Imagine you run an online marketing company. Initially, you write only the best marketing content and ads for your clients. You write these ads so well that you quickly start to become the best in the industry. It also helps with your growth that there aren’t that many content marketing firms to contend with. But hey, you still do a really great job with your writing, regardless of the lack of stiff competition. You become so successful that others want in.
Content marketing companies suddenly start springing up everywhere to jump in on all this money and success. Some of these companies are good, some are bad, but most are just average and concerned with creating the most marketing content for the least amount of money. Because the market is new, everyone is making decent money. You’re still making the most, but your profits are definitely decreasing. To keep your old income levels up, you decide you have to get out more content and spend less time creating it than you were in the past. You hire more writers, for cheap, and pump out more content, hoping to hold your top position in the industry.
Now imagine you’re a consumer, looking around online for a new vacuum cleaner. Every single vacuum company has a very similar, sort of bland and basic generic marketing content that basically says the same thing. Some of the content is downright bad, has many grammatical errors, and was clearly written by someone who doesn’t care about you or you buying that vacuum. You have no idea which company to go with based on their content marketing attempts (although your list of companies to NOT go with is growing), so you just go with whatever vacuum is on sale the next time you’re at Target. If the company had valued quality over keeping up with the volume of competitors, you just might have noticed their article.
The Importance of Quality Control
Quality control for your online content is as important as quality control at a large pharmaceutical company. If you run a website, are a blogger or copywriter, or in any way control what type of writing gets put on a website, and you currently don’t do any sort of quality control, you’re gambling with disaster. No one will get injured like they would from a faulty drug, but you will be hurting your chances of gaining customers or followers left and right.
If you’re looking to genuinely grow your social media presence, quality control is a must. Consumers can smell junk from a mile away, and your junk content won’t go unnoticed. There will also be no neutrality in this war between the good content providers and the bad content providers. You need to provide them continually with content that’s worth their time to read and adds value to their lives.
These days, content marketing is exploding in use and popularity. It has many strengths and benefits, and has no known natural predators. In fact, the biggest threat to content marketing is content marketing itself. As people are scrambling to fill their blogs, websites and social media pages with content from ear to ear, it’s just inevitable that quality will drop and good content will become harder to find.
You’ll have to do more than slap a label on it to convince a reader of quality
Unfortunately, as quality drops, people’s standards will go up and they will get defensive as they search for the content that’s worth reading and weed out the rest. While a few years ago, just pretty good content would be noticed and enjoyed by the audience of a website, these days, the content has to be amazing for it to get any attention. This can be obtained through quality control. Follow the steps below.
Make Yourself Easy to Find
Make sure you utilize SEO techniques. You don’t have to go as far as making every other word a keyword, but rather just placing keywords strategically in your titles, headers, and first paragraph. Link your content to other content when appropriate. Join message boards and forums that are in niche areas related to your content and get to posting. Put a link to your website in your profile signature, and every single time you post on the forum or message board, you’ll be providing a link to everyone without even trying.
The reasons for including keywords are twofold. One, you want to drive traffic to your site and get your article read. Two, keywords are created by demand. By including keywords, you are increasing the quality of the post because keywords reflect what readers want. This can help you choose topics, answer questions preemptively, and frame your post in the language the readers can identify with.
If SEO is a mystery to you, here’s a really helpful resource for you: Google Webmaster Tools has a fantastic PDF titled, “Search Engine Optimization Starter Guide” that has tips, tricks, information, and best practices for how you can use SEO in legitimate ways to boost the popularity, search-ability, and credibility of your website and website content.
Also don’t miss out on some exclusive tips from one of the best SEO companies around, straight from the New York office head: http://blog.ebyline.com/2013/08/interview-with-john-doherty-distilled-ny-director-seo-for-startups/.
Don’t make your visitors feel like this…
Make your content something that people will not only want to read, but something that they will be hooked into reading. Grab your reader’s attention by using a style of writing that is authoritative, informative, but casual and conversational. Sound like an expert on what you’re talking about, but also like a really down-to-earth expert.
