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The case for compelling content

May 18, 2012

Content is king. That must be one of the oldest cliches around in online marketing. How about another? Build it and they will come.

Sounds simple in theory (and in swooshy agency presentations) but it is in fact one of the hardest things to do as a small online business. When I first joined The Data Octopus they were doing what many small businesses do, outsourcing their blog writing just for the sake of getting keyword stuffed content out there.

The penguin and panda extinction fightback

Some of that content worked to get the brand up there in the SERPS but it was a fairly pointless exercise. It might get people into the site, sure, they may even explore a little once they get there, but the majority will bounce out as soon as they see it’s not the useful information they were searching for.  It’s not a compelling enough reason for them to stay and not authoratitive enough to make them trust your brand.

It’s also becoming less and less effective as Google releases more updates like Penguin and Panda. These changes to their already advanced algorithm are trying to make the internet a better place by penalising content and links for content and links sake. What is more interesting than the technical updates however is the increase in the human element of Google policing. It’s much harder to fool a human than a machine as many SEO experts are discovering to their black-hat peril.

Content by numbers, the secret to creating compelling content

So low-quality content is useless for your potential customers and increasingly redundant for your organic search results. But what is the secret to creating compelling content? I’m afraid there isn’t one. It takes time, effort and a lot of people to get it right. You need to consider who will do the following:

  • Research: If your content is not well researched it’s just opinion and opinions are like arseholes (everybody has one), yours may actually be particularly compelling, but it takes quite a wordsmith to make it stand-out without research.
  • Writing: Strip back all the decoration and read the words on the page, are they worth reading? Can you get to the end of the article without nodding off? It’s a myth that anybody can write content for the web, it’s a skill that requires refinement and practice.
  • Design: People are impatient online and you need to deliver content to them in bite-size chunks, the look and feel of your website will contribute as much to the confidence factor of your article as the words.
  • Optimisation: You shouldn’t create content purely for SEO but you should certainly consider it. This requires research into trending keywords and Google-friendly pages.
  • Analysis: There is no point just throwing content out there and seeing what sticks no matter how compelling you think it is, you need to see what is keeping people on your website and what is getting people to call you.
  • Sales: Do you have the people on hand to answer the call once somebody is convinced by your content? Not everybody wants to complete their journey online and you need to be able to take advantage of the opportunities you are creating.

If you want to do compelling content correctly you need somebody (perhaps more) dedicated to each of these tasks and this is why it’s so difficult for a small business to get right when they are starting out.

Why you shouldn’t outsource content

So if it requires more people than you have you should just outsource it to an agency right? Wrong. This is the trap many small businesses fall into.  They can produce the content but it will never contain the insight of somebody working within your business who knows it inside out. It’s that insight that makes it compelling.

The Data Octopus recognised this and expanded it’s team to get the right people doing the right jobs. They now produce worthwhile blogs on a daily basis and send out a monthly newsletter crammed full of all their latest research and insight.  They share the wealth of their knowledge because it builds trust and generates leads. On a regular basis a call will start out with “I just read your blog on…” or “Your newsletter arrived at just the right time…”. That’s the ultimate return on investment and the reason why you should never take shortcuts with your content.

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