Editor’s note: This is a guest post from Ryan Stewart, a digital marketing consultant and current owner of WEBRIS, a Miami-based digital marketing agency. He is featured on sites such as Moz and SearchEngine Journal. He reached out to Verblio (formerly BlogMutt) and we worked together on this post (right after we nerded out on his Moz Whiteboard Friday). If you’d like to submit a guest post, please contact us.
“Content is king.”
If you’re a content writer, you’ve heard this phrase more than a thousand times. But, if the content is king, then the quality content must be the Messiah. Heck, any monkey can run across a keyboard and stuff an article with 3% keyword density. Creating a business blog that contains quality and actionable content is what sets the knights apart from the jesters.
Here are some hacks that you can use to graduate from jester to knight in the kingdom of content.
1. Put quality content at the top of your list of priorities.
Just like anything else, if you want to stand out, you need to be good. But witty, stylistic writers who share a bunch of fluff are not useful to any marketing campaign. If you want to succeed in the content kingdom, you need to provide readers with quality content with depth.
A lot of times, writers get hung up on keywords and link building. Without a doubt, they are an important part of SEO, but they are not at all the end-all-be-all. Too many writers worry about percentages and keyword density.
Just remember keyword stuffing satisfies bots, not readers. Your job is to give readers a reason to come back to your blog. To do that, your job is to be an industry expert that provides quality content.
2. Create actionable content that readers can use.
Remember your middle school English class teacher’s mantra? “Show me, don’t tell me.”
The same rings true as a grown-up writer. When readers are looking at business blogs, they are seeking to take away something. The more actionable your content is, the more credible you become to your readers.
Again, style is important, but your style needs to always benefit your readers. So, when they can actually walk away from your blog or your article and put theory into practice, you’ve given readers a reason to return to your blog (and revere it).
3. Back claims with research.
Any time you make a claim, you need to back it with research. Your goal may be to paint yourself as an industry expert, but you need credible sources to back any claims you make.
You may not always be able to find some statistical correlation or quantitative research to validate what you’re trying to prove. If that’s the case, examples are another excellent way to back up claims.
Business writers and inbound marketing experts do this all the time. The reason is pretty simple. It’s easier for readers to decipher what you’re trying to say when you outline a process with examples.
Here’s an example of how to determine what type of research to use and when to use it. If you’re trying to convince readers to explore an apps marketplace, use numbers to showcase how this approach helped other businesses. If you’re trying to show people how to get their app added into said marketplace, give examples or step-by-step instructions with screenshots.
4. Take advantage of guest posting opportunities.
Content writers who guest post grow their following. Not only does guest posting drive traffic to your website, but it also gets your name and your face out there to others. The key to guest posting is shares on social media.
If your article is shared on social media, and a reader likes it, the odds are that person will start to follow your blog.
Guest posting is the beginning of a cycle: guest post, get likes and shares on your social media channel, grow your following, and increase traffic to your page. This, of course, will trigger more shares on social media, and the cycle will repeat. So, the lesson here is while guest posting may not make you money, it will drive traffic to your blog, and that will increase your business’s web traffic—and that’s what will grow your bottom line.
5. Connect your blog to Feedly.
Feedly is the most popular RSS reader available today. Regardless of the niche that you write for, connecting your blog to Feedly puts your information in front of people who are looking for what you have to say. It takes hunting for blogs out of the readers’ equation.
The great thing about Feedly is that after users subscribe to a blog in a niche, it recommends other blogs to them. So, the benefit to content writers who use this service is that Feedly puts your information out there for people who are looking for what you have to say.
Another impressive feature that Feedly offers you is social media integration. What that means to you is that readers can share your posts on their social media channels for others to read directly from Feedly. Just like with guest posting, this drives traffic to your page, which helps boost your page rank.
6. Subscribe to proofing applications.
Everyone likes to think that they are the best at their jobs. But even the best make mistakes.
For this reason, you’re wise to invest in a proofing application. Even the best writers hire editors. If you can’t afford an editor, online applications like Grammarly or Hemingway are a fantastic alternative. These two tools are excellent for any content writer’s repertoire.
Hemingway is ideal for readability. It offers suggestions about sentence structure and how things sound to readers.
Grammarly, on the other hand, is perfect for spelling, punctuation, and grammar errors.
7. Subscribe to plagiarism detectors.
Even without intending to, it is possible to plagiarize. After you spend lots of time writing, it’s hard to avoid a few key phrases seeping into the subconscious and then coming out on paper. You don’t want to send off any work without running it through a plagiarism detector like Copyscape.
Copyscape is what most companies will run your blogs through, so it’s smart to beat them to the punch. Many content writers send a Copyscape report with their final posts just to show businesses that their work is not only quality but also unique.
8. Balance your time and know when to walk away.
A good content writer knows when to walk away. If you’re sitting there staring at a blank screen, then you’re wasting your time and the time of the business you’re writing for. Sometimes the best way to get over that hump is to walk away. You can’t in good conscience bill out hours for time staring into space.
The best way to make sure you’re on a roll is to set a timer. If you haven’t gotten moving and into a groove after an allotted amount of time, it’s time to shut off the time clock and move to something else.
Take a walk, get groceries, listen to music. Do something to get the blood flowing to the brain so that the ideas will follow.
At the end of the day, your content has to stand out from the landscape of your competitors. The easiest and most effective way is to make quality content your top priority. From there, discipline yourself and use the tools available to make sure that what you submit will help your clients drive traffic to their sites.