Publishing new content on your website is the easiest way to keep your website fresh so that it gets noticed by search engines. This is a long-term strategy for effective positioning and profitability. There are four main concerns that business owners have about committing to a content creation program:-
- What will I write or talk about?
- Why should I bother?
- When am I going to find time to create content?
- What format should I use, and how do I present it?
Let’s look at each of these in turn.
What will I write or talk about?
No matter how ordinary you think it is, your business has some unique aspects about it that your ideal prospects don’t know about. When you start talking about the basics, your prospects (and even your clients) will often say, “I never realised that!” and you’ll get more business.
You may be surprised at how often it happens until you think of your own response to your friends in other industries when they refer in passing to something that you find fascinating. Their attitude may be, “everyone knows that,” but for you it is completely new.
It’s like the beer company that started talking about its process for cleaning out the machinery and bottles and brewing the beer in its advertisements. They knew that every brewery used the same process, but consumers did not. Within a year of launching the campaign (designed by the great direct response copywriter David Ogilvy), they were the most prominent brewery in the US and their market share dwarfed every other brewery.
Whether you are an accountant, a financial planner, an electrician, or any other business your particular perspective on your industry, and your solutions for your clients’ problems is fresh and interesting. Just talk about what is on your mind, answer the questions your clients ask you, talk about the most recent problems you solved (without trespassing on privacy and confidentiality) and comment on marketplace trends and you will have no difficulty finding things to say.
Why should I bother to create fresh content for my website?
I believe that your website should generate revenue for your business, rather than being an expense. That means that it needs to attract traffic, and convert that traffic into leads and sales. You can pay to send traffic to your website, and that makes sense eventually, but it doesn’t make any sense until you know that your website will actually convert that traffic into customers. After all, if I pay $1.00 to get a visitor to my website and they go away without leaving their contact details or buying anything that is $1.00 wasted. However, if I already know that two out of three visitors will become buyers then it makes sense to pay for traffic.
Fresh content that shares your opinions and thoughts, and solves people’s problems attracts more organic (unpaid) search traffic because you rate for more keywords as long as it is properly tagged and set up on your website. It also gives you something to share on social media, enabling you to broadcast your business and ideas more widely.
If your content is also valuable, then it will build up momentum over time and reach new people. Some of my oldest posts are the ones that attract most visitors to my website. However, you aren’t just trying to get traffic … you want clients!
Let me ask you … would you want to visit an accountant or health professional about whom you knew nothing? Maybe you really don’t care, you just want to go to the cheapest person, or the first name you see. Then it won’t matter. BUT, if you have a big decision to make, and want someone you trust, then you want to know more than just their name and business hours. Their blogs will give you that extra information about who they are, and how they view the world, and that extra insight makes all the difference.
If you think about the kind of clients you really want to work with, they are probably not the people who picked you on price. Your ideal clients are going to have a high lifetime customer value, so you want people who are making a thoughtful, well-researched decision.
Regular, fresh content makes your business more searchable, and it also increases your authority and credibility which makes your clients trust you more.
When am I going to find time to create content?
This is a great question! Many people start off with discipline, enthusiasm and great intentions and then it gets pushed aside (I’ve been guilty of this, myself) by other matters. The truth is, you won’t make time to create valuable content if you don’t believe it is important for your business.
We don’t ‘find’ time for anything – we ‘make’ time for writing blogs or making videos or recording podcasts because we believe it is mission critical. The question is really: Do you believe being a thought-leader and establishing your position is that important, or not? Based on my own observations, (and the comments of people who have access to more extensive data than I do) the next 12- to 18-months will be critical for websites. Either you build them now and fill them with thought-leadership and expertise, or you’ll be catching the back of the wave, and you’ll spend the next 10 to 15 years catching up.
Too many people agonise over design, structure, SEO and other topics (all important issues, but not the only important things) and forget about expressing their ideas. A modern website isn’t just an online brochure, it should be far more than that!
If you believe content creation is truly important for your business, you’ll make time – or you’ll have one of your employees do it as a priority activity, or you’ll hire an outside person to do it for you. If you hire an outside person to create content for you, make sure they know what they are doing! Many businesses hire cheap, overseas freelancers to write their content and it shows! Even if the writing is decent the thoughts are banal – and that doesn’t do anything for your positioning in the marketplace. If it’s not important enough for you to invest your own time in doing it, or your money in getting it done properly, you will also end up catching the back of the wave.
I read some shocking websites and blogs that are totally incomprehensible or sheer plagiarism and I wouldn’t go near those businesses if I could help it. If you really need a short cut to content creation then look at the next point and think about the content creation strategy I outline there.
What format should I use, and how do I present it?
Your three main options are written, audio, or video content.
Video gets a lot of engagement from viewers (autoplay videos have proved especially effective), but many people are intimidated by the idea, or don’t like appearing on camera. I get that, but video is still probably the most effective way of attracting your ideal clients, because they already know you a little by the time the contact you. Your videos don’t have to be professionally produced in a studio … Phone and tablet videos can be very effective. I’m not saying they’re the same quality as studio-produced videos, but with a little care you can get great sound and decent lighting and communicate your message. With a little bit of preparation you could easily film nine or ten short videos in an hour.
Audio content also gives a chance for your personality to come across. You can communicate more shades of meaning through voice inflection than through the written work, so it’s easier to make sure your audience hears what you really mean. Most people speak faster than they write, so it’s quite quick to create even if it doesn’t have quite the intimacy of video. However, audio content (podcasts for example) are highly portable and you can listen while you are driving or doing dishes, which is tricky to do with video or reading.
Written content is the most common format for blogs and it has a lot of advantages. Search engines know exactly what they are about so you get credit for the content itself as well as the descriptions and tags, readers like them because they’re easy to scan so they can decide in advance whether it’s worth spending time on reading them closely. On the other hand, they are time-consuming to create, and you have to make sure that you have really said what you meant to, because readers have no other way of finding out what you were intending than the words you put on the page.
The problem with both video and audio content is that search engines (eg. Google) can’t ‘read’ what they are about so you don’t get as much credit for them, however, there are ways around this such as posting both a video and a blog based on it’s transcript.
Some very successful businesses use the following strategy:
- Record a video;
- Get the video transcribed;
- Separate the audio and video and publish the audio as a podcast;
- Modify the transcript to create a written blog post that reads well and is somewhat original.
- Post the video with the blog post below it.
- A similar strategy for those who hate appearing in videos:
- Record an audio program and publish it as a podcast;
- Get the audio transcribed and:
- Modify the transcript to create a written blog post that reads well and is somewhat original;
- Turn the transcript into slides and make a video from those;
- Post the video with the blog post below it.
This is a great way to do things if you are willing to outsource some of the steps, or have people in your company with the required expertise.
You don’t need to use all three formats, but now is the time to start publishing content consistently if you want your business to stand out and establish it’s pre-eminence. If you just want one format, then a written post will get you most standing with search engines so that you attract more traffic even if you don’t spending money on advertising and SEO, however video will get you more engagement from your readers.