People today are on information overload. If you have a question, you can ask Alexa or Siri and receive an instant response. If you search for almost any term on Google, you wind up with hundreds of thousands of potential results. According to one study, around 20% of people feel overloaded with information. While 77% like having so much info, there are times when it becomes overwhelming and makes it nearly impossible to process.
One of the issues with web content is that so much of it is repetitive. There is only so much you can say about a topic, and you might visit three websites and read similar articles on all of them. Fortunately, there are a few things you can do to make sure your content stands out from the other work out there. Creating fresh material is a lot easier than you might think.
Here are six things to keep in mind before publishing something online.
1. Find a Fresh Angle
Spend time browsing what’s currently available. If you want to write an article about how to discipline your children, that’s fine, but know there are millions of other pieces on the same topic. Look at the top few and see what they have to say. Can you add anything to the conversation or look at things from a different perspective? Perhaps the other articles are about disciplining toddlers, so you write a piece about how to dole out consequences to an out-of-control teenager.
Tons of articles exist on how to get your dog to stop barking. However, Pet Central covers the topic in a way that’s a bit different than most. The majority of sites offer steps to get your dog to stop barking. By contrast, this article looks at the reasons why dogs bark and then admits that, for a variety of reasons, the technique for getting your dog to stop might be different than another pet. They then offer a number of training scenarios you can try.
2. Tap into Offline Marketing
If your online content isn’t getting much traction, reach out to your regular customers and let them know about the information you have for them. For example, if you run a small restaurant, you might tell the people who come in and order your signature dessert every week that you have a video online about the history of it and how the original recipe was brought over from Italy by your great-grandmother.
Add a hashtag to banners and encourage people to post images online of using your product.
3. Utilize Before and Afters
The work you do is unique. One way of highlighting that fact is providing before and afters to showcase why you’re so good at your trade. The type of images you use will vary based on your business, but anything in home improvement, beauty or health lends itself well to photos. Get creative by thinking through how to set up before and after images.
For example, if you’re a photographer, you might take a photo of a family in disarray — with their permission, of course — and then a beautiful family portrait. If you sell clothing, you could take a snapshot of someone before a fashion makeover and after.
Quality Overhead Door highlights how beautiful homes look with a new garage door installation. Their gallery of before and afters are unique, and something users care about. They want to know if the brand can do the same thing to improve the appearance of their properties.
4. Get Actionable
Does your web content make users want to jump up and take action? If not, then you’re likely missing a strong call-to-action (CTA) at the end of your piece. You must construct your video, article or infographic so that the people reading it see a need for your product or service. Once they know how you can solve a problem for them, the next step is to take action. Encourage them to do so with CTAs.
Your CTAs must make sense for your audience. Play around with language, different offers and positioning and button colors. Test each element thoroughly with split testing until you find the perfect combination that speaks to your core demographic.
5. Focus on Headlines
What is it about some headlines that make you want to click on them? The best headlines get right to the point and let you know they have an answer to your question. Your headline should be long enough to get your idea across and no longer. It needs to grab the reader’s attention in some way. It should not be deceptive, such as with clickbait headlines.
Headlines can ask a question, answer a query, reveal something or simply hone in on a topic or keyword phrase. You have to fully understand your target audience if you wish to write something of interest. One of the best ways to figure out headline writing is by looking at other successful content. Which speak to you, and why?
Instant Pot answers the questions you likely have if you’re in the market to buy one of their modern pressure cookers. They state the problem you probably have upfront and create a headline that reads, “Help! Which Instant Pot Is Right for Me?” Someone thinking about buying one of these cookers is probably trying to decide on the size and features. When they see the headline, they are likely to click and read more.
6. Write Longer Pieces
An old rule of thumb was to write a bunch of content that was 300 words or more. However, with the changes in Google’s algorithms and people’s desire for more in-depth content, long-form has become more popular. Don’t just give the nod to the topic you’re writing on, but think through all the different issues the user potentially has.
If you’re unsure, do a search on Google for the theme and look at the “People Also Ask” section for ideas on similar questions. Make sure you fully cover a topic and share all elements of your expertise — within reason.
Put Yourself in Their Shoes
Try to look at your content through the eyes of the user. Are you offering everything they need? Can you find holes in the information that need filling? The more tuned in you are to your target audience, the more likely you’ll offer content they care about. Take the time to survey your current clients and think about the common problems they face. With a little effort, your content will attract more web traffic.
Lexie is a graphic designer and UX strategist. She loves taking her Goldendoodle on long runs and checking out local flea markets. Visit her blog, Design Roast, and follow her on Twitter @lexieludesigner.