Every online marketer, from fresh faced newbies, to grizzled veterans knows the same thing: content is king!
Search engines, well Google, are demanding better quality content and so are the masses. Let’s face it; the internet has been swamped with crappy content over the past few years.
It’s either been written so badly it’s barely legible, or it is so “thin” that it’s practically useless. The other issue is that it is so boring that you fall asleep before you’ve learnt what you need.
Even with the focus on adding better quality content, which is surely a good thing, everybody and his dog is now doing it. This means that any content that you write can and most likely will be swallowed up in the tidal wave of content that is being poured onto the web every single day.
The above image shows that in a survey 81% of businesses use content as a marketing strategy. That’s for brick and mortar and big business. Now consider all the independent entrepreneurs like yourself, and how much content they produce. What about the non-business minded bloggers and educational institutes?
The amount of content out there is simply staggering!
Standing Out from the Crowd
A cliché for sure, but with the mass of content out there, you really do need to stand out from the crowd these days.
Going about that is actually quite hard, and without a serious marketing budget you’re going to struggle to play in the big leagues.
However, we’re marketers and we know that the big leagues aren’t necessary to make some money online.
Still, you need to have some tricks up your sleeve in order to stand out from your peers.
Here’s my top 5 methods to make your content stand out.
#1 Useful & Helpful Content
Yes, I know, this is not a surprise to see on this list, in fact you might consider it so basic as to overlook it. That would be a mistake.
Just because the average quality of content on the internet is improving, it doesn’t mean that most of it is actually any good.
By making sure that you content is the absolute best it can possibly be, you will instantly be in a better position than 95% of your fellow niche bloggers.
Things to consider when producing your content:
- Make it long – a 500 word article simply won’t cover the basics of most topics, let alone be helpful or useful. Look to make content a minimum of 1,000 words and 3,000 – 5, 000 or more if the article warrants it.
- Cover all the angles – the idea is that your article covers every question, concern, rebuttal and objection that your reader may have. By doing so the reader will walk away informed and happy with the content you supplied.
- Link to supporting content – whether it’s your own content or someone else’s, linking to further content allows the reader to go as deep as they would like into the topic, providing value.
- Check and double check your writing – seriously, be professional in what you do and make sure that spelling and grammar errors are resolved and that the tone of the article fits your audiences’ expectations.
#2 Use Images That Mean Something
A lot of content creators fall foul of slapping in some random images when creating articles (I know I have).
Instead consider the impact of all the images you use in your content.
The featured (headline) image that visitors first see is often considered the most important, and it is, it is the image that will often draw in the visual members of your audience. It needs to be topic related but interesting. Funny is good if you can pull it off, but it can easily slip into a farce which can damage your brand/reputation.
That being said, internal images should not be overlooked either. These images should help tell the story of your article. If possible you should be able to grasp the basic idea behind the content simply by perusing the images within it. At worst the images should support the ideas in the content.
#3 More Content != More Views
That’s right, just because you push out 2 articles every day (or more!) it doesn’t necessarily correlate with increased views or action taking.
Instead consider producing less quantity, but higher quality.
If you’ve ever tried to push out an article a day as a sole entrepreneur you may know of the burn out that quickly follows! Reducing content frequency relieves that potential burn out, and in my opinion provides a better sense of accomplishment when it’s done.
Not only that, but fewer articles provides a sense of expectation from your readers – they will await your content with bated breath rather than being inundated with it.
#4 Encourage Engagement
Go beyond merely having comments on your site (though that is important!), and make your content interactive.
Web design has printed media beat hands down when it comes to interaction, but few content marketers actively make use of it.
These sliders are not your typical slideshow. Instead of showcasing multiple images, they allow a user to drag a bar that will then show the difference between two images. These are often used for things like satellite photos before and after a natural disaster, but could be used for a variety of purposes.
Check the Twenty Twenty website for an example.
Small quizzes and polls can be used to help with engagement as well. They allow you to make a point about an often misunderstood topic or allow your visitors to solidify what they have learnt from the article.
There are no doubt other uses a talented marketer can use them for as well.
Infographics are hugely popular and have been proven to increase social shares, which is great. However, they are just an image at the end of the day.
Creating an interactive infographic is a sure fire way to stand out from the crowd. These are basically animated web pages, but they go a long way to providing data in an interesting and novel way.
Of course, these don’t come cheap due to having to need a designer and developer to create them, but that’s the cost of standing out!
#5 Your First Headline Will Suck!
There’s probably a library’s worth of material on writing headlines, and with good reason.
With so much content being put in front of people on a daily basis, most people simply skim it and only read things that engage them. They do this mostly based on headlines.
Think of the recent rise in clickbait headlines, you know the sort: “15 Reasons to Read This Article… Number 6 Made Me Spit Out My Cereal!”.
Clickbait headlines have worked, and will probably continue to work so long as people rise to the bait (pun intended!).
The thing is, from a content marketer’s point of view, they suck!
The content that follows most clickbait headlines is 99% of the time poor quality, thin and useless.
Using them then is a risk that you need to weigh up carefully.
Clickbait aside, headlines are powerful things that should be regarded as the most important part of your article.
Upworthy, a site that “believe[s] that stories about important issues can and should be great stories”, has a great example of making sure your headline is quality.
Their writing guide tells writers to write 25 different headlines for each and every article! Only then will they have written one that is actually worthy to use.
As their guidelines state, this doesn’t have to be a long process, and can be done in 15 minutes or so, but can really make difference to making the article grab people’s attention without resorting to clickbait techniques.
The Bottom Line
These techniques are just a handful of possibilities to make your content stand out from the rest.
Being genuine and remembering that your audience are people too can go a long way to finding methods to improve your content and by doing so, rise above the rest.
You may not be able to use all of these techniques every time, but always consider different ways to showcase your content!