The web revolves around content. A lot of content. According to Internet Live Stats, there are currently around 200 million active websites. That’s not individual pages, but actual unique websites that can contain millions of pages of their own.
Standing out from the crowd is a lot more difficult than it used to be, but not impossible. Using the information below, you can start creating better content that is more easily discoverable by search engine users and more easily shareable on the social web.
As the web grows even more in 2016, these five rules will help you create great content and stand out better than ever before.
The problem with most content is that it has an expiration date. Yes, just like your milk and eggs content can go bad. It won’t start clumping up or develop a disgusting smell, but it will become worthless to readers after a certain amount of time.
Sometimes you can’t avoid this. For instance, I would never suggest to a car dealer that writing about the current model year is pointless because the manufacturer is just going to create a new one the next year. No, I’d tell them they need to consistently be creating new content or updating existing content to reflect or keep up with changes.
Your ultimate goal, however, should be to focus as much of your time on content that does not become irrelevant after a certain time. Evergreen content allows you to grow traffic more consistently because this content doesn’t lose traction as quickly as date-dependent content.
When done correctly, evergreen content can work wonders for your overall organic traffic numbers. By targeting popular topics, you’ll find it’s often like discovering oil on your property. Once you’ve finished the work, you can sit back and let the traffic flow in like checks from the oil company.
Be Socially Shareable
If you’re new to online content and digital marketing, the term “shareable” might throw you for a loop at first. But the concept is simple: shareable content invokes action from users. This is the type of stuff your mom used to forward you via email but now shares via Facebook to all of her friends and family.
How does it invoke action from users?
Shareable content can usually be described as funny, uplifting, sad, and/or informative. When you discover this content, it makes you think about other people and how they’d like it. Most of the time you also enjoy the content, but a lot of shares are for specific friends or groups of friends.
For example, I’ve made it public to my Facebook friends that I love my cat. Because this has become so tied to my Facebook profile, friends regularly share content about cats with me. Whether it’s a funny video about cats vs. dogs or an informative article about how cats actually hate us all, it’s clear people associate me with that type of content.
How do I create shareable content?
Do you want to make people laugh, inspire them, make them cry, or inform them? Answering this question is the first step. The next step is asking yourself if people care enough about this topic to share with their friends. You can make some niche content work, but the topic should be something most people can connect with.
Content should always be helpful in some way, shape, or form. Even if your content isn’t answering questions, it can still be helpful. Even an article with embedded videos of people scaring cats can be thought of as helpful if you’re looking to laugh during a quick break at work.
Regardless of what your content is about, you need to ask yourself: will someone find this helpful?
Am I making them laugh? Am I informing them of an important development within their industry? Am I helping them accomplish something?
The more you think about ways your content can help people, the most success you’ll have.
Be Specific with Intent
Content, especially content created for SEO, needs to have a specific intent. Just as search users present intent with their queries, you need to craft your content to match that intent.
The days of ranking content because you mentioned certain keywords are over. In order to rank well today, you need to have all of your ducks in a row. Keywords do still matter, but the intent of your content is even more important because Google is able to better crawl and rank content based on more contextual factors than ever before.
This means that if someone is looking for “iPhone 6S tips and tricks,” you’re providing them with exactly that. This content would describe things the iPhone 6S can do that aren’t completely obvious or mentioned in the phone’s manual. This content would be completely different from what you’d provide for “how to use iPhone 6S.”
Going deeper with intent, if I search “buy a TV,” Google provides results that match my intent. I’m not looking for information on TVs, I want to buy now.
On the other hand, if I search “buying a TV,” Google provides results for TV buying guides and other informative content.
(Mentioned in previous articles, this is an example of transactional vs. informational keywords.)
When reviewing content, you can keep yourself on the straight and narrow path by asking yourself: what is the intent of my target keywords and does my content match that intent? It’s that easy.
Unless your content is designed to help someone complete a simple task, one of your big goals should be to spark conversation.
But why is this important?
You want people to take action on your content! Whether that means they spend extra time on your site writing a comment, send it to a friend and have a private IM conversation about it, post it on Facebook, or write a reply and link to it on their own site.
I’ve found that if you can consistently write content that stands out, you’ll attract more overall action around your content. All of these actions not only help your site’s natural readership and social readership, but also affect SEO as well.
So the next time you sit down for a brainstorming session, start thinking of ideas that will get people talking!
While it’s tough to create content that follows all five of these rules, your goal should ultimately be to nail at least three of them. If you’re struggling to create great content, bookmark this page and read it before each writing session. I’ve found that simply reminding myself of these rules helps inspire me to write better and better content each day.