Creating Purpose-Driven Content That Does Not Suck.
Good content doesn’t exist in a vacuum. The benefits are wide-reaching, and a strategized effort is worthwhile. Yet, when it comes to actually creating new web content, few folks feel they have time and budget to burn. Sound familiar? That’s why I’m breaking down the basics in this series on how to create new content that doesn’t suck. Part 1 focuses on purpose so you can begin to see the payoff for creating relevant, high-quality content.
The strategy that begins to unfold below targets resource-strapped grassroots organizations and nonprofits in the outdoor and education worlds. However, these nuggets of SEO gold apply to anyone looking to boost their online presence.
Step 1: Understand what new content can do for you
You might have heard the phrase, “Content is king.” Or maybe, “Context is king.” At the very least you’ve heard Elvis is king. And if he were still swiveling today, it’s likely that he, too, would invest in ways to stay top of mind and make his audience swoon. The key is purpose. Without it, you run the risk of actually turning off your audience and hurting your SEO.
So in order to really reap the benefits of content that doesn’t suck, you should understand what regularly publishing new content can do for your organization. The pluses include:
- Establishing authority — In order to improve how well your site ranks in search, you must continuously prove to the search engines that you are the authority on a particular topic. How? Creating useful, unique, highly shareable, SEO-friendly content.
- Enticing visits — Not only does new content entice users to check back often and share what they find useful/interesting; new content also beckons the search engines to revisit (and recrawl!) your site.
- Engaging your target audience — As the subject matter expert/authority, you have the ability to grab your audience’s attention. You have insights they want, tips they can use, and answers they need (but don’t have the time, desire, or knowledge to easily find).
- Staying relevant — You want every new blog post, video, infographic, and social broadcast to be useful, right? Otherwise, you’re wasting your time, your users’ time, and polluting the web with garbage. Therefore, keep up on the latest in your industry and offer your unique insights/commentary. New content doesn’t just have to be about your organization. Become a voice in the industry as a brand that has its finger on the pulse of XYZ, and your name will become synonymous with great outdoor recreation, conservation, youth engagement, whatever your org is going for.
Together, these make a powerful recipe for increasing site traffic. However, you probably want more than a boost in the number of visits/visitors. You want conversions. And that means you must identify what you want your new content to do for you.
Step 2: Determine why you want to create new content
Your next step is to get crystal clear on why you’re creating each new piece of content. Otherwise, you risk wasting your resources (time, money, brain-juice). Hint: The answer is not one of the aforementioned benefits. You have to get more specific than that. You have to think conversions.
In the nonprofit world, a conversion might look something like:
- Getting funded.
- Increasing donations.
- Increasing awareness (site traffic and social media).
- Building your email list.
- Gaining more manpower (volunteers, staff, advisers).
For sake of example, let’s choose the first whammy on the list: Funding. Is it possible that web content can help you get financial backing? Absolutely. How? Consider your website your greatest storyteller. Deliver a powerful narrative that sets you apart from any other organization and moves your audience to get involved, and you’ll stand a better chance when applying for grants or wowing potential sponsors.
Now, let’s take a more direct (and easily measurable) conversion target such as email capture. If the purpose of your next blog post is to squeeze an email address out of your users, you can laser-focus your call-to-action (and avoid the common mistake of giving users too many options). One purpose. One CTA. One metric.
No content left behind
Every online outburst should have a purpose. That means every new evergreen page, blog post, infographic, video, social media squeak, and email squawk. This purpose should align with and support your organization’s goals.
Step 3: Write until you get it right
Once you’ve got your purpose down, matched by a single, suitable CTA, you’re ready to start creating your meaningful, useful, relevant piece of content. My personal process for writing a new page goes something like:
- Write the purpose and prescribed CTA at the top of a new Gdoc.
- Write a preliminary meta description (150 character or less) and title (less than 70 characters) to be refined once the page is final.
- Draft a quick, loose outline.
- Think about which images might pair well with the content.
- Let the writing begin.
Take the time to narrow down your own set of getting-started steps. By building some structure around the creative process, you’ll create a boundary that keeps your efforts on target. It’s within this boundary that you can create your most potent content.
Once you publish your piece of content, keep an eye on how well it’s doing. How? Use the CTA as a conversion measuring stick. If you aimed to gather 50 new email addresses with this post, how close were you to hitting your mark? Not close enough? Refine your tactics for the next post, and the post after that, until you determine what works on your target audience.
Being able to measure the success of a specific piece of content helps you hone your skills as a publisher. The more skilled you are at creating content that converts, the easier it becomes to leverage the web as a tool for helping you meet your goals. Want more on this? Connect with me on Twitter or check out the recast of my latest webinar on storytelling.