Google really started something when it stated the obvious and said people did not want spam clogging up their internet experience. When it followed this up with bruising updates to its search engine that sent offending sites crashing into oblivion, it started a mad scramble for quality content.
Suddenly everyone was talking about it and the phrase ‘content is king’ became an over-used and much abused mantra in digital marketing departments everywhere. That determination to remove junk from the company’s search results has led to huge demand for content that informs, entertains or educates.
Content triumphs in the war on spam
Recent research from the Content Marketing Institute (*) found that around 70 per cent of marketers are producing more content now than they were a year ago and, as a result of this, it is three times harder than it was last year to find trained professionals capable of handling the work.
The demand is undoubtedly growing, but what are the areas people are focussing on most, the trends that will shape the form of content in the future? We have four tips for you about content marketing that you can add to your things-to-do list for 2015, together with reading more of this blog.
About text length
A typo that counts
Blogging comes first
Stand out in the crowd
Let’s take a closer look to at them…
Forget the length; just say what you have to say
One of the things people agonise over is how long or short the content should be in order to both engage people and score highly in search rankings. The answer is, perhaps maddeningly, as long as it needs to be. The ideal length for a piece of text depends entirely on what it is you have to say.
Marketing guru Seth Godin is renowned for posting blogs that take one big idea and communicate it in as few words as possible, sometimes down to just double digits. Others, like those addressing a multi-faceted topic or describing a complex process, require many more words to give the reader the information they are looking for. Both have their advantages. The key is to keep the reader engaged.
If a long text contains too much ‘puff’ or off-topic information the reader will not only disappear over the horizon but may never come back. They will be gone just as fast if a short text provides only scanty coverage of the information they are looking for.
There is evidence that longer content often does better in search rankings and is shared more often by readers, but that is only when that content is written engagingly and contains information worth reading. Anything else will just gather dust at the bottom of search result pages.
Yes, spelling is important. And get the grammar right too.
Remember that teacher who used to bang on about the importance of spelling and grammar? They may be well out of your hair by now but Bing and Google have taken their place. Both have stated publicly that bad spelling and grammar will invoke the disapproval of their search engines and lead to a site being pushed towards the back of the class. It’s all part of the quality equation that the search engines now use to ensure they deliver the best possible results to their users. Their thinking is that it does their reputation no good if they offer up sites containing mangled English in response to internet queries.
To rank high in search results sites need to do their homework and produce quality content that is painstakingly checked for spelling and grammar.
Get a blog, but not just any blog
Everyone knows that a web site needs a blog to succeed, right? It’s the first thing we’re told when we set up a site. ‘You’ve got to blog and you’ve got to do it often.’ All of this is true. Surveys show that sites which publish a blog regularly, every couple of days or more, get as much as five times more traffic than those that don’t – and they get almost double the number of leads. So the figures are there.
Even in the overloaded media torrent we live in there is still a reason to have a blog – but not just any blog. It’s got to be a blog people want to read. Something that adds value to their daily lives. Something written engagingly, something that makes them feel so good about reading they will want to share it, and something they will want to come back to next time you post.
Stand out in the crowd
The web is a busy place. Well over a billion domain names registered, around a quarter of which are thought to be active at any one time. It’s not easy to stand out in a crowd like that. Successful sites use content to set them apart from the rest, and they tailor that content to suit the particular channel it is designed for. Content designed to be read on a mouse-driven desktop, for example, needs to be presented in a completely different way to a user lounging on the sofa with a touch-friendly tablet in their hands.
Content also needs to be presented in a way that recognises the different locations each particular device is typically used in. No one wants to read a thousand word article on a smartphone, especially as they’re probably using it on a crowded train. Far more useful to that tired, home bound commuter might be location-specific content that identifies, for example, the nearest Chinese take-away.
In a crowded web the content that stands out most will understand how people use their devices, where they use them and, perhaps most importantly, the mood they are likely to be in while they are using them.