There has been a tectonic shift in recent years away from using links as a way to increase your site traffic and achieve higher search rankings towards high quality and original content.
In many ways, this focus on original, relevant and sharable content is a development to be celebrated.
Firstly, it should finally banish some of the worst SEO practices into the fiery pits of hell that they so readily belong in, by placing the user experience at the heart of how websites are ranked in search results.
Secondly, the promotion of creativity above all else is a beautiful declaration about what makes the internet so important in the modern age. Sure, it facilitates a global network of business and customers, but at a more fundamental level it has always been about the spread of information. Your sites content is the information that you wish to spread about who you are, what you do, why you do it and what makes you tick.
Acknowledging the importance of creative content is one thing, creating it regularly for a prolonged period of time is something else entirely!
So, how do you go about constructing the kind of content that will make your site stand out from the crowd?
Why is Creative Content so Important?
The main reason as to why creative content has been elevated to such an extent in a relatively short space of time comes down to that hulking, seemingly omnipresent entity we call ‘Google’.
The majority of websites get a large portion of their traffic from Google, so when they company announced its Panda and Penguin updates, everyone stopped what they were doing and pensively cocked an ear. ‘Penguin’ was focused on eliminating web-spam from our online lives while ‘Panda’ aimed to promote sites with original, useful and relevant content and information in its search results. This is still an on-going project for Google, but it is clear that creative content is at the heart of it.
The broader reason as to why creative content is so important is simple: it is the way the internet should be. Great content is the best way to communicate to people your value as a company or brand. Nothing can engage a user, get them committed and ready to part with their cash quite like it can. The internet is the greatest facilitator of information the world has ever seen, and your content is your contribution to that process, so it needs to be great.
Unfortunately, like most things that are important, getting your content right is not as simple as opening a word document and tapping furiously at the keyboard for 15 minutes. There are a few challenges you need to face.
Make Boring Content Exciting
One of the biggest challenges that many business sites face when coming up with content is that, with all due respect, what they do isn’t actually really that exciting. So how do you go about hooking in users with interesting content if you work in what would be considered a “boring” industry?
While there is no magic solution to turn, teeth grindingly boring, corporate content into interesting stuff that is going to stop users in their tracks, there are a few things you need to consider:
- What problem do you offer a solution to? Is that problem very specific, broad or related to other problems (e.g. As in the way that ‘HR consultancy’ and ‘indoor plants’ are linked under the banner of ‘creating a work environment that encourages productivity and employee retention)?
- As the world gets more and more interconnected and complicated, can you provide a little illumination (here ‘HR consultancy’ is linked to ‘cloud computing’ via a piece of content on ‘5 cloud apps that will help you better organise your working day’)?
- Do you have the industry information and the ability to analyse it that people are searching for on the web?
- Can you use personal experience or anecdotes to highlight something important (e.g. A post about how the owners started up the HR consultancy can be used as an example of how to tackle a difficult job market).
- Can you solve an interesting mystery (e.g. We can link ‘HR consultancy’ to ‘popular psychology’ by creating some content around the idea of ‘why time seems to slow down towards the end of the day and how to make sure your productivity doesn’t slow down with it’)?
Another important piece of the puzzle here is the packaging of your content. A block of text with no picture isn’t going to grab the attention of anyone. You are also going to need to become a master of headlines.
It is always worth remembering that genuine enthusiasm is never boring.
What Kind of Content Suits Your Site?
It is not just blog posts and news items that count as creative content, there are a variety of ways you can communicate information in a fun and informative way.
- Product reviews,
- Content aggregation,
- Blog posts,
- …the list is very long indeed!
The question for you thus becomes about which medium is best suited to your message and the kind of person you are trying to appeal to. If you are an interior designer then a video or slideshow showing how you transformed a client’s front room is likely to go further than a long blog post detailing all the individual changes that you made without any pictures.
It is important here to think about what result you want from your content. If you want to create informative content that is relatively “context independent” (it will be just as useful a year or two down the line) then you need to think in terms of “evergreen content.”
Coming Up With a Long Term Content Strategy
This is not just a one-off event where you create some content, Google gives you a pat on the back and everyone goes home happy. No, you are going to have to continue to do this regularly for some time. If you have created some good evergreen content you can begin to ease off a little over time but you are still going to need to come up with a long term content strategy.
The good news is that your original ideas should keep on giving, as there are always going to be developments in any field. All of the article ideas suggested above for the HR consultancy effectively open the door to continue to write about new developments in those areas as they arise. Reviewing products, events and conferences will give a healthy dose of regular posts to write as well.
Once you have opened the floodgates and got the ball rolling (to mix metaphors horribly), you can build off your previous creative content until your site is bursting with stuff that people want more of.
Creative Content and Simple Web Design
One final thing to think about is how the future of internet use is increasingly moving away from the desktop PC and laptop, and towards a multi-device future. The era of smartphones, tablets, games consoles and smart TVs means that people are going to be looking at your site on a number of different screens, all with their own sizes and resolutions. This means that your site design has to be responsive, but also it has to put your creative content at its heart and this content has to translate well across devices.
If you keep all of this in mind, you will soon be creating creative content that not only sets you apart from all your competitors, but gets customers enthused about being part of your brand and potential customers eager to learn more about what you do.
What are the main problems you have encountered coming with creative content and how did you overcome them? Please let us know in the comment section below!
Image by ‘JD Hancock’ [Source]