Lately, I’ve been reading articles which content writers have submitted to their clients. I have been a part of the client team for a few years and am now a part of a digital team. So the exposure to these articles are pretty recent. Clients and agencies believe that these articles are good for SEO, helping their websites’ search rankings improve.
One thing that stands out is how useless the content is. Few articles are genuinely useful and add value to their readers. Most of them are just excuses to stuff keywords for ‘better SEO’. But do they get the desired results? You know the answer.
I have listed 3 reasons why articles and copies aren’t as effective today. These reasons come from the experience of having read over 100 copies and interacting with authorities in this field. So you know that they aren’t shots in the dark.
The focus is on SEO
Maria Santos on LinkedIn says “companies are still doing [content writing] wrong because they still think the old SEO paradigm (keyword stuffing, link farming) works, when it doesn’t anymore.” Agencies barely know their client’s value proposition, which leads to keyword-driven articles instead of value-driven ones. All this despite Google having revised its algorithm and making it evident that the old SEO tricks are now obsolete.
Lack of research
Research is boring, isn’t it? And who has time for it? Especially when you have to churn out cartloads of ad copies and articles for various clients. So agency writers find it convenient to stuff keywords into copies and articles, instead of researching their client’s field and crafting something that will actually convert. Conversion can mean anything, from driving traffic to a call to action.
Zero understanding of how Social Media works
“[Companies] are focusing so much on getting ranked in Google without realizing that Google is catching on”, says Margaret McGriff. “We need to focus on telling a good story, solving our market’s problem, and then sprinkle in the technical stuff.” Read that once again. That’s how social media does (and doesn’t) work. Unfortunately, too many of us are doing what doesn’t work and still trying to game search engines instead of making our articles content rich. Problem solving articles get better engagement on social networking sites, which again are great traffic drivers, invariably improving SEO results.
The best content writers barely indulge in these activities. They focus on writing an epic copy, which is aimed at adding value to readers, garnering comments and shares. Instead of spending time on painful SEO tricks, they invest time in writing better copies. These copies receive thousands of visits, backlinks, comments and shares. All content writers aspire to be like them, isn’t it? Write copies which people appreciate, share and further establish our reputation in the online world.
Fortunately, there are steps we can take to emulate them.
In depth research
Content writers will nod vigorously when we say that research is the unsexiest thing in this field. But research, solid research, is the foundation of your copy’s success.
Use listening tools like Hootsuite and TweetDeck to listen to what conversations people are holding on social media related to your topic. Post questions and collect responses from your audience. Search the targeted keyword in Google and find which articles are the most popular ones. Try writing an article which offers your opinion on something popular related to the subject.
Use Google Trends more
This is one of the best, yet underutilized, online tools. Yes, I know, you’re using Google Trends for keyword research already. So why is it underutilized? Because there are many features which we don’t use. For instance, how many of us use the keyword comparison feature to see which keyword is more effective?
Most of us also don’t use the Forecast feature to get an idea of how the chosen keyword will perform in the near future. You don’t want to pin all your hopes on a keyword only to find out that it’s searches have dwindled over time, do you? And if a forecast isn’t available, you can take a guesstimate of how the keyword will perform over time.
Use the Right Keywords
We choose high engagement keywords all the time, right? I mean, what’s the use of targeting a keywords which don’t attract at least 100,000 searches globally? But what we are often guilty of doing is targeting high competition keywords. The flipside of this is that while searches will continue to be high, optimizing these keywords for your client/brand will take a mammoth effort.
It’s simply not worth it. In fact, we have also found websites which target less searched but are high competition keywords. Why? Maybe they thought it would get them more conversions. What a waste of money and effort! Instead, target highly searched but low and medium competition keywords. Spend some more time on your keyword search tool and you will succeed in finding them.
Establish your Brand as an Authority
People trust their money more than they trust others today. Obviously your website wants to be optimized because it wants to sell something. But why will people buy from you if they don’t trust you? This trust factor is developed only when you establish (at least some) authority in your specific field. How will you do it?
It can be done by sharing ideas with your target groups. Never mind if they’re not paying you for it. The more solutions offered to them for their problems, the more you offer them insights on aspects related to their daily lives (and work), the more they will trust you. And once people start trusting you, business will start flowing in.
Exercise the 2 Ps: Patience and Persistence
Nothing offers instant results. Well, maybe except painkillers. If you look for shortcuts, you will find one – straight out of business. So be patient and stay at it. Review your strategy once in a while. No one is in a hurry. Try something else if your current strategy isn’t working. And once you find a winning formula, stick to it. Give everything time. Too often, we miss out on the good things in life simply because we don’t hang around long enough.
The digital world is rife with incorrect and ineffective practices. With the help of well planned and calculated moves, you can leapfrog most of your competition. Churn out content which is value driven, research based and highlights your brand’s USPs. Tell a good story. Add a sprinkling of emotion. These posts are the ones which are most engaging and rewarding. Some of the best content writers are known to have given 10-12 hours of preparation time to each post. Give at least 2-3 to each of yours. The results, my dear friend, are unbelievably sweet.