Guest writer Jeremy Head shares his thoughts on POOR content, and why IT'S A WASTE OF money for your brand.
In years past, you could make your website appear higher in search results by bashing out large volumes of content, full of keywords.
But most people know this approach doesn't work any more. Indeed, Google's algorithm changes have seen pages that are created this way plummet in page rank.
Brochure to blog
If you remember the days before the internet, you'll know that getting something published was a long, costly business. That brochure you put so much effort into creating each year? It cost a fortune. But it was also your shop window. Seeing the final product was a moment of joy.
What happened to that thinking? With the internet, anyone can publish quickly and cheaply. Many would argue that's a good thing: but because it's so instant, the internet has also allowed us to be less bothered about the quality of what we publish. And if all you're doing is a travel blog for your friends and family, that's fine. They're invested in you, and are willing to be very forgiving of shoddy content.
But your potential customers will not be. When they click on your page, find that what you've written is sloppy, tired or trite, they will click away. This not only hurts your brand reputation, losing you a both existing and potential customers, but it also affects where you appear in Google results, making you less likely to be found by new customers.
Treat data with caution
Another thing the internet has allowed us to do is to measure the crap out of things. Again, this is not all bad.
But it's meant that it's tempting to ditch anything that you can't prove is giving an immediate return on investment. It's also tempting to think that if you can't measure it, it's not worth doing. This is nuts.
Promotion and advertising has always been part art, part science.
Take TV ads. Despite the high cost, people believe they work, so continue to run them. But can you tie direct sales back to them? In most cases, it's just not that easy. Ask a customer why they chose you, and few will say 'because I saw your ad'. Most won't realise the complex customer journey that led them to purchase.
Content is similar. Sure, use data to compare the performance of one piece versus another. But successful content does many things - it inspires, it makes people think positive things about you. And yes it converts too.
So what to do?
1. Make content part of a strategy
Just because you can publish something quickly, that doesn’t mean you should. Before you start creating, understand your audience. Work out what you want your content to do for them and why. Consider the right metrics that will help prove it's working. And decide how many posts you really need. Use your budget to create a smaller number of high quality pages that are really useful to your users. And allocate some budget to paid promotion. The web is a busy place (full of all that crap stuff, remember?). If you're serious you need to pay to play.
2. Play the long game
A single blog post is unlikely to drive sales. But it might well play a role. A suite of high-quality posts that leads your reader on a journey of inspiration and exploration, nudging them towards purchase will work far better. Often that takes time. You need to consider the whole customer journey, from awareness to interest to desire to purchase. And you need content that works at each stage with different metrics for each type.
3. Remember your brand
People aren't stupid. Online, they form an opinion about you in seconds. You want them to think your company isn't that great? Publish something that’s poorly researched and executed. How you write, the words you use, the images alongside - tone of voice, style, colour, font. All of these things matter. A lot.
4. Use the right writer
Ditch your SEO copywriter. Content needs love, attention to detail, and to sparkle. That's the way to make it bring you more customers. That's the way to make sure it ranks well in search results. That’s the way that first time readers come away inspired. Choose an experienced writer who is audience-focussed, and who knows how to write authentically and honestly. Someone, in other words, who can really connect with your audience.
Jeremy Head is a member of Inscribe Content's writing pool, and a highly experienced travel journalist and content-marketing professional.