When you’re creating content for your website, you want people to read and engage with your content. Ultimately, we as content creators want readers to convert in some way and perhaps become a returning visitor or even a customer. But with today's crowded and noisy marketplace, this job becomes tougher each year.

We caught up with some content producers and asked them what they value most when building content for their websites.

Give Organic Search Love

There's no denying that Google is the 500 lb. Gorilla in the search engine space. They have been driving the conversation for years, although other search engines like Bing are making progress. Getting into top search positions can mean big traffic for the right search queries. In fact, according to BrightEdge, the average website gets 51 percent of all trackable traffic comes from organic search. Which means you need to be thinking about SEO and creating content that is relevant, timely and engaging. And it needs to connect with your audience on a deep, emotional level to be effective marketing. This is a tall task and requires a lot of work.

According to Mallory Cates, digital marketing associate at Blue Compass Interactive, “We write content focused on search engine optimization. We optimize our content to follow the latest Google algorithm updates since this is the largest search engine people rely on. There are countless benefits of SEO, and when you write useful and keyword-rich content that answers the public’s questions, you’ll see a lot more traffic to your website,” Cates said.

SEO efforts will keep bringing traffic back to your site months after the original content was released. It’s also more cost-efficient to get organic traffic, unlike social media where you need to pay to appear to your target audience, she said.

Before her team writes a blog or website content, it performs keyword research, usually on Moz or SEMrush to discover the most popular topics and inquiries about the subject. “Sometimes we’re surprised by the most searched items and we have to rethink how we want to structure our content to rank for the most popular keywords,” Cates sad. They choose a few keywords they want to rank and then determine how to fit those words into a quality piece of content. 

“The most important thing to remember when optimizing your content for search is that it still needs to make sense and flow to readers,” Cates said. “Cramming in as many keywords as possible seems like an easy way to optimize, but Google bots are very smart and will demote your rank if you try to pad your content with keywords and it doesn’t make any sense.”

Related Article: 4 Content Marketers Experimenting Their Way to Engagement

Understand Your Users and Help Solve Their Problems

Website content is about personalized, customer-centric storytelling, said Mimi Rosenheim, director of web marketing at Demandbase. Determine what problem you’re trying to solve and who has this problem. From there you can discuss the solutions that come into play. This storytelling becomes the foundation upon which to build your SEO, brand exposure, syndication and other tactics. Whether it’s visual or verbal, takes the form of educational or inspirational content, is gated or not-gated content, or is based on use cases and customer stories, this kind of storytelling spans across the entire marketing lifecycle,” Rosenheim said. 

Content that is customer-centric helps people crystalize an issue, provides tactical next steps and ultimately tells more meaningful stories for the customer, Rosenheim added.

Learning Opportunities

Create Content With Unique Goals in Mind

Jen Pepper, Unbounce's head of content, said content creation in her company can be geared toward helping visitors start a trial, visit its pricing page or drive them to a demo. In other cases, blog posts or larger-scale resources are designed primarily to drive organic traffic. “Overall, because website content is so broad in nature, the goal differs based on what part of the buyer journey the given content addresses,” Pepper said. “Right now we're really focused on producing content that will drive organic traffic to our blog, for example.”

For marketers, conversions should be at the top of your objectives with content, according to Cathy McPhillips, VP of marketing for the Content Marketing Institute (CMI). Conversions can be related to whatever’s important to you: to read a related article, to subscribe to a newsletter or magazine or, in McPhillips and CMI’s case, to convert to an event attendee at Content Marketing World or Intelligent Content Conference.  “We know that every piece of content won’t end up with someone buying an event pass, but if we can get them to take one more action, that is the value in our eyes,” McPhillips said.

Related Article: 10 Steps to Building a Successful Content Strategy

Consider User Generated Content

Gerry Widmer is CEO at Zesty.io and his teams are encouraged to primarily value qualified leads and conversions when building content. “One of our favorite forms of content is user-generated content, because it consistently performs so well. … Showcasing how real customers use your product and providing a platform for clients to tell your story can be directly attributed to the bottom line,” Widmer said.

Create Engaging Content

Brands value engagement across entire customer journeys (pre- and post-sale) regardless of where they are in the world, said Peggy Chen, chief marketing officer of SDL. “Global brands are ultimately trying to engage target audiences and customers to start and maintain an ongoing dialogue. The more engaged a brand is with their audience, the greater the likelihood they can acquire customers, convert them at each touchpoint and turn them into advocates,” Chen said. Brands however, need work, according her, with producing enough of the right content at speed and scale to provide a consistent engagement experience. In other words, content that is in all requisite languages, tailored for the right channels and nuanced for each target audience segment.

Zach French, digital project manager at Gabriel Marketing Group, said it’s clear that in order to boost SEO rankings, traffic and quality leads, you need to have engaging content on your website. Don’t get caught up in the visual aspects of what makes a website great, cautions French, user design and user interfaces may be, “sexy, trendy and right in front of you,” but content is the foundation of any website. It has the power to make or break a beautiful webpage. We focus on creating a diverse array of great, original content because it’s the pillar that underpins all other aspects of a website. Above all else, user engagement is key. If your goal is to create brand awareness, engaging content is most likely to be shared,” French said.

If you focus solely on SEO, French said, Google might like to read your content but a human won’t. "If you want to hook users, diverse content is essential. Blogging is great, but website visitors have evolved to crave videos, interactive infographics, quizzes and curated lists. Keep them coming back to see what’s next.” Remember to create content for your users, not an algorithm.

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