How To Build Content That Stands Out & Increases Engagement

You've got to quit being so boring.

I'm just sayin'

SEO techniques have change a lot in the last decade, and you need to make sure you're keeping up with the newest trends – or the effectiveness of your digital marketing campaign will suffer. In the past, a lot of folks targeted back-links because they were such a significant ranking factor. And even though they're still a critical component of any successful SEO strategy, you can't ignore your content marketing efforts.

Content marketing has evolved with each new Google update, but it's core essence has more or less remained the same. The idea is to produce something of value to help your visitors achieve their goals or satisfy their needs.

I've probably mentioned that a few hundred times over the course of this blog now. Nevertheless, today your content also needs to be more engaging than it was in years past, and this is partly due to social media.

The more you can engage your audience, the greater waves you'll make in social media circles. Likes, shares, comments, and other similar actions on social media platforms help to drive sales, increase activity on your pages, and generate more leads. If your content is getting stale and flat, or isn't getting the recognition you think it should, consider spicing things up with one of the following types of content.

Create Free, Ungated Content

You're reading a piece of ungated content.  You didn't have to do anything to get it. No entering an email, no joining a membership area, no paywall.  You just had to follow a link to get to it.

There's a lot of debate among marketers regarding which content should and shouldn't be gated. After all, gated content can help grow your subscriber list, increase likes and shares on your Facebook page, and encourage visitors to take other forms of action.

But here's the catch: sometimes putting content behind a gate will discourage the majority of visitors from digesting your information. Users like to take the path of least resistance, and needing to enter their email address into a form before viewing your pages may dissuade them from staying on your site. So what's the happy medium, you ask?

Simple – just make sure that the overwhelming majority of your content is not gated and has superb value. Don't overuse and abuse gated content, and exercise discretion.

Sure, save the really good stuff for your membership area, your email list, or your lead magnets - but share the good stuff with everyone.  You'll be regarded as a leader in your industry because of it.

Create Guides and How-To Content

How many times have you Googled the solution to a cryptic computer or software error? Have you ever researched a recipe to learn how to make something new? Perhaps you're a DIY nut who loves home improvement projects. At any rate, human beings are turning the Internet ever more frequently to find guides that will help them complete a variety of tasks.

In my opinion, guides are one of the easiest ways to provide your audience with nearly immediate gratification, and to quickly improve their lives. Just look at how quickly the recipe and cooking guides created by Tasty spread through social media.

Plus, if you succeed in generating quality content, you may even be selected by Google to become a featured snippet, which will give users a preview of your content directly in the SERPs.

Even though guides typically don't relate directly to increased sales, there are additional benefits to producing this type of content.  You can still use it to build your email list by offering a downloadable lead magnet or other free offer in exchange for an email address.

Retargeting is another benefit - you'll be able to directly "follow up" with guide visitors on other websites, showing them additional pieces of related content that will build your brand awareness, get them back to your site, and potentially give your site more authority.

Create List Posts

If you know what a list post is, you might be living under a rock.  You know - 7 Ways to...  or Top Ten Tips for...

List posts have dominated the Internet for years now, and for good reason. They're quick and easy to digest, simple to skim, often entertaining (though they don't necessarily need to be), easy to relate to, have great potential for going viral, and are shareable to boot.

Consider integrating current events with a list post that relates to your business.  For example, since Christmas is just around the corner, how about The Seven (Industry Things) That Would Get You on Santa's Naughty List or Five (Industry) Gifts That Will Make Her Smile

It is important to realize that list posts aren't (and won't be) your bread and butter. Rather, list posts are a simple and effective way to mix up the types of content you produce and, if done well, gain you some great links.

Create Video and Visual-Centric Content

Seeing is believing, as they say. And although most web pages include at least a couple quality images, the core value of most pages is still textual. But there are a lot of new and exciting ways to spruce up your content with visual queues.

Just think about all the GIFs, memes, and viral videos that run rampant across the Internet. Mobile devices have put high quality cameras in the hands of just about everyone. People share video content and images more than ever before.

The problem, however, is that it's no easy feat creating quality video content.

And since video is really just another way for you to share content, it's applicable to the overwhelming majority of websites.

For instance, if you run an affiliate marketing website that produces high-quality configuration and troubleshooting guides, why not capture video screencasts of the installation and configuration process instead of only listing out the steps with text?

The good news is that if you don't have to invest time and energy building quality videos, we can help.

And don't forget about webinars and other online seminars - they are a great way to boost your brand visibility, increase your perceived authority, and gain some links back to your website!

Non-Promotional Content

Drop the sales pitch already.

Users are sensitive to the amount of 'salesy' language in your content, and though you should include links to other pages (such as contact info, free consultation page, and other content links), you shouldn't spam them in every piece of content you produce. Doing so will make the purpose of your content seem less genuine, and thus, less engaging.

In fact, I challenge every one of my business owner clients to create content that doesn't mention their business.  It's not easy, especially if they're good at sales.  In fact, they cringe at the idea!

It's a good idea to frequently produce content that only serves to support your audience and provide them with value. And while it's fair to add links to your products and services, you need to make sure that the content doesn't contain marketing copy.

If you over-promote your brand, product, or service, you'll likely just end up irritating your audience, and they won't open their wallets, and they won't come back.

Your Challenge: Create Better Content

No, create awesome content.  Cheap, crummy, spammy content doesn't have a place on the modern Internet.

Instead, your content needs to serve an easily definable purpose. If you've found that your content seems a little flat and stale, use the aforementioned tips to improve the level of engagement and value that your content provides.


Will Hanke owns Saint Louis' top independent Internet Marketing firm, Red Canoe Media. In addition to helping some of St Louis' most recognizable brands with their online marketing strategy, Will also is an Amazon bestselling author, speaker and teacher.

One Comment

  1. Bob Franey December 13, 2016 at 7:33 pm

    Thanks Wil

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