets, comments, and page visits are an indication of how your audience is interacting with your content.
The more you know about their habits, the better you can tailor your content to their needs.
No one wants to create content that gets glances, but no clicks. We want people to take action, tell their friends about what we have, and come back for more.
There are differences to keep in mind here. Here are some examples (Content Marketing Institute):
Track conversions over reach: The audience ‘reach’ means little, is easily manipulated, and doesn’t always equal conversion (think clickbait).
Instead of looking at the number of site visitors, you can track conversions based on the response to your call-to-action and get a view of what the audience is actually doing in response to your message.
Track scroll depth over time spent: Time spent is also not always an indication of engagement and the definition itself is vague. Google Analytics measures time spent on a page based on the level of engagement of the last page.
Don’t confuse time spent with relevant engagement. When you measure scroll depth, you get a view of how often your visitors are getting to the end of your content.
Track comments over shares: Research has shown that little correlation lies between the content we read and the content we share. While it’s a good thing to know how much and what parts of our content are being passed around, it is probably not as helpful to depend on share stats to measure content success.
Tracking comments, however, allows you to get a glimpse into what your audience has to say not only about your content, but in response to other readers, as well.
5. Break it Up
Content must be scannable in order to attract attention. Breaking up content might even take the form of splitting your topic into a series of long-form posts, rather than just one single post (keep ‘em coming back for more, right?).
Breaking up your content allows your readers the chance to absorb a variety of images, videos, and GIFs mixed in with that awesome content.
There are some easy ways to do this, even when you are thinking of long-form content creation:
-Keep ideas at one per paragraph, and don’t go over four sentences.
-Use bulleted lists. Why?
-Practice writing engaging titles, headers, and subheads. Which would you rather read?
How to Write a Paper
3 Ways to Write with Focus and Get a Homerun “A”
-Direct readers back to your own content with internal links, which keeps readers engaged with your authoritative content. External links are an easy way to show you’ve done your homework (just make sure they are relevant and from reliable sources).
-Try an inverted pyramid style for paragraph structure. Basically, you state your conclusion first, then support it with the rest of the content.
Don’t Be Average – Be Awesome
No one wants to be average – if we’re being honest, we all have the desire to be awesome. The last thing you want after researching, carefully crafting content, and putting it all together is for no one to read what you’ve presented. With the right tools and the right focus, your content can be both here today and still relevant tomorrow.
As you are thinking about content, try focusing on long-form content, amazing images, and making the user a priority. You may be amazed at the difference in the increased engagement and conversions from your readers.
Julia McCoy is a bestselling author of So You Think You Can Write, podcaster and an expert content marketer. She’s also the founder and CEO of Express Writers, a leading online content creation agency, with more than 60 content writers and strategists. Julia leads her team to serve hundreds of worldwide businesses with the highest-quality content for their online presence. Follow Julia’s blog.
The post Your Guide to Creating Online Content That Sticks Around (Here Today and Not Gone Tomorrow) appeared first on SiteProNews.