The difference between having an excellent content creator and a poor one is huge — and the good ones are few and far between. If you are in an industry that is highly technical, or there is a strong need for accurate, in-depth information, the challenge of building digital content without using up your staff’s (expensive) time can be daunting.
In cases like this, the first step to growing a digital property is examining the content you do have, to see if you’re making the most of it. Often, a website’s content can easily be more than doubled – – all while better aligning your site with what’s best for both SEO and your visitors. These common-sense techniques make high-level content creation manageable, so that all that’s required from your technical staff is a quick review.
One common thread found across most technical and/or fact-sensitive industries… the major players will value their role as thought leaders. Because of this, they’re prolific in their publication of articles, videos, white papers, case studies, and other resources that help them lead and inform their industry. Those resources usually end up on a page that looks something like this:
While the page is packed with value, it has two important shortcomings:
With over 30 different resources here, there’s room to break this page out into smaller, more organized sections — possibly by core topic area or medium. As part of the process, a savvy content writer can take the opportunity create a 2-5 sentence summary of each content piece to accompany it, nicely building out your content as they go.
The resulting pages will better serve the user’s understanding of what they’re browsing, while also adding a wealth of indexable pages to help with search rankings. And the best part? You don’t need to hire someone with an intimate knowledge of immigration and employment laws (or any other highly technical industry) to make it happen.
Once a site has their resources broken out into landing pages, make sure that all downloadable content pieces have their own individual landing page. Content such as word documents, PowerPoint presentations, and spreadsheets can be difficult or impossible for search engines to understand. And while search engines can crawl PDF’s, their ability to do so is limited at best. Case in point: compare this PDF listing to its corresponding HTML landing page, and the difference is obvious:
Chances are that the HTML version will be much more informative for the user, building the case relevance to encourage them to click through. Additionally, that little [PDF] warning is going to discourage click-through users of mobile devices, who will not be able to easily view the content.
Along with additional traffic, there’s also an opportunity to build up an industry-specific contact list. Take, for example, the “Technical Articles/White Papers” landing page for Klöckner Pentaplast, creator of “rigid plastic film solutions:”
The company is offering 16 resources to the public, ranging from 3-10 pages in length. But users who navigate directly to the PDF do not get the benefit of the site’s navigation, a way to click through to the website, or any path to conversion. A more digital-savvy approach might look something like this:
The result? More traffic from better-served users, better results from the users who find your content, and a stronger contact list for your e-mail marketing. And because it was written by someone who is not coming from a highly technical place, it will better appeal to a general audience.
For many companies, videos are their most overlooked asset. They represent rich, engaging media that users love – and one that often required a significant amount of the company’s time and budget to produce. And with 100 hours of video being uploaded to YouTube every minute, and video viewing growing rapidly for mobile users, search engine users are beginning to prefer and expect videos in search results.
That being said, if your site’s video page looks like this, you may be giving yourself an unnecessary disadvantage:
To date, and for much of the foreseeable future, Google’s ability to read video is going to be extremely limited. Video files are extremely large when compared to plain text, and it’s just not within the ability of the computers that run search algorithms to process that much data across the web. As a result, if you want a search engine like Google to understand what your video content is about, you’ll need to put content around it that gives your video context. Follow these steps:
From a content strategist perspective, you may not know the first thing about hydroponics, but you can easily create 19 pages of valuable, indexable content from the videos listed above.
Whether your company has a storefront or just local branches around the country, locations can be valuable for branded search. It’s a well-documented best practice that’s key to building your local SEO strategy and is not seen as spammy by Google. What’s more, it has the potential to bring in a lot of traffic for your site. When working with clients in the past, I’ve seen cases where local office pages were added, and a year later, 7 of the of the site’s top 25 pages, by traffic, were local office pages.
In the case below, this oil refinery company already has content in place about their local refineries, and could easily flesh these out into pages if desired.
The key challenge to building out a local office page is adding unique relevance and value to each one. When brainstorming to populate your own, consider this checklist:
The more content you can add, the richer the page will be. Take a creative approach to making the pages as substantial as possible.
The Internet is a social, interactive place; if you treat your site like an isolated entity, that does not necessarily mean it will be protected from conversations about your brand “in the wild”. Therefore, it’s always important to be aware of all opportunities and issues created around your brand, and to proactively seek them out.
Terminix has a Press Releases page, but there is no page on the core website that celebrates external stories about the brand. However, a quick search in Google News shows that many conversations are taking place around the brand:
The good news for Terminix is that, by and large, these mentions are all positive. If I was the SEO for Terminix, I’d recommend that they embrace this wealth of great PR by creating an “In The News” section on their site, to accompany their Press Releases section. Any content writer could easily add a short summary of each news story as they linked to it. When the page gets too long, they can break the content up by year, or perhaps by 10 results per page, and you have an ongoing content development project in place.
For the most part, some of the projects above are ongoing ones — you should never stop building videos, white papers, and other rich content on your site, and a good company will always be surrounded by positive conversations online. Of course, as the initial backlog dwindles, bandwidth will be freed for your content team.
What happens next is up to you. My fellow Dragon, Jason White, often recommends having the content team conduct interviews with your experts, and process their feedback into great content afterwards. The interview process can also be applied externally, with your content team asking key questions to experts around the field, and then compiling their answers into a blog post. An informed content writer can also seek out industry experts to be featured in guest blog posts, or a group could hold a video conference that’s recorded and shared with your site visitors afterwards. Opportunities abound.
No matter what direction you choose to take as you evolve your strategy, you’ll know that you’re moving forward with a content team that’s reviewed your videos, white papers, and other rich content, and has the basics and your brand voice in their toolkit. They’ve worked with the local offices, researched and read news stories about the company, and are familiar with both the company culture and industry. They may not quite be industry experts, but you can rest assured that there is a far stronger level of competency than you began with, and also that they’re a better and more efficient team than almost any you could find at the initial time of hire.
What are some tactics you use to create content you are unfamiliar with? We would love to hear your thoughts in the comments below.