People are looking for content that is both entertaining and informative. The web isn’t school. You aren’t forced to sit in classes, or on certain websites when trying to learn something. If your website and content is awful, people will drop out and go somewhere else faster than you can say, “What’s quality control?”
Use tricks that increase readability such as breaking down longer paragraphs into a few smaller ones and using images to break up the text. Make sure they’re relevant, or people will just be confused about why you’re trying to sell them a vacuum cleaner.
The best blog posts cater to readers short on time. It is important to have two layers of content. The first layer is contained in the title, subheaders, and images. Use these elements to tell a shortened version of your story. A reader should be able to quickly skim the title and picture elements and be better informed to make a decision to read on. The second layer has to reinforce within the reader a belief that the choice to read on was indeed a wise one, and they haven’t wasted their time or fallen victim to link-baiting.
How many times a day do you think, “Oh man, I have to Google that!” How many of those Google searches begin with “How do I -” or “What is -” or “Why does -”? If you’re anything like me, the internet is your mecca of answers. It’s also the mecca of unhelpful answers. For every informative website on a topic, there are dozens of ridiculous websites that don’t answer my question.
To put your content at the top, be informative in specific ways. If you’re writing an article about Twitter, don’t just say that your characters are limited. Give the exact number of characters you’re allowed to use. It’s 140 characters, by the way. Teach something new to your readers, or teach them something old and classic but in a new and exciting way. Don’t be that boring professor who crawled through his lectures. Be that killer guy with the PhD who knew everything and exactly how to convey it to you in a way that just made you have to listen.
Engage Your Audience
People like attention and getting to speak their minds. A huge part of what makes the internet the internet is that people can interact with other people and businesses like never before. If you make your content engaging, people will be far more likely to get involved and stay involved.
Start discussions. End all of your content with a call for comments. Let people know that their opinions matter and you want their feedback. Also, think about this: if you ask for feedback and everyone tells you your article was the worst thing they’ve ever read, you just got some free marketing advice that you need to change your approach and content creation tactics.
If you sell products, allow for ratings and rankings of these products. Allowing ratings actually helps your content when it comes to Google search ranking, too!
Make Something Worth Sharing
Sharing makes us feel good. So does ice cream.
I share an article with 600 Facebook friends, 20 of them share with each of their 500 friends, each of those gets shared by another 15 people to an additional 30,000 people. It happens all the time with content that’s worth sharing, and is an excellent way to get unintentionally endorsed by hundreds and thousands of people who know other people who will value their opinion.
While writing great content is the best thing you can do to ensure your content gets shared, there are other little tips and tricks that you can do to increase sharing. Use a catchy title. This will make people HAVE to click on the article to see what it’s all about. You shouldn’t be deceiving, just tease the audience without giving the whole article away.
People like quotes. If you have a few sentences in your content that are quote-worthy, your chances of being shared increases. Put together a few choice phrases and bold them in your content to draw attention to how good they are. But make sure the rest of the content is good as well, or you’re kind of pulling another title trap, but in a slightly different way.
If you do all of the above steps of quality control for your marketing content, you will be able to hold your ground and stay at the top of the content marketing game. Instead of focusing on getting out the most content, regardless of what it contains, go back to focusing on providing really good, solid, informative and sharable content. Sure, it may take you a few hours versus a few minutes to write, but think about it: Would you want 1,000 people to see your content and 999 of them roll their eyes and that other one is your mother who loves anything you do? Or, would you want 1,000 people to see your content, 600 of them share your content because it’s so good, 300 of them start following your blog or Twitter account, 50 of them immediately buy your product or service? As for that other 50, well, you can’t win them all. With quality control you can at least make sure you don’t lose them all.
The last part of quality control is reviewing what you’ve done and assessing your mistakes. Do you have any feedback or comments